Gilbert Schools Board Meeting: Jan. 8, 7 pm

Tuesday, Jan 8, will be the first meeting that Daryl Colvin and Julie Smith will attend as Gilbert Public Schools governing board members.  Gilbert Watch strongly supported both of these conservatives who were elected on November 6.  They are joining fellow conservative Board member Staci Burk for the first time.  With 5 members on the Board, these 3 members provide a conservative majority.

Please attend this meeting, not only to offer support to Board members Burk, Colvin, and Smith, but also to Jill Humpherys and Lily Tram.  Did you know that none of these people are paid for their services?   Even though we conservatives may have our differences with Ms. Tram, and possibly with Ms. Humpherys (she’s new to the Board), the truth is that we all have the same goal:   To ensure that all of Gilbert’s children receive the best possible quality education.

The meeting will be held at 7 pm, Tuesday, Jan 8, at 140 S. Gilbert Rd., Building B, Gilbert.  Click HERE to find the Agenda.  When the site opens, click on the link "Meetings," then "Jan. 8, 2013 (Tues)" then "Print Agenda," which will give you a readable view.  

Following the organizational meeting, during which the Board will choose their 2013 Board Officers, there is an important agenda item.  It is Item #7.01 Recommendations from the Gilbert Junior High/Gilbert Classical Academy Transition Team.

The reason for this Transition Team was in response to the Governing Board’s decision back in early October to close Gilbert Junior High School (GJHS), in order to provide a new home for Gilbert Classical Academy (GCA), which had outgrown its current site.  GCA is a great school that stresses top notch academic achievement, and they need the additional space.  The problem is the amateurish way the District bureaucrats handled it.  Nobody wrote a better article about this than Closing Gilbert Jr. High: Stunning Failure of Vision, Planning, and Communicating – With a Total Absence of Financial Data!

GJHS parents and others responded to the closing angrily, which Gilbert’s District Officials referred to euphemistically as “repurposing,” including improper notification to all those who would be so dramatically affected.  There were also concerns about the lack of due diligence in assessing the costs.  These concerns were well stated by Karen Udall, a former Board member, in her presentation to the board on the night they made the decision.  See Karen Udall Speaks to the Gilbert School Board 10/2/2012.

More concerns have recently come to light as 8 Gilbert Junior High School parents emailed the board a letter stating that they believed that the District violated Arizona laws.  See Letter to the GPS Governing Board from 8 Gilbert Jr High Parents (past, present, and future)

Also see a recent article written by Hayley Ringle of the Arizona Republic titled District Violated Laws on School’s Future, Some Parents Say.

When you read the law, it is crystal clear that the District was required to notify the School Facilities Board (SFB) and obtain approval prior to a school board decision.  That wasn’t done.  The decision to "repurpose" (close) GJHS was made on 10/2/2012.  The District didn’t notify and seek approval of the SFB until 10/31/2012, which then gave its approval on 12/31/2012.  Yet, the bureaucrats in the District weren’t concerned that they didn’t follow the law as it is written.  As inexplicably explained by Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield,

“We followed all the procedures,” Dangerfield said. “Whether it was technically needed to be told to the SFB is up to debate since they needed the resolution before they could do their analysis.”

ARS 15-341(g) is "up for debate"? 

Here’s an interesting detail.  One of the reasons cited by the District bureaucrats for “repurposing” (closing) GJHS was declining enrollment. Again, from Hayley Ringle’s article

“SFB did an analysis, which GPS received Dec. 31, that concluded if the district closed Gilbert Junior High, GPS in the future is not projected for growth in junior-high students that would require a request for money to build another junior high, Dangerfield said. Dangerfield said the district agrees with the analysis.”

What are the odds that GPS comes back later, when the public memory has dimmed, wanting money to build another junior high, having closed a junior high?  What will be their explanation?  "Oops!  Well, we didn’t say ‘for sure’; we said “projected.”  The devil is in the details, right?  These bureaucrats sure have a way with words.    

Did you know that many Gilbert Classical Academy parents are district employees whose children enjoy a de facto private academy that other taxpayers’ kids have to wade through a lottery to attend? Since its inception, the children of District employees have been given preferential treatment

Here’s another concern.

Do you think the Transition Team was advised to consider all options?  Or were the options limited by Staff?  If limited by Staff, doesn’t it seem that Staff is guiding the process so that the “recommendations” conform to a predetermined outcome? seems to think so:  See Gilbert Public Schools Closing Gilbert Jr. High School Transition Committee to Decide What Dr. Allison Already Decided

Please attend.  Hope to see you there.