Gilbert Public Schools – Misguided and Mismanaged

GPS Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto was bound and determined to get some national attention for her current school district. Unfortunately, the national attention has been really bad, downright negative and it looks like it will get uglier as this new school year gets underway.

We noticed that this *national* thingy has been getting more and more repetition in the superintendent’s pronouncements. At first, Christina 3-2 Kishimoto must have figured that Gilbert Classical Academy was her ticket to that national acclaim she so desires. One problem is that GCA became controversial within the community, mostly because GCA costs more per student that what GPS spends for other, less worthy students that attend other district schools. That’s not exactly the best marketing message to be promoting at the same time GPS is trying to convince local taxpayers to approve some hefty *voluntary* taxes on themselves so GPS can continue squandering money  doing the things GPS does in the name of educating students.

Another topic that’s not so good to be discussing right now is how GPS is losing students. We all know that GPS lost 1,000 students last year. We all know that GPS also lost something like $7 Million associated with those students who have taken their money with them when they jumped the GPS ship to go to other districts or charter schools or private schools. It’s far better for GPS sycophants to say GPS lost money because the state took those funds away. But we all know what’s really been happening. Especially in the easternmost areas of the district – look at how schools on the eastern boundary are contracting. This is intriguing since Apache Junction School District is having such serious funding problems. AJ kids don’t seem to be beating down the doors of GPS schools. This is serious – the east boundary area is growing by leaps and bounds, and some of the new neighborhoods actually have charter schools WITHIN the neighborhoods. Those families have already opted out of GPS. Don’t you GPS whiz kids understand that???

On another connected level, here’s where the GCA dots connect to Christina 3-2 Kishimoto’s national thingy: GCA had long cited a *waiting list* of students who wanted to attend GCA, but couldn’t. At one time, that wait list was supposed to be really, really long. It was so long, some people took low-paying part time jobs with GPS just so they could get the *employee preference* boost on the wait list for their kids. The wait list was so long, GPS finally confessed that GCA was always intended to be a *perk* for employees (and their kids) and it was not intended to become a real public school open to the public. The wait list was one of the reasons Good Old former superintendent Dave Allison decided to shut down Gilbert Junior High School so GCA could have the campus for its own. Oh yeah, they tried for a tax override back then, as well. Good Old Dave Allison was a miserable failure in so many ways.

So here’s where some dots connect: GCA doesn’t have a wait list this year. Parents and students are not pounding on the GCA doors trying to get in to the shining star of the GPS galaxy. We’re even hearing that GCA no longer gives its students free laptop computers … GCA students are now treated like other GPS students and they get a Chromebook. Lots cheaper, isn’t it? But it’s just so ORDINARY. GCA students used to be so very special, you know. Now they’re more like any other kid in the district. Except that GCA kids have to pay if they lose or break their Chromebooks. Other students don’t. But we digress.

So it looks like Christina 3-2 Kishimoto is going to have to do something else to get on the national radar for her reforms in GPS. She just changes her mind so often, it’s hard to keep up. Just a few months ago, she recommended to the board that GPS adopt a new foreign language requirement for graduation. You heard what happened to that proposal: crickets. Kishimoto’s Rubber Stamps are already putting out feelers about closing a school (Lily Tram); building a new school (Jill Humpherys); and AGAIN shutting down Gilbert Junior High School (Charlie Santa Cruz). For the longest time, GPS just tried to ignore charter schools. Now GPS is going on the offensive. Actually, GPS is just being offensive.

It looks like the *famous* GPS marketing machine has decided to attack the public charter schools that compete with GPS for students. Brilliant. At first it was just a link to an article about BASIS Charter Schools. A community member who knows a thing or two about online marketing was aghast: “Aaaaaand a headline about BASIS is on the GPS page. Why??? *facepalm*”  Someone helpfully pointed out that unless there was some context, it didn’t make any sense for GPS to highlight an article about BASIS Charter Schools. So someone, probably Irene Paige-Mahoney-Baloney, *fixed* it:

We found it interesting that this charter has such a large drop off rate and this: “critics say there is a problem with the way political leaders and policymakers view BASIS and compare it to other schools.”

That *fix,* of course, prompted another comment (not by Westie or anyone Westie knows, BTW):

This is what happens at Gilbert Classical as well.

What could go wrong with bashing BASIS Charter Schools? Only about a million things, including that BASIS Chandler parents who happen to live in Gilbert, Arizona probably will vote AGAINST any override and bond requested by a superintendency that is so gauche as to attack BASIS schools for having attrition rates like those at GCA. Sheeeesh.

It’s one thing for Superintendents to attack the State Legislature and the Governor of Arizona in a quest to get more money for school districts to spend like drunken sailors   squander   fill in the blank  . That’s what most people call *biting the hand that feeds you.* It’s incomprehensible that GPS decided to publicly bash BASIS Charter Schools … does the name Craig Barrett ring any bells with the GPS superintendency? How about his big company, Intel, that Christina 3-2 Kishimoto would LOVE-LOVE-LOVE to *partner* with? How about the damage this will do to GPS’s relationship with Barrett Honors College at ASU?

Maybe nothing will come of any of this because GPS doesn’t have a media presence.  Maybe this will blow over. Maybe it won’t.

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