Gilbert Public Schools: The Worst Back-to-School Experience EVER!

Gilbert Public Schools gave Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto a pass last year, since it was her first year with the district. She made quite a number of mistakes, but the good people of the Town of Gilbert are compassionate and patient. This year, everyone expected Christina 3-2 Kishimoto to pull up her big girl pants and act like a superintendent. She doesn’t seem to understand that she is NOT one of the heroes in GPS.

We’ll enumerate some of the fiascos that GPS students, parents and employees endured as the school year got off to a remarkably rocky start.  Westie has lots of new birdies this year, and you all know how we love-love-love our birdies. One thing we started doing, since the new school year has been so messed up AGAIN, is we tell new birdies how to get in touch with their board members so that someone might possibly intervene with the incompetent superintendency.

Come on, board members, you know you’re getting more calls and emails than usual. Too bad for you that so many of your complainants are people who used to be on your side. You let them down. As Maya Angelou said, “No one will ever remember everything you said. And no one will remember everything you did. But no one will ever forget how you made them feel.” Christina and the Rubber Stamps* are making people feel really, really bad for having believed what they said, not what they did. But enough of this distraction.

PARENTS: do not let your kids drink the bottled water in the GPS portable classrooms. We’re hearing reports from the four corners of the district that those big bottles of water were stored in hot ovens  portable classrooms all summer … the portable classrooms that had air conditioning turned off not only got more dirty than usual, the water that was sitting around when temperatures soared to 115 degrees (sometimes less, but pretty much every day was in three digit temps) probably tastes dank, and perhaps is not safe from the chemicals in the plastic containers.

Worse, we’ve been told that some of those water bottles were half-empty (or half full, as you wish) while they sat around in the hot ovens  portable classrooms. Those bottles have not been sanitized from the germs and other ickie things that children’s hands tend to cultivate under the best of circumstances. Seriously, the first days of school have been (as usual) heat advisory days, where kids are not supposed to go out for recess (if that still exists) or PE. And in those conditions, you would think GPS would care very much that every child had access to copious amounts of drinking water. But you might be wrong, from what Westie’s birdies are chirping.

We’re hearing lots of circular firing squad type excuses for why GPS doesn’t have fresh water bottles for students who are trying to learn in locations that don’t have water fountains and the like, but they’re just feeble excuses. Here’s something we heard that is so totally ridiculous, you’ve gotta shake your head in disbelief:  apparently, GPS hasn’t paid their water vendor for some of last year’s deliveries. Perhaps the water vendor hasn’t ponied up in pay-to-play. [More on that subject in a future post.]

This is reminiscent of the times that GCA didn’t have fresh water for the kids to drink and had only very hot (no cold or warm) water for hand-washing. You know that was a nasty situation.  Parents were about six minutes from calling in the Maricopa Health Office back then; the next day, drinking water arrived in GCA. Today, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health has big, big warnings on the home page of their website: “Excessive Heat Warning!” and “Stay cool, stay hydrated, stay informed!” You would think that GPS would be concerned about their 37,000 students having water to drink. Again, you might be wrong.

It’s a health violation to NOT have water available in GPS buildings, including portables. And it’s not the responsibility of a teacher or a principal to provide water, it’s the DISTRICT’S responsibility. Don’t accept excuses when you ask questions about whether students have access to drinkable water.

Parents: after you talk to your little darlings about how thirsty they are all day (confirming Westie’s reports), here’s the way you make a report to the County Health Office:
Online complaint form
Complaint Line Phone Number:  (602) 506-6616 

Parents, we know you’re sending in lots of individual bottles of water, but the kids are really, really thirsty in this *excessive heat* at the beginning of the school year. You know that even the most concerned classroom teachers cannot afford to buy water bottles for all their students. How many parents had water bottles on those supply lists for the first day of school? Even when parents send in what should be plenty of water, those water bottles might not make it through the entire day. GPS kids have some really, really long days!  (Tip: send liquid water, not frozen.  The frozen bottles never thaw during the school day–but they do leak, and they are heavy enough to use as a weapon.)

Some days, kids need water for even longer than just the school day. Birdies have been chirping about how awful the bus situation has been.  We heard kids were kicked off buses and told to wait for another, less full bus to come for them. The kids were left out in the heat with no shade, no water, no supervision. “Just wait,” your kids were told. The average unexpected wait was an hour. In those *excessive heat* conditions. That’s the compassion the GPS superintendency has for your kids.

Even though the GPS Governing Board spent $735,000 for new school buses last year, it looks like there were not enough buses for student transportation when the 2015-2016 school year kicked off. Then there was the sweet deal for Gilbert Education Foundation activist, San Tan Ford, in the form of a contract for $240,000 for eight (8) ten-passenger Ford Transit vans. (Or was it a sweetheart deal? The timing alone gives a reasonable person pause.) Then there’s the fact that only Ford dealers responded to the GPS bid … must have been some really, really good reason no other manufacturer’s vans fit the bill, right?

Take a look at the *fact sheet* for the vendor selection process for those Ford vans. San Tan Ford Deal.   Ain’t it Amazing, Gracie, that San Tan Ford just happened to bid something that was about $100 per van under what the other bidders offered? Gracie, wouldn’t you think that the Mohave Cooperative already had a contract that GPS could have piggy-backed onto, as usual when there’s a lot of taxpayer money at stake in GPS? And why in the world would there be only five bidders to sell a school district some vans in a place as big as the Phoenix Valley and its environs in a business that specializes in *regional incentives*? Ewwww….stinky pile.

You want to know what was important for the transportation department on the first day of school? Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s bus load of her pals and Rubber Stamps visiting three schools … on the first day of school. There were some mighty fine dog-and-pony shows for that. How do we know? There are lots of photos of GPS kids all over the Internet, taken by heaven knows who and probably without parental permission. Nevertheless, some kids were more than an hour late getting home from the first day of school. How many kids were late getting to school is a data point that GPS probably has locked up in a vault … good luck finding out!

With all those new folks in the superintendency (and a couple who were never supposed to be around GPS this year), not a single one of them managed to attend the grand Back to School Kick Off at Transportation. Those employees busted their butts to get transportation all shiny and ready for the new school year. They’re short-handed, but they made their goal. No one in the administration bothered to attend the Kick Off. No one in the administration seems to give a $&#@ about those valiant employees who give GPS their all every day … and these are some of the folks who really are in it for the kids.

Yeah, Tom Wohlleber, you already stepped in it with your employees. Bet no one told you. The emperor has no clothes, you know. But don’t feel too bad. There’s a lot that no one is telling Her Highness, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto. Not that she would deign to listen.

Sigh. You could have had Westie for Superintendent. The buses would have run on time.  

*Big Fat Asterisk: You know how Westie thinks Dave Barry would make a great president. He also thinks up terrific names for rock bands. He is in the Rock Bottom Remainders with some super awesome writers who also make some fine music. We salute Dave Barry with our suggestion for this rock band: Christina and the Rubber Stamps. Sorry, Julie and Daryl, this is another thingy to which you were not invited.

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