49 Questions Posed to Gilbert School District Officials

Outstanding questions/concerns from the GJHS community regarding the proposed closure of GJHS; and subsequent move of GCA onto the GJHS campus. (These questions were compiled by family members of Gilbert Junior High School students.  Five copies were presented to the school board at the January 8, 2013 meeting.)

We assert that all of these questions, and likely many more, must be answered prior to closing a campus. It is morally, ethically and fiscally irresponsible for the district to make a decision and answer these questions and concerns after the fact.

  1. How much does it cost to educate a student at GCA v. the other schools?  TOTAL cost?  And how much do we receive from the state per student?
  2. Sports at GCA?  The model for GCA is completely different than other schools, and included less extra-curricular.  The retention rate is less than 30% and said to be due to the lack of high school opportunities.  How many of those opportunities will be added by moving, thereby making it (1) more costly and (2) less like the model it’s built upon.
  3. Sports fields  – the track is a jr. high track and not sufficient for high school sports, and the soccer and baseball fields are not large enough for high school.  Furthermore, there is not lighting on the fields, and will eventually need lighting if the high school team plays on campus
  4. If GCA’s standards are so much “better” than other schools, why aren’t other schools using them, and why is their retention rate so low?
  5. Why does GJHS have to use Mesquite Jr for concerts for their 7th and 8th grade?  Won’t GCA have to do the same?
  6. What are the cost analyses results identifying GCAs needs over the next 5 years?
  7. What are the science lab requirements for AP science labs? When will those need to be put in on the GJHS campus for GCA, and at what expense?
  8. How many science stations are needed when GCA is at full capacity?
  9. What other GPS junior high schools can opt-in to become a Title 1 school so that current GJHS teachers can continue their loan forgiveness 5-year program?
  10. How many “regular” students will be lost or turned away as a result of closing GJHS and forcing the other junior high schools to near (or above) capacity?  Publish the research materials and results.
  11. How will department chair staff be properly transferred?
  12. How will GPS ensure the AVID program is available at the other junior high schools? And, if it isn’t “needed” at the other schools, why would the only junior high that has this program be the one to close?
  13. The transition committee requested different things throughout the course of the meetings, with no support from the District Representative, i.e., blueprints, lead psychologist, MJHS pros/cons, capacity of all schools within the district, etc
  14. Were any of the GCA Transition Committee members linked to the District from a financial perspective (spouse, sibling, or other family member is an employee?)
  15. With the 10 year projection showing enrollment holding steady district-wide (see numbers submitted to the SFB by GPS), why was GJHS selected for closure?
  16. The strategic plan talks of boundary changes district-wide, and the enrollment numbers across the district show a need for those changes.  Why would GPS start with one random school in the mid-age range to close without looking in detail at those boundaries?
  17. The strategic plan minutes detail the following:  Dave Allison was to work on implementation plans during Spring Break 2012, but was unable to due to the departure of a school board member.  Barb Venard was tasked with doing the implementation plans.  In June, those plans were presented and Barb was advised that they were not in line with the strategic plan, and to edit.  There is no other record of implementation plans being presented with edits.  How did they get from June development to September closure option?  Less than 3 months to research? Why the lack of research?  It took three years of discussions to attempt to implement a self-contained gifted classroom, but no detailed discussion and less than 3 months to close a school?  Why the rush?
  18. The SFB and GPS have different numbers identifying enrollment and capacity on each campus.  Please explain the differing numbers, and provide an accurate spreadsheet (showing where the research is obtained) to the public and include what the potential GPS junior high school capacities will be as a result of closing one junior high.  Case in point:  DRJHS shows a capacity of 1800 on the SFB page.  Shane McCord advised the transition committee that the capacity is “closer to that of Greenfield”.  If that is the case, then the SFB shows that we have MORE capacity for students, and their analysis is not accurate regarding possible approval to reduce student square footage.
  19. What would it take for the School Board to follow the Arizona Revised Statute regarding closure of a school, analyzing the numbers that the SFB has, revising them appropriately, look at acreage within the district still to be built upon, and then identify if closing a school is necessary.
  20. If the SFB does not provide future monies toward the cost of building an additional jr. high (if/when needed) because their capacity numbers are incorrect, how much will the taxpayers have to put out to build a new school?  Shouldn’t we ensure that the SFB has correct capacity and enrollment figures prior to asking them to analyze our district capacity?
  21. What is the timeline for a school to qualify to be Title 1 eligible?
  22. What is the cost to prepare the fields to be able to compete at the high school level?
  23. Does the electricity currently supplied to the school sign sufficient for the GCA signage requirements?
  24. Will the school board allow GCA to add additional parking spaces? GCA currently states that no change to the parking lot is needed (based on transition team meetings)
  25. How much will it cost the GPS taxpayers to add additional parking to the GJHS campus?
  26. Why would the school board force the other junior high schools to at/above capacity so one choice school can expand? Explain how this is fair to the 6,200 junior high kids so an existing 160 kids will benefit?
  27. What are the specific campus needs to make GCA an excelling campus which would attract AND RETAIN students through the six years?
  28. What is the capacity % that initiates an additional campus needing to be built?
  29. How many portables will be on each site before the School Board agrees that it’s too many for the students?
  30. Portables are not typically within the secure areas of the campus…given the circumstances that took place recently in CT, does GPS really want to add more portables to locations that do not have them?
  31. Have these (questions 29 & 30) been taken into consideration by the School Board when determining whether a school closure is the correct choice?
  32. The Board Report from Dave Allison dated 1/4/2013 suggests that Greenfield has 4 storage rooms that could be turned into classrooms, and it would cost $2,500.  The board report back in September from Dave Allison stated that the “first year costs would be between $5000 – 10000”, but it’s been identified that they will be at least $32,000 and does not include the science labs or the parking lot.  Where is the $2,500 coming from?  Has an estimate been prepared to convert said storage rooms into classrooms?
  33. How will the re-mapping of the boundaries impact capacity levels?
  34. Can the school district boundaries be re-drawn prior to determining whether a junior high school be closed?
  35. The GPS boundary policy does not currently meet the Arizona Revised Statute requirements for boundaries.  How can a campus be closed, and boundaries be redone if the policy is not in compliance with the law?
  36. What are the total costs over 5 years to incorporate GCA into the GJHS campus, not just “the first year costs”.
  37. How will redoing the boundaries affect the students traveling further to different campuses?  What will the cost be to the district on the busses?  While the state pays for the bussing, will the district incur more expenses on bus maintenance and more bus drivers?
  38. What are the retention rates at competing schools (i.e. Heritage Academy, Chandler Prep, etc)? What does GCA need to make increase their retention so they can realistically compete with the prep and charter schools, thereby truly bringing (and retaining) the dollars brought in to GPS?
  39. While the promise has been made that all GJHS staff (from custodian to administrators) will keep their jobs, it’s statiscally shown that certain specialty teachers do not typically leave, i.e. choir and band…so will “low man” lose their band job at another campus because the band teacher at GJHS is keeping his?  What if attrition does not come with specific positions (nurse, psychologist, counselor, choir teacher, band teacher, industrial arts teacher, drama teacher, etc)?  Who will lose their job as a result?
  40. How are the special education students going to be taken care of so they don’t fall through the cracks at a campus almost twice the size of their current school?
  41. According to recent reports, there have been 4 contractors who bid on upgrading the science classrooms at GJHS to include chemical showers and eye wash stations.  When are these upgrades expected, and at what cost? These upgrades have been requested for quite some time for the safety of the current students and have not been done…but since the announcement of the closure, the contractors are now looking.
  42. According to recent reports, there have been 4 bids made to fill in the GJHS pool, and convert it to parking.  When is this expected to be done, and at what cost?
  43. Science labs for AP experiments typically require gas jets which will require plumbing and gas lines to be installed.  Is this part of the future expansion for the science labs if GJHS becomes a high school?
  44. What analysis has been done, (with research back-up), on the upcoming grades…each of the feeder schools to each of the jr. high schools, per grade?
  45. Based on the capacity on the schools today, our elementary schools are at 95% capacity district wide, our jr high schools are at 93% districtwide, and our high schools are at 102% districtwide.  These numbers make it quite clear that we should not be closing a school in any area of our district. Why would we, in a time that we are coming out of the largest recession in 70 years, put our students in a situation to be in more overcrowded classrooms and campuses?
  46. We do have some schools that are under capacity, and some that are over, which keeps in line with the strategic plan suggestion to reboundary and align our schools. Shouldn’t we be looking more detailed at the boundaries per the strategic plan prior to closing one mid-age range school?
  47. Given the capacity levels, after realigning the boundaries, the district should make the case to the public to prove that we need a more viable campus for GCA to meet all of their needs.  However, it should be the responsibility of GCA to prove their ability to meet the needs of their students through their retention.  What will GCA do differently to retain their students?  The public will not support building GCA a campus if they continue to have a drop-out rate of 67%.
  48. There are still over 600 undeveloped acres within the current Greenfield Jr. High boundary area, that are zoned for housing.  How will that growth affect the capacity of the schools, and has this been researched?
  49. The district has still not completed a traffic study through the residential area of Gilbert Jr High to look in detail at what high school traffic, and student drivers can do.  That study must be completed before voting to close a school, and how much will that study cost?  That cost must be assessed as part of this proposed closure.