Gilbert Public Schools: Line of Sight and Other Ridiculous Management Strategies

The Superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools, Christina Kishimoto, described herself as “ridiculous” as she rode into the district. Now we’re finding out that Kishimoto’s management style is equally ridiculous. The past few months have been one surprise after another in terms of what is top priority for a school district facing dwindling funds and a diminished budget. Once again, some pigs are more equal in GPS.

Who knew that the entire annual budget needed a mid-year alteration to buy thousands of Chromebooks? Kishimoto tried to justify the sudden purchase by saying students needed the Chromebooks for taking standardized tests. The tone-deafness of Kishimoto’s administration is astounding, especially with the Great Opt-Out Movement against Common Core Standardized Testing that was gaining speed as Kishimoto’s new priorities were unveiled to a bewildered public. The bought-and-paid-for board members that Kishimoto assiduously shepherded at public events bought this farcical process as part of their new governance training (carried on at fancy hotels with catered meals for board members and their guests, especially the guest named Kishimoto). You would think things couldn’t get worse, but you would be wrong.

Loyal employees watched in disbelief as those bought-and-paid-for board members approved a teeny-tiny across-the-board pay raise for all employees.  Those loyal employees knew that the top dogs (also known as GPS Carpetbaggers and Scalawags) would profit most from those raises. Loyal employees also knew that new hires, who are paid significantly more than long-serving employees, got another windfall while the Loyal Ones were told to be satisfied with crumbs from the table full of catered meals that taxpayers now give to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and her top dogs and anyone else invited to provide window dressing for the latest and greatest new priority for Gilbert Public Schools.

The ridiculous stage was set for stealth raises for a few support staffers at the Great White Temple of Doom, which were supposed to be approved by the board without question (as always is expected of board members under Christina Kishimoto’s thumb). Fortunately, eagle eyes discovered some interesting anomalies in the Human Resources reports about record-breaking resignations and retirements of GPS support staff. Unfortunately for Christina 7-0 Kishimoto, her clandestine raises  are merely a perversion of Line of Sight Management. As practiced in Gilbert Public Schools, employees in the lines of sight of the Superintendent and her top dogs get raises because, gosh darn it, they just work so hard. That retching noise you hear comes from those outside of Kishimoto’s line of sight. And from teachers and aides whose classrooms have more, more and more students each year with no raise for the additional work demanded of these front-line employees. Out of sight, out of mind.

Here’s how the newest GPS scam works, as we discovered in the agenda for the May 26, 2015 board meeting: some support staffers were given raises based on … well, anything that the top dogs wanted. If this brings back memories of the Good Old Boys under former Superintendent Dave Allison, you’re on the right track. When questioned about why some support staffers were receiving raises for whatever reason, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto showed everyone why her last district voted 7-0 to send her packing. Kishimoto first confronted the offending board member for having the audacity to ask such a question in the first place. Then Kishimoto demanded to know names, right then. Sure enough, Julie Smith, who was attending the meeting via phone, faltered under the onslaught of Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s in-your-face brushback, as Kishimoto intended.

The reason for the pay raises, which apparently caught the board by surprise, as Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto explained, was because these employees were doing more work. So they needed to be paid more. “How dare you question me?” was unspoken, but given the ferocity of the brushback, it was not necessary to say those words out loud.

Viewers watching the Livestream video understood what was going on, even when there was no live-action video, just more PowerPoint slides. Here’s why: see the dude watching his laptop at right? No one was manning the video camera beside him. Maybe Tech Services folks were instructed to get weird instead of wired. Even Kishimoto’s so-called *supporters* in the audience complained. There’s trouble in River City when the superintendent loses the loud-mouth gang! Okay, enough digression.

The real situation in Gilbert Public Schools is that employees on the front lines of education, in the classroom, are doing more, more and more every day with no additional remuneration. They’re not in the Superintendent’s line of sight, so no pay increases for them! (Actually, Christina Kishimoto is famous for not acknowledging the existence of anyone on a school campus below the rank of principal, but that’s a story for another day.)

It’s amazing that the new Powers That Be in Gilbert Public Schools don’t seem to understand the concept called “proactive.” If current management were proactive, the need for giving pay raises to support staffers at the district offices would have been discussed in advance, maybe with one of those dog-and-pony PowerPoint presentations and a big hoopla to explain the need for this select group of employees to be paid more money, right now. That’s not what happened. Superintendent Christina 7-0 Kishimoto thought she could just do what she wanted, secure in the knowledge that the current board clerk can’t manage to find her way out of a paper bag. That’s probably why Kishimoto’s response to being challenged by the most diminutive [in height, not in courage or tenacity] board member was so aggressive. The nice people of Gilbert, Arizona generally don’t expect East Coast urban aggressiveness in response to reasonable questions asked by persons who have a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers.

Here are some of the support staff raise recipients, graced by Christina Kishimoto’s *line of sight* mismanagement:

Albert Duchover, Energy Plant Supervisor C-7 $45,385.00 to Energy Plant Supervisor D-7 $53,360.00
Darlene Jones, Procurement Technician 21-4 $14.46 to Procurement Specialist 23-4 $15.36
Tina LePage, Executive Coordinator to School Board 26-6 $17.81 to Website Multimedia Communication Supervisor C-2 $19.36
Phyllis Lopat, Accounting Specialist full time 22-5 $15.36 to Accounting Specialist full time 22-7 $16.55
Paulina Norkiewicz, Administrative Secretary 17-5 $13.32 to Executive Assistant 26-9 $18.89
Laura Sup, Benefits Supervisor A-1 $16.49 to Benefits Supervisor A-11 $20.82
Tracy Taylor, Administrative Assistant 22-1 $13.88 to Account Specialist $14.96

Why is it important to call out GPS mismanagement when we see it? Because teachers receive $14.00 per hour when they are required to take on excess assignments, according to the GPS Employee Handbook (see page 39). The obsequious Gilbert Education Association President agrees to all of these inequities, you know.

The other reason to call out GPS mismanagement: support staffers who received lovely raises “because they work so hard” generally are eligible for overtime pay and comp time at one and a half times their hourly pay rates. Teachers don’t receive overtime or comp time. This is just one more blatant example of the outrageous pay inequities in Gilbert Public Schools. This inequality exists because no one challenges the superintendent who presides over this omnishambles of a school district.

Remember this when it’s time to vote on giving these GPS clowns more tax money in the form of a 10% override and a $98 Million bond.


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