Several folks are telling us they will be voting no to the budget override because of a lack of confidence in the leadership within Gilbert Public Schools. We are curious, do they mean the board, the superintendency, or both? The answer may be different depending on who you ask. Nevertheless, voters do not appear wholly satisfied with the current state of affairs.
Staci Burk promised during the last school board election that if she disrupted the status quo, “so be it.” She won the election top vote getter. Might a promise to disrupt the status quo earn favor among Gilbert voters? Possibly. Maybe it was something else.
One thing is undeniable, she disrupted the status quo during the last month taking a firm stand to demand fiscal accountability, transparency and curriculum that reflects the values of Gilbert, not social propoganda. She voted against sending the budget override to the ballot, telling the packed room of citizens that it was not the right time or climate to send the override to voters.
The 2011 auditor general report for Gilbert Public Schools, asserts that “Spending in the classroom [for GPS] decreased significantly from 63.3 to 59.9 percent [since the 2010 report].” Lily Tram defended this sharp fall in classroom spending, telling citizens that it was due to fixed expenses staying the same. What fixed expenses does she refer to?
Let’s see, there are utility bills. However, we have previously written about the supposed cost saving energy measures that would save the district millions over the next 15 years if we would dig deep and spend 6.8 million on these new light bulbs, climate control sensors and HVAC systems.
What other costs are fixed? The $50,000 a year GPS pays to the lobbying firm DeMenna and Associates? Why not pay DeMenna as needed instead? Many districts do not have a lobbyist. GPS pays a PR director 106K a year and also a full time marketing specialist for half that. The hiring of a strategic planner for $100,000 a year plus travel? How about the 1.5 million a year paid to the Arizona Risk Retention Trust, an organization that Clyde Dangerfield, GPS assistant superintendent of business services, serves as President of the board of directors. The Arizona Risk Retention Trust partially insures the district for liability. The millions spent on the questioned HP deal to switch the network over from Cisco? The 1.7 million dollar “worthless [Crosspointe]software” that had to be replaced? Are these examples of fixed expenses that prevent money from the reaching the classroom?
November will tell if voters are satisfied with the status quo or expect something different?