It’s no secret that Gilbert Public Schools has money troubles. Who doesn’t? All of us are slogging through an economy that has affected not just the schools, but also the private sector. The difference is that we in the private sector have gone line by line through our household expenses, to cut back on non-essentials, find less expensive ways of doing things, and pay down debt. We are responsibly working on our balance sheet.
That’s too much work for the schools. So, to maintain their status quo spending, the Governing Board raised our property tax rate on July 5, 2011. Board member Staci Burk voted against it.
In late September, as the District struggled with confounding budget issues, former Board member Shane Stapley proposed that they put together a 40-member Community Budget Committee (CBC). To his credit, Dr. Dave Allison and his staff had been doing their part by cutting back on utility costs, and saved $2 million! It’s amazing how much you can save by turning off the lights when you leave a room.
The next event is truly remarkable, since it occurred less than a month after Dr. Allison announced the Community Budget Committee. One would think that, after acknowledging the seriousness of the District’s revenue problems, there could be no way that Dr. Allison would recommend teacher and administrative staff salary increases, but he did!
On October 25, 2011, Dr. Allison and Staff convinced the board that there was enough money in the budget to justify across the board salary increases to both teachers and staff. The money (about $2 million) had been found through attrition/job vacancies, increased student enrollment, increased Prop 301 funds (tax increase from the year 2000), etc etc etc. I was present at that board meeting. The room was packed with teachers and staff, and they exploded with applause!
Alas. On March 6, 2012, economic reality once again sets in. Dr. Allison was in the doldrums, poor fellow, having to present to the Board and the public his District Budget update, which included two different proposed budget scenarios: Governor Brewer’s and the Legislature’s.
Gilbert Watch noticed something about both budget scenarios. Now that the Board has increased our property tax rate, and now that salary increases have been passed out to teachers and staff, it is obvious that the District’s budget requires the continuation of the 10% override on the private sector’s property taxes. If not continued, there will be a $17.6 million shortfall.
All it takes to improve education is a little more money, and the bureaucrats in the School District have concluded that the taxpayers will always "be there for them."
I don’t buy it. If teacher morale in the schools is down, it isn’t from a lack of money. It’s because there is no reward for top performers, and very little accountability for low performers. This is why Socialism is such a rotten system. It doesn’t matter if you are the best teacher in the District, or the worst. You get the same pay increase and an equal share of misery.
But, in the bureaucratic world of Dr. Allison and Staff, all you need to squeeze more money from the taxpayers is a little Razzle Dazzle, illustrated in the video below.