Ms. Carol Emmett wrote the following letter to the Gilbert School Board, to which incumbent Board President EJ Anderson responded with smug indifference. For additional information regarding this issue, please see Gilbert School District Officials to Displace 645 GJHS Students. The bottom line is that EJ Anderson’s mind was made up to close Gilbert Jr. High School, and it didn’t matter to her how the critical stakeholders felt about it. Blake Sacha and Helen Hollands voted right along with her. Lily Tram was not present, but she expressed the same sentiment. Staci Burk, who has always asked the most questions and pressed for answers, was the lone dissenter.
The Board and the District Officials who created the "mess" to which Ms. Emmett refers ignored their own Strategic Plan, which clearly stated that the community should have been involved in the decision making process. This Board, incompetently led by President Anderson, shoved their decision down the stakeholders’ throats.
Most politicians like EJ Anderson have learned to master the art of faking sincerity. Not EJ. At the end of Ms. Emmett’s letter, see EJ’s flippant answer. Ms. Emmett likely spent hours constructing her well written letter. Or she did it the easy way: by sitting in front of her computer until drops of blood formed on her forehead.
I wonder how long EJ spent on her "thoughtful" response.
Here is Ms. Emmett’s Letter:
Dear GUSD Board Members,
I’ve been a resident of Gilbert for 20 years.
I have two children who have gone through this district, one who graduated in 2011, and one still at Gilbert High School.
My son who is at GHS was previously a student at Gilbert Classical Academy.
I am familiar with the problems that have plagued Gilbert Jr. High, and I am also aware that the demographic for the area is of a lower socioeconomic level than the rest of Gilbert.
That being said, as I see it (and I know many others do as well), this could be an opportunity for the GUSD to rally around Gilbert Jr., and help to enable more growth and more success. But that would take time and effort, investment, and bottom line, the desire to do so.
It’s very easy to want to tear it all down isn’t it? Seems like a simple plan. If only we were talking about numbers and not people, or maybe mere robots instead of an actual community of teachers, administrators, students, and parents.
The fact is that this district was way out of line in the handling of this mess. Yes, it is now a mess.
It is a mess because you failed to disclose, inform, be transparent and proactively communicative with the schools, students, families, administrators of ALL of the schools affected by your "plan".
An analogy that comes to mind is one I recently saw on the web. It is a photograph of a very old, senior citizen couple. Clearly they are up there in age, worn, tired, and not at their best physically and probably mentally. The caption below the picture reads: “We were born in a time when if something was broken you’d fix it, not throw it away."
But alas, we are sending the exact opposite message to our youth, the rising generations of this very district. We are telling them quite blatantly that if something isn’t up to par, we toss it. It isn’t worth the investment. What a principle!
You have caused this. You have backhandedly made closed door decisions that will affect hundreds of students, HUNDREDS.
I will also tell you that I am very aware of the turnover rate at GCA. I am aware that like my son, many students try it and don’t like it, and then leave the school to attend other schools. In my case, my son went to Greenfield Jr. High School, where he was immediately happier and academically and socially adjusted, versus the more "rigorous" campus at GCA.
That’s not to say that GCA isn’t a good school. It just isn’t for everybody, and no matter how hard you try, it will never become the "standard" for Gilbert, so please take that dream out of your heads. Gilbert will not be on the map as the cutting edge community for gifted education like you wish it would. It doesn’t work that way.
I had a personal conversation with Dr. Walter Delecki one week ago about the changes you are trying to implement and he in no uncertain terms stated that it was much more cost effective to create a NEW campus for GCA, than to refurbish the campus at Gilbert Jr. High. I think he would know, don’t you?
You have betrayed the trust of almost an entire community. You do realize that, don’t you?
This decision must be done away with, and instead of this closed door deal, turned into a community effort of planning and studies. Community involvement. Transparency.
If you want people to re-elect you while you back-handedly push through your "agenda" this Tuesday night, think again..
I will personally do all in my power to see to it that none of you are re-elected to your positions, and if that means firing you all for a far-right politically leaning leadership, so be it.
Carol M. Emmett
Board President EJ Anderson’s response:
From: EJ Anderson <EJ.Anderson@gilbertschools.net>
Date: Mon, Oct 1, 2012 at 8:26 PM
Subject: Re: Gilbert Jr. High School Closing
To: Carol Parks Emmett
Thanks so much for your comments. Wally is a good friend of mine also.
How Effective is EJ Anderson at "Communicating" with Parents, Teachers, Staff, Students, and Community Members?
Knowing what you know about how Board President EJ Anderson handled the Gilbert Jr. High School closing, take a look at her response to this question posed by a recent AZ Central Candidate Q & A.
AZ Central: Describe the top three educational challenges your district will face in the coming school year and explain your strategies to overcome those challenges.
EJ Anderson: "The third challenge is communicating to stakeholders. To ensure academic excellence it is critical stakeholders are aware and supportive of programs, policies and events within the district. I would strive to communicate GPS efforts to parents, teachers, staff, students and community members as effectively as possible."
Please Vote For Julie Smith, Daryl Colvin, and Eric Johnson for Gilbert School Board.