What’s up with Gilbert Public Schools?

Remember Prop 100? Sure you do. Governor Jan Brewer shamed all of us into voting for this 18% sales tax increase last May 2010, because we owed it to our children! Without it, class sizes would increase. Plus, virtually all of the money was supposed to go into the classroom, K-12.

Remember Prop 301? The year was 2000. Former Governor Jane Hull shamed us into voting for this 12% tax increase, because we owed it to our children! Without it, class sizes would increase. Plus, according to Governer Hull, “This money will go directly to the classroom where it will help our kids; not one cent will be used for administration.”

We felt good about ourselves, chipping in a few more of our hard earned dollars, knowing it was going to help Arizona’s children.

How does it make you feel knowing that, all across Arizona, there is no more money getting to the classroom than there ever was? In February 2010, the state auditor general reported that the share of money spent in the classroom has hovered closely around 58% during the entire Prop 301 period (ten years). The share was 57.7% in 2001, and 57.3% in 2008.

What about Gilbert? At the March 22, 2011 Gilbert Public Schools board meeting, board member Staci Burk asked why there is a declining percentage of money getting to the classroom? She stated that in 2004, 64.3% got to the classroom; in 2008 63.4%; in 2009 it was 62.7%, and the latest 2010 report shows only 62% getting into the classroom.

How much was getting to the Gilbert classrooms BEFORE Prop 301 revenues started rolling in? According to the Office of the Auditor General, It was 63.4%.

So, what’s going on? Could it be that money flows into the classroom, on paper, but it flows right back out, to be spent on administration? This is called “supplanting.”

It doesn’t matter what the excuse might be. The facts are that in spite of two tax increases “dedicated to the classroom,” the Gilbert Schools manage to spend it elsewhere. Period. End of story.

If educating our children is the School’s first priority, why are they funding it last?

Whatever is going on, one thing should be clear to all of us. As long as the School’s leadership keeps pouring first dollars into the care and feeding of its own institution, why do we think they will do better with more money? Maybe they need less. That might help them focus on the students, teachers, and classroom.

The schools do not have a resource problem. They have an allocation problem. Who is going to shine a light on their activities and hold them accountable? You?