New GPS Board Members Struggle with “Roadblock”

Staci Burk and Shane Stapley, new Gilbert Public School Board members since January 2011, have consistently fought to put money into the classroom, but it has been an uphill battle against the Board “Roadblock”: E J Anderson, Helen Hollands, and Lily Tram.

The situation isn’t helped by administration’s budgeting system that defies logic, transparency, and explanation. With all of its moving parts, it takes a modern day Hydra (nine-headed Greek mythical monster) to see the whole thing.

The latest issue was the “Roadblock’s” refusal to reinstate stipends to elementary music, art, and physical-education teachers. These stipends were taken away about three years ago.

EJ Anderson was in favor of the stipends at the 5/24 meeting, agreeing with Staci Burk who was concerned that the district’s music program would suffer by not offering the stipends, especially since junior high music teachers received theirs.

“I have a problem with fairness and value,” stated Ms. Anderson.

Well so much for “fairness and value.” In a complete reversal on August 9, EJ voted against the stipend. Both Shane and Staci voted for it, and EJ would have been the swing vote.

Especially galling is that on 6/22/2010, the school board at the time reinstated a 2% salary increase for administrators that they had lost during budget cuts. This brought them to the 2008-2009 salary level.

That increase went to principals, assistant principals, deans and coordinators.

As Staci pointed out, “By reinstating administrators’ pay and not stipends, it may be setting a standard that administration is more important, which could affect morale.”

It’s very clear that Staci Burk and Shane Stapley are literally the only board members who continue to challenge administration to cut nonessentials and streamline their budget, and spend the money on teachers, students, and classrooms.

The schools seem to have money for every capital improvement, consulting, and interminable committee-methodology-matrix project.

One wonders why some administrators are paid high salaries if they can’t figure out an equitable salary system. The ability to lead the organization toward excellence also appears to be beyond their “scope of practice.”

Try this: Put first dollars toward your first purpose: Educate Gilbert’s children to be good American citizens and equip them with the skills they need to compete and excel in the workforce.

Here’s an Arizona Central article by Hayley Ringle: http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2011/08/10/20110810gilbert-school-board-nixes-more-teacher-stipends.html

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