The Gilbert Unified School District governing board is taking action to withdrawal from the Arizona School Board Association.
By a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the board agreed to place a resolution for “immediate withdrawal” from the association on a future agenda.
If the board approves the resolution, Gilbert would be one of only two districts in the state not to belong to the education group that’s been around since 1949.
Gilbert board member Julie Smith, who took office in January, brought the matter to the governing board.
“I’m requesting this is based on part of looking up propositions that ASBA has sponsored in the past, lawsuits they have been a part of that I don’t believe really reflects and represents school districts well. Also the conference I attended in December. I don’t feel the training that they did was impartial and nonpartisan as stated in their mission and vision. They spent a good deal of time railing against charter schools, railing against our legislatures. Just a lot of information that I did not feel was very conducive. And I feel the monies the district spends in tax dollars can be better spent elsewhere,” Smith said.
The district’s membership fee for ASBA is $6,000 annually.
Gilbert board member Jill Humpherys argued that there is value in what ASBA offers.
“I feel it is a beneficial organization to our district and I, as a board member, feel it has helped in learning the process of being a board member and making decisions,” Humpherys said during the Tuesday meeting. “It is also our connection to the lawmakers in the state. We won’t get (State Superintendent of Instruction) John Huppenthal to come talk to the school district, but he will talk to ASBA.”
The Arizona School Board Association offers member training, conferences and lobbying throughout the school year, said its spokeswoman Tracey Benson.
“The (association) represents the interests of local school district in the state at the Legislature, as well as legal advocacy at the state Board of Education,” she said. “So the voices of our local school boards are heard at all of those venues where school policy is being set.”
In addition, ASBA offers a “model school policy” service and sends out that information to districts as needed. It also provides an executive search service for districts seeking a new superintendent.
“We also provide some pretty essential services to school boards in the state, to help them do the most critical parts of what school boards do,” she said.
That was a point brought up by veteran Gilbert board member Lily Tram during Tuesday’s meeting.
"Where are we going to get policy updates to update our policies?" Tram said, asking that information about that come before the board.
Humpherys said she would like to have someone from the association come talk to the board to talk about the organization.
"I think it's very critical we understand this before we make a decision," she said.
Board president Staci Burk joined Smith and Daryl Colvin, also a first-year member to the board, in approving the future agenda item to vote to leave ASBA.
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