Mike McClellan is a Gilbert resident and former English teacher
at Dobson High School in Mesa.
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Mike, I know you are from the school that says more money means better education. I disagree, more money does not equate to better educated students. You say that only 8% goes to administrative costs, does that include retirement and healthcare costs? The school districts need to stop living off of the budget overrides. There needs to be more effort to reduce education costs and teach to the core.
The override is not the only thing on the upcoming ballot. We suggest the election of four schoolboard members will have an even greater effect on the future of GPS. One of the factors that has made Gilbert much improved in the past two years has been the sustained and dedicated effort at making the town's governance transparent. Not everyone agrees with decisions the Town Council makes, but citizens feel respected and valued when their voices are heard.
Contrast that with the current style of operations of the GPS administration and the subsequent effect on the board's decisions. People who disagree with GPS priorities are disparaged as "the rabid fringe" and are barely tolerated when they speak at board meetings. Teachers face retaliation to such an extent that the Office for Civil Rights made findings about teacher retaliation; OCR is now monitoring GPS. Last we heard, GPS still hadn't figured out how to institute reform in a way that will free the district from OCR monitoring, so a lawsuit to force compliance by the OCR may be on the horizon. BTW: This writer, who is from Alabama (operative word is "from") grew up with federal supervision of public schools. GPS should know better than to thumb their nose at OCR (or EEOC or DES, etc. etc.).
Speaking of lawsuits, there was one last year alleging race discrimination (among other things) that was not adjudicated but dismissed on a technicality. That plaintiff has filed another civil rights lawsuit in recent weeks. His allegations are all more the believable when you consider that OCR found GPS students were harassed and abused at EVIT at about the same time. The plaintiff also alleged that GPS threatened him with a lawsuit for reporting the indignities his son was enduring.http://tinyurl.com/9s2q9yq
Perhaps the piles of tax money that GPS shovels into The Trust, or at least the annual Pre-Paid Legal Fees (about $75,000) would make the district less litigious toward parents and people that administrators don't like. That money would fund a teacher position and more -- perhaps that is the kind of reform voters are seeking in the governing board election. Perhaps the GPS board could be more involved in seeking middle ground with people the district has labeled an "opponent," preferably before litigation looms.
Superintendent Dave Allison acknowledged he signed the OCR resolution agreement without going to the board. It's embarassing that in order to confirm rumors about the GPS-OCR settlement, a sitting board member had to make a request for public records. Allison's quip about the matter not being over yet was undignified rationalization after he was caught withholding important governance information from the board. Transparency and accountability -- is that too much to expect from Gilbert Public Schools?
Vote yes on the override. It will not throw "more money" at the schools. It will keep the funding at its current level, a cost-effective bargain for the kids and teachers of Gilbert. Don't ruin a good thing--your Gilbert schools are better than "good", they're excellent. It is for the common good--and Gilbert is using common core, already. I tutor your town's students to supplement my "beater" [not a Cadillac...] pension. They are on the right path, educationally, in Gilbert.
Your entire article is based on the flawed premise that money=success in education. Obviously education costs money, but throwing money at it doesn't make it better.
Chat and Don, your premise is mistaken. I'm not asking for more money in the column. I'm asking to maintain most of the current funding.
Reality is, Gilbert (and the other districts) will not have stimulus money after this year.Reality might be that the sales tax initiative might lose, meaning even less money for Gilbert (and other districts).Reality is, the override is only a continuation of that funding source.
Don, I have a question for you: How many millions can GPS lose without hurting the kids' education?
$22 million?$37 million?
At what point do you think cutting spending actually hurts kids?
SIMPLE SOLUTION.....STOP THE NEW TAX AND REQUIRE EACH AND EVERY ..."GILBERT" SCHOOL DISTRICT STUDENT TO BE FROM.....GILBERT....NOT........ZACATECAS....OR CIUDAD JUAREZ...OR DURANGO...OR ASCENSION, CHIHUAHUA......
THIS WOULD SAVE NOT ONLY THE ....GILBERT SCHOOL DISTRICT MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS BUT THE WHOLE STATE OF ARIZONA TOO.
WHY SHOULD THE ......"CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES"....PAY ....$7,650.00 .........PER ...ILLEGAL ALIEN STUDENT FROM MEXICO....PER SCHOOL YEAR.
JUST THINK....1,250 (ILLEGAL ALIEN STUDENTS)....LESS STUDENTS IN THE GILBERT SCHOOLS .
P.S...........MIKE.............THE OLD TAX IS ENDING.....GONE....ADIOS.
THE ..."NEW" ...TAX IS THE ONE THE CITIZENS OF GILBERT WILL BE VOTING ON........MIKE, THE OPERATIVE WORD IS..................."N.E.W."............WHAT PART OF.......N.E.W...............DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND.........THE "N".....THE "E"....OR THE ...."W" ????????????
No one knows that answer, and no one wants to know, because that would put a cap on their appetite for spending, and make them accountable for performance versus funding.
Arizona is consistently ranked last in education, yet test scores consistently show Arizona's students to be of average intelligence when tested against other kids in the nation. Which is even more surprising when you think about how many of the kids in Arizona are ESL (Arizona ranked 6th in 2005). Obviously the ranking is based on criteria which has nothing to do with success, with money being one of the biggest indicators they use.
It must be difficult to live in Gilbert, having probably the best school district in the state, and still have the outlook that too much money is being spent on your schools.
So, please, don't vote to keep the same level of funding for your schools. You guys should be turning out students like the rest of your crackhead neighbors...
Just think, all of our children could live just above the poverty level now...in Arkansas.
And, that'll show those illegals! Maybe then, when we have no jobs, no economy, we'll have to look for work, down in Nogales...but, we'll have showed 'em, real good!! Yeehaw!!
Or, you could, you know, realise that Rush Limbaugh doesn't live in Gilbert, any more than Barack Obama does---and, vote to keep what little dignity you can claim, as a community that cares about educating its children. (I know, it's all a ploy, by the Democrats, right?)
Blue - The "ploy" is that this tax will not increase government spending on non-education programs. The government will just decrease funding from the general fund to make up for the additional funds brought in by these 'dedicated' sources.
It is a money grab, plain and simple. They are just trying to pretend it is something else.
Don, you're confusing the sales tax initiative with an override.
Leon: Froot Loop. Status quo. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to tell you that, once more.
Regarding the override:
What we have, here, is a failure to communicate. Well, perhaps not a failure to communicate, but a failure to comprehend.
I am assuming none of you are "illegals" [that despised group which is disparaged so often and faulted for everything which is deemed 'wrong' in Arizona...]. You are all native-English speaking? Did you read the piece? Do you not understand that this is not a raise in taxes, but a maintenance of funding? Do you not understand that Gilbert is an "A" district? How do you misinterpret information to this extent?
2005 is ancient history on the data presented. Since the Arpaio Rodeo started rounding up illegals, and the Pearce Bandwagon wrote SB1070, and now the Supreme Court has upheld "Show us zee papers, old man..." just this past few days [last week?], there has been an Exodus [how Biblical...Rebiblican?...] of "illegals", and we really cannot blame "them", much, anymore.
Sweet home, Alabama! READ. The information is in English, right? What's the problem? The override is to MAINTAIN funding. Check out dictionary.com to search "maintain".
For those who think we are just "throwing money" at education...
Like Mike reminds us, this is a renewal of a current tax, not a new tax (even if it was, not approving a tax increase for education is not the way to get back at administrators who are "overpaid and living the high life off the public dime"-try talking to your state lawmakers who can actually create laws to help keep administrators and their perks in check).
Also, if you look at any other organization out there in the private business world, there is a LOT more waste at the top than there ever will be in education!
One more comment about waste-how much money do people throw at sports teams/etc., yet are unwilling to renew a current tax for a school district that is an "A" rated district, particularly in a time when Arizona is ranked on the bottom nationally? Shouldn't we support those who are doing exceptionally well? If we don't, they will move to other states or those good teachers will find other jobs to support their family where they aren't criticized constantly by "arm-chair teachers" who have never set foot in a classroom to truly observe what quality teachers go through day in and day out.
When I read people's comments about "don't renew the tax" or "don't support the tax increase," the only people in the education system you are really hurting in that equation is the actual teachers, the ones who are in the trenches day in and day out with our children. With new laws being created every year that add more and more demands on teachers, do you really want to force out the good ones by cutting their pay and benefits even more than they already have been cut? How will that affect the children in the long run?
Support the overrides, every time. If our state lawmakers can't figure out where our priorities as citizens are, then we need to take local control to make it happen, and vote in lawmakers who are willing to make education a priority.
Higley is located mostly in Gilbert and is also an "A" rated district (with the majority of their schools "A" rated as well). There are a lot of things going right in Gilbert and Higley, no matter what is happening at the top. Talk to your school board to fix things, and vote out those who refuse to deal with the poor behavior on the part of administrators you may have a beef against. Be proactive more so than just making a comment on a public forum. That will not get done what you want accomplished.
Vote yes for everything in regards to Gilbert and Higley schools, and they will continue to be "A" rated and produce quality citizens who will make a difference (and help to pay your medicare and social security when you retire).
Mike, I thought your bio said you were no longer employed by the school system. No one can be such a cheerleader for a failed system that is not still on the payroll in some form or fashion. I know that this really upsets you, but a solid look at the financial picture instead of pushing propaganda might be helpful.
The problem is NOT that there is not enough tax money being funded to our schools, it is the fact that of the taxpayer money received, the school administrators have decided to take more and more of that money away from the teaches and classroom activities.
From the latest Auditor General Dollars to the Classroom report earlier this year:
"Since fiscal year 2001, total operational spending per pupil by Arizona school districts increased steadily before declining slightly in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Between fiscal years 2001 and 2009, per-pupil spending increased 47 percent from $5,374 to $7,908. However, since that time, per-pupil spending has decreased 5 percent to fiscal year 2011’s spending of $7,485 per pupil, which is still a 39.3% increase in per pupil funding.
Between fiscal years 2001 and 2009, 55 percent of the increase in spending went into the classroom. In contrast, between fiscal years 2009 and 2011, 94 percent of the decrease in spending came out of the classroom." In Gilbert, the % of dollars to the classroom has decreased by nearly 5% over the last few years. On $300 million dollars in revenue, that amounts to about $15 million annually that they have diverted from the classroom.
As to draconian cuts by the legislature, that is pure poppycock. When tax revenues to the state dropped from $9.186 Billion in 2007 to $6.066 Billion in 2010 the legislature actually INCREASED funding to k-12 by over $125 million - from $4.286 Billion to $4.411 Billion.
In 2010, the legislature increased the percentage of total tax revenues being appropriated to K-12 from 48% to 72.18% - an increase of more than 50%. Meanwhile, the 2011 total funding to k-12 , (the last year with actual numbers, not estimates) was $9.689 Billion compared to only $8.816 Billion in 2006.
Taxpayers need to know that the information (propaganda) being spun by the education community and their friends, family and advocates is totally misleading. I was taught that to intentionally mislead someone was as much a lie as telling a bald-faced lie. It is time that Arizona taxpayers have the truth. I recommend a site that is new with items being added on a daily basis - azedu.org.
Before any property owner further liens their property with increased debt, they should at least have all the facts, not just the information provided by those with a personal financial stake in the process.
So, Blue, you claim that Arizona schools have not had funding cut over the last four years? Really?
As to your "cheerleader" for a failed system, I guess you don't read much of what I've written about that system. But that's okay, since it's much easier to name-call.
As to the "diverted from the classroom" argument, as your auditor report points out, the funding in those particular years declined. But fixed costs didn't -- utilities, transportation costs, maintaining facilities (which, by the way, the state hasn't funded in years), maintaing existing programs when funding for those are cut all led to that "diverted from the classroom."
Utility costs didn't drop from 2001 to today; they increased. Gasoline didn't drop from 2001 to today; its cost increased. Since the state has not funded the Facilities Board for almost 5 years, maintaining those facilities has increasingly fallen on individual districts.
Your site you recommend is an interesting one, too, as much a propaganda vehicle as what your claim the "education community" is.
By the way, I went there and looked at the JLBC report on state funding for education.
When you read their chart, you find this: the state's funding for K-12 had dropped $5.1 billion in 2008 to $4 billion in 2012. That's a billion a year less.
The figure you're using above -- if you'll read the footnote to that figure -- includes the overrides you are so vehemently against.
Talk about deceptive. Or unaware.
Mike: Constitutionally speaking, public education is a privilege, not a right. "Slowly recovering from a near-depression"----are you serious? Gross domestic product(GDP) has been hovering around 2.1--2.4%, not what I call a recovery. A suspension of the override is a net gain for property tax payers. 10% budget loss and teachers, programs will suffer. Are you referring to the programs and those teachers involved that offer no substantial value to the core basics that students need to further their critical thinking skills? Sounds like your worried about threats to the established liberal dogma. Here's a novel concept, let's return to the "pound the basics approach". That would be not acceptable to your liberal views on what constitutes a fully functional, community activist, collectivist approach.
k33, you are wrong about public education in AZ.
You write, "Constitutionally speaking, public education is a privilege, not a right."
The Arizona constitution makes it a right, not only to have an education, but to require the state to make education as "nearly free as possible" and to require the legislature to "ensure the proper maintenance of all State educational institutions."
It's Article 11 of the constitution.
As to GDP growth, you are correct but incomplete. The growth has been miniscule, to say the least. But here's what you omit: GDP was dropping in the year before Obama took office, in the first quarter dropping by 1.8% and by the third quarter, dropping by almost 9%. So while the growth hasn't been much, it sure beats watching the GDP shrink.
As to the rest of what you write, I'll let others judge your comments for themselves.
Mike, I do not claim anything. I cite facts from sources. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee that serves ALL of the legislature, not either party, has posted the following under the title of ALL FUNDING TO K-12:
FY2004 - 7,709,180,400 FY2005 - 8,212,245,900 FY2006 - 8,816,254,600 FY2007 - 9,628,347,200 FY2008 - 9,967,624,300 FY2009 - 9,691,607,100 FY2010 - 9,803,450,200 FY2011 - 9,689,254,900
That is a 26% increase since 2004, while the student count in the district schools since 2007 has remained stagnant or declining.
From FY 2005 thru FY 2010, the residential rates increased 6.68%, the school system has special rates that are substantially lower. In addition, schools have recieved special funding on top of regular funding to replace older air conditioning units with the new higher SEER units that operate much more efficiently.
The site I recommended was established to provide the public with the other side of the propaganda that has inundated the public unanswered for decades. The big difference is they have NO personal benefit that they can derive from their site, while the schools ALWAYS have a financial interest in the story they spin.
The override doesn't create any additional revenue? (Or reduce it if ended?)
If so, then I guess I'd have to know where the money is being pulled from to decide if the override is a good idea or not. It it coming out of the city works budget? Libraries and such? Where did the funding come from?
Folks.....this argument about......more money for our Schools....has nothing to do about Schools (buildings), Books, Desks, Classrooms.........it's a a big ..."PLOY"...to get more money into the Gilbert School District Coffers so that after the.....ADMINISTRATORS...grab a hunk........the the .....TEACHERS....get a go at the hard-working Gilber Tax-Payer's .."MONEY TROUGH".These hard-working Gilbert Tax-Payers (who by the way ...DON'T HAVE 3 MONTHS OFF....DON'T HAVE EVERY SINGLE HOLIDAY ON THE BOOKS OFF...DON'T GET EASTER, THANKSGIVING AND CHRISTMAS OFF BESIDES GETTING A 2-3-4 WEEK VACATION AND 10 PAID SICK DAYS OFF....ON TOP OF... "CADILLAC" HOSPITILIZATION/MEDICAL CARE/DENTAL CARE AND VISION CARE BENEFITS....AND WE WON'T EVEN TALK ABOUT THE "CAVIAR & CRUISES" RETIREMENT BENEFITS....MONEY SLOP TROUGH)....are sick and tired of the .............GILBERT TEACHERS SCREAMING....."GIMMEE...GIMMEE....GIMMEE"....AL THE TIME AND THEIR CHILDRENS TEST SCORES ARE GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET (THAT'S WHAT THE GILBERT TAX-PAYER SHOULD BE BUYING BECAUSE THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO AFFORD A CAR AFTER ALL OF THESE ...."NEW" ARIZONA STATE TAXES and "NEW" GILBERT CITY TAXES GO INTO EFFECT ON JANUARY 1ST.
NANCY REAGAN WAS RIGHT......."JUST SAY......NO"......COME NOVEMBER.
One more time, Blue . . .
If you'll read the footnote, "All funding" includes districts' overrides. Remember, you are against those.
The column is about state funding. If you'll read that one, you'll find the accurate figures on how much the state legislature's funded schools, a $1 billion DROP in the last three and a half years.
Leon, you ought to do some research before you start one of your rants; if you did, you'd know that Gilbert's scores on all measures, state and national, are among the highest in the state and exceed by far the national averages on nationwide testing.
I'd like to know EXACTLY what the dollars from the first override went to. Specifics and details, with facts to back it up. I supported the override the first time, but I have not seen teachers raises or smaller class sizes which is what we were told we'd get. I'm not inclined to support it this time because I don't see a fiscally responsible school board in Gilbert.
Leon - word to the wise...if you didn't rant, people might read your posts, but I gave up after the first bigoted one.
Mike, I love it when you have just enough information to fool those who have no information. The fact is that you make unsupportable statements that only works when the person you are debating does not have knowledge of ALL the numbers.
The State funding ( as you know that does not include any local funding including overrides) INCREASED from $4,286,562,500 in 2006 to $4,411,699,900 in 2010. That is an INCREASE of $125,137,400. Of course in order to make that happen, they completed the mortgage of our paid off state buildings to the tune of over $4,000,000,000 that "the children" will have to pay off - long after you and the educrats who created the problem have lrft the scene.
Worse than that, the total tax funding to k-12 increased by One Billion dollars and the percentage of state tax revenues that went to k-12 went from 48.2% to 72.2%. Yep, those state legislators were really out to decimate the school system The educrats and their spokesmen - official and unofficial - accused the legislature of ( I can almost hear the violins) picking on the poor school system and used the terrorist trick of hiding behind the children.
Thousands of state employees in agencies across the board were fired or furloughed so you and your friends would not be inconvenienced. Your gratitude?? Conduct a campaign of distortion and personal diatribe against the very people who took care of you. Shameful.
Well, that's interesting, since you A. ignore the high point of funding in 2008 -- which was $5.3 billion down to $4.1 billion today. That's a decrease in the last four years.
And if you look at the inflation adjusted per student funding, it has dropped from $4300 per student in 2008 to $3100.
If anyone would like to actually read the report instead of relying on just you or me, they can read it here --
Dear Mike: Socialist, collectivists, marxists, as yourself, never cease to amaze me. Federal dollars, including "no child left behind " mandates, was what I was referring to. What are your sources for your response: Huffington Post?---New York Times?---Washington Post?----Mother Jones?---Rolling Stone? Sure, the last year of the Bush 8 year tenure was less than stellar, but what has the "Anointed One" done instead besides 16 trillion in debt, and an extension of anemic GDP growth? It chills me to the bone how many young impressionable minds you polluted with your anti-capitalist rhetoric. Public education has always historically been immersed in the liberal(progressive) mantra. I can expect no less from your point of view.
Good try Mike, but no cigar. First, the high point was never $5.3, it was $5.1. Second, these numbers include Prop 301 monies, which is solely accrued by the .006 Sales Tax addon approved in 2000 and is not a legislature appropriation. Third, the amount of funds coming DIRECTLY from that tax dropped precipitously as a result of the housing and followup economic bust. However the "Stimulus" increase from Washington - still taxpayer funds even if they came in the form of debt financed by China - and the increases in Local and County funding added up to a net INCREASE for your selected years. Also, during that same time period, the number of students in the District Schools DECLINED while the funding increased.
Using the school system argument, if a worker gets a Christmas bonus one year because the company made a lot of profit and then the following year there is no bonus because the company lost money, the no good owner cut their salary when in fact the owner went out and personally borrowed four million dollars in order to not close the company and fire the workers. When the state legislature increased the percentage of tax revenues to K-12 from 48% of the total tax revenues to over 72% of the total tax revenues, and mortgaged debt free state buildings to the tune of $4 Billion dollars, the school employees should have just said "Thank You."
Instead they made signs with four letter words, bussed in students who should have been in class and marched around the Capitol Mall like a mob causing the Capitol Police to close the doors to the buildings - AND this occurred while the total funding INCREASED. Again, Shameful.
However, MIke, your article was focused on Gilbert. According to the Auditor General, the PER PUPIL spending in Gilbert has increased by 6% in the last five years while the money to the classroom - totally decided by the GIlbert Administration and School Board - has declined by nearly 4%.
Looking at the years you cherry picked, the total revenues to the district INCREASED while there was no increase in the number of students. The percentage of total tax revenues to the classroom declined by nearly 4%, That fact alone has created a $12 million dollar reduction in classroom spending that was decided by the administration and school board acusing teacher positions to be cut while number of administrators increased by over 11%.
In addition, while the administration forced teachers and parents to provide classroom supplies "because the legislature cut the funding", they retained nearly $3 million dollars as a carryover balance at the end of the school year in the Soft Capital line item alone. The total unspent funds at the end of the fiscal year in all budget areas totaled nearly $57 million.
You complained about the rise in electric rates as a reason for the reduction in the % of money to the classroom. Well, while the increase in SRP rates increased by less than 3% during the time period you selected, the SRP GPLET payments to the district INCREASED by 50% from $79 million to $117 million, so the amount of tax dollars spent on electricity actually DECLINED. I'll bet the homeowners and business owners in Gilbert - whose electric rates have actually increased - wish they had that sweet deal. They would probably not go around complaining like their hired hands, the school leaders.
The carryover is one that many districts employ to keep funding available for the following year, since districts can never be sure about how the state will fund soft capital.
As to classroom vs. non-classroom funding, you'll note that besides administrative costs (which as you point out, increased in the last two years), student support, instructional support and transportation have increased over the last year, too.
And you'll note that the Auditor General's report says that Gilbert has "very low" costs for administration, $501 per pupil vs. the state average of $728 per pupil and the peer average of $613 per pupil.
As to the total funding from the state, you make my point. In order to see an "increase" you have to add in all forms of funding, not just what the state appropriates.
The state appropriation - -the one the legislature's responsible for -- has dropped.
The stimulus money no longer exists.
301 money -- as you point out -- had dropped considerably. Money earmarked for teacher compensation or extending the school year.
The $1 billion in sales tax might be gone after this year.
Doing a little more research, I found -- courtesy of the state department of ed -- the budget for Gilbert Schools for the last 4 years.
It's dropped from $253,196,819 in 2008 to $232,246,660 in 2011. That's a drop of about $23 million, even with the additional monies provided by the infusion of federal stimulus money over the last two years and the addition of sales tax revenue over the last two years.
Now, if those two funds were removed -- as the stimulus has after this year and as the sales tax might be depending on the Nov. vote -- you'd have an even greater drop.
Whoops! Bad math -- the difference between 2008 and 2011 is not $23 million less; it's around $21 million less.
Worse than bad math (perhaps a reason American HS graduates are now 24th in Math.), bad numbers. 2008 TOTAL REVENUES for Gilbert according to the Superintendents Annual Financial Report, that is compiled and reported by law on an annual basis, shows $301,585,237.00 http://www.ade.az.gov/AnnualReport/AnnualReport2008/Vol2.pdf
and the 2011 SAFR TOTAL REVENUES for Gilbert that shows $305,613,620.00. Not a large increase, but an increase, nonetheless.
You must admit that I have been more than fair by debating with you on your cherry picked years. You chose the one and only highest funded year in history with the economy and the resultant tax revenues at their peak, then want to compare that with times when the economy and tax revenues plummeted more than a third. With the world/US/Arizona longest recession in our history with tens of thousands of Arizonans losing their jobs, unemployment skyrocketing to all-time highs, median incomes dropping by nearly $5,000 per household with no end in sight, it has taken tremendous efforts to even hold the K-12 funding harmless.
If we looked at the five year trend - as does the Auditor General - or a six or seven or eight or nine or ten year trend, school funding grew at a tremendous increase, with a horrible record that every educator should be embarrassed of - ever lower student achievement scores. I really think that it is not only irresponsible, but callous to expect Arizonans who are going through the toughest times in their lives to have even more of their limited funds confiscated from them in order to make sure that the education community can live their lives normally and without sharing some of the belt tightening that every other American is enduring.
I am sure that you will come up with some justification for that, but I, for one, would quietly slink away rather than try to throw baseless attacks against others for not giving me more money while my neighbors were hurting.
I just got my 2012 property tax statement from Maricopa County and my Gilbert Unified taxes went up 37% from 2011 from a pure dollar persepctive!! My valuation actually went down form 2011, so this isnt a result of increased value. So you can talk in millions regarding the budgets of the schools, but when it comes down to individual homeowners that is a big increase no matter who you are. Once more people start receiving their statements and see this giant increase any budget referendums increasing or holding this new increased level the same regarding the schools are going to have a hard time winning any votes.
Again, you make my point -- that is, for the last few years, the budget's been lowered.
That's a reality. If you'll read the column, I recognize that some of that cut was not only inevitable but fair, given the economic circumstances. Your straw man won't work, since I agree with part of your argument, the larger reality of our state's and nation's economic problems having an understandable effect on the schools. In essence, part of your argument above boils down to, "We agree; thus, you're wrong." An interesting argument.
However, a cut is a cut is a cut. And there has been a cut. And there will be more of a cut because the stimulus money has run out. And the budget has been cut, as the report shows, over the last four years. And the budget will be cut even further if the sales tax goes down. And the budget will be cut even further if the override fails.
Wrong again, Mike. We do not agree. I have never run my home budget by figuring in a one year spike that I knew was not going to be permanent. The schools should not either. Again, the biggest problem is that the schools have CONSISTENTLY for the last decade REDUCED funding to the classroom that includes funding for teachers, teacher aids, soft capital, etc. At the same time they have misled the affected personnel into believing the lie that the legislature was solely responsible for any minor variations from year to year. Anyone that runs an operation as if there will be guaranteed increases every year when every economist says that there is a downturn coming is an idiot - or a school administrator. Worse than that for the years when there are real numbers instead of estimates (guesses) the total funding to schools have increased. The schools have never participated in the national belt tightening or economic downturn and selfishly tell the rest of the population - including those on fixed incomes - that the realities be darned, I want more.
I also note that the increases to Gilbert that are confirmed by the Gilbert District Finance Office was unrebutted - because they are a public record and unrebuttable.
To your other point, the practice of schools to take in more revenues than they need to cover the current year expenditures is ILLEGAL! The fact that no one has filed a suit against them for violating the law, does not make it legal.
One last point on the mindset of the school administrators. The Prop 301 and 201 as well as the stimulus funds that were targeted to the classroom were mandated to be supplemental not supplanted. The Auditor General has determined that the schools have violated and continue to violate the voter mandates.
When will the schools shoot straight with the taxpayers - their bosses? At some point, if the public figures out they have been played for suckers, the schools may face a huge backlash. Of course, the current administrators will be living in their retirement dual residences and will not care.
PS: What happened to the concern for "the children?"
How much easier it would have been for the superintendent and his assistant superintendents and their multitudinous staff members to show the public exactly what the last override accomplished and specifically where funds from this next override should be spent.
Instead, GPS stubbornly refused to account for the money that was spent from the expiring override. Anyone remember the promise to give a laptop to every teacher? Laptops went to administrators, but not to elementary teachers, and anyway, students should bring their own technology to school. Fancy new software for district staffer Andrew Szczepaniak's professional development empire? Check. SpringBoard curriculum that parents and teachers oppose? Check. Copyrighted social and diversity programs that can't be shared with parents? Check. If the override doesn't pass, some employees will lose their jobs, or their 2% stipends, but teachers and staff at Gilbert Junior High won't lose their jobs, because they've got the superintendent's promise after he announced an unpopular decision to close a campus. Much of the opposition GPS is experiencing comes from self-inflicted wounds and blowback for past retaliation by the administration. Cause, meet effect.
Blue, you and I do agree that there has been a logical reason for some of the budget cuts in our state, and we do agree that there could easily be some cuts made at a district level in GPS.
Carryover is not illegal, by the way. It just depends on what part of the budget pie is being carried over. LEA funding for TItle I and III, for example, can be carried over, with some caveats.
As to soft capital, I don't know where you get the idea that districts are reducing soft capital, since the state reduced soft capital funding by $165 million last year.
And from the chart you have referenced (the one from the JLBC), adjusted for inflation, the per pupil funding in Arizona has dropped from $8250 in 2004 to a project $7145 in 2012.
As to the rest, I guess we'll just have to see how the voters see the issues.
Last thing, Look at the SAFR reports for districts and their trend for Soft Capital Expenditures. To list just a few in the East Valley, Kyrene budgeted 6.675 million and expended less than a million rest to BalanceGilbert budgeted 2.5 million and expended less than 1.24 million - rest to BalanceChandler budgeted 4.36 million and expended less than 1.4 million - rest to Balance
Mike, see a trend yet?? Wait, it gets worse.
Mesa budgeted 9.9 million and expended less than 1.33 million - rest to BalanceTempe El budgeted 3.4 million and expended less than .43 million - rest to balanceTempe HS budgeted 4.95 million and expended - 0.00 - ALL to balance
Meanwhile, the school districts are telling teachers and parents alike that there is no money in the budget for Soft Capital items for classroom supplies.
Mike, aren't you embarrassed to be defending things like this?
You've omitted one point -- the state, in its wisdom, has let districts use soft capital for operating expenses. Many districts -- including Gilbert -- shift some of that money to other areas.
And at the same time, the legislature defunded all-day K. But parents have demanded that it continue. So many districts -- including Gilbert -- have continued to offer all-day K despite not being funded for it by the state. That money has to come from somewhere.
So the legislature cut soft capital by $165 million and cut the funding for all-day K entirely.
And your claim that carryover is illegal -- nope, a district can legally carryover up to 4% of its budget to the following year. Most districts do some of that.
Finally, to answer your question above:
I'm embarrassed by many things, but not this particular one.
Mike, the $3m end of year carryover in Soft Capital for Gilbert and the 211m statewide were not reallocated to other areas. They are FUND BALANCES THAT WERE NOT SPENT while parents & teachers were told there was no money.
As to the districts being able to carryover 4% of their budget to the following year, unless you are doing some new Math reserved to Educators only, $56 million carryover is considerably more than 4% of an approximate $300 million budget.
Next, lowering the percentage of funds to the classroom has NOTHING to do with funding all-day K. Money spent in the K classrooms is money spent in the classroom. However I am glad you brought that subject to the table,
All-day K is a boon to the AEA jobs growth priority and a free day care option, but studies prove that any minor initial benefit of all-day K to student learning is gone by the 3rd grade. Wasting $200+ million annually on a "Big Sis" program that does not improve student achievement outcomes is part of the reason our student outcomes plummeted from 1st in the world to 24th in Math a& 31st in Science. .
The legislature cut soft capital funding because schools were diverting the majority of those funds outside the classroom. In fact, district schools did not spend over $211 million in budgeted Soft Capital while the legislature only reduced funding by $160 million. They should have cut it by the $211 the schools failed to spend.
To wrap up, when you figure in the money that schools were not spending anyway in the Soft Capital line item and the all day childcare that provides no long-term benefit to student achievement scores, the funding for the rest of the k-12 system has increased - even using your cherry picked years.
Mike....I don't live in your district so local fund raising doesn't affect me. However, I wonder if you would agree to the following budget process which would affect state spending on education as well as all other government spending?
Take the total amount of revenue received last year and, under the assumption that an equal amount of revenue will be received in the coming year, fashion the state government's budget accordingly; that is, start with the most crucial spending requirement and work downward, directing money to each until the amount of revenue expected runs out. After that, no more spending until the next year arrives.
This does two major things. First, it makes a realistic assessment of what amount of money will be available to the government based upon the reasonable assumption that the economy will be at least static if tax policies remain the same. If it improves, so much the better for the following year. Second, it distributes the available funds to the most crucially needed policies first and provides a foreseeable end to spending because of it, thus balancing the state's budget every year.
Finally, what local districts decide to do is their own business. If your district decides to tax its own resident citizens extra just for education, so be it, but it should not be able to load down future generations with the problem of paying the bills. They should be paid yearly by whatever method of revenue you decide to use.
Also, approval of such "extra" assessment policies ought to be decided by a TRUE majority of the citizens and not just by a majority of those who actually vote. By this I mean, if your district has 10,000 adults legal residents who qualify to vote, then it ought to require 5,001 "aye" votes to pass the initiative, and not just 50.1 % of those who actually go to the polls. After all, democratic rule ought to actually require a true majority of all concerned, should it not? And a non-vote ought to be tallied as a "NO-vote" since actual approval has not been given.
Finally, it seems to me that it shouldn't really matter what your local rules and policies are, whether it concerns quality of the education of the students or the compensation to employees if those expenses are just coming from the residents of your own district through the TRUE majority decisions of those residents.
Wrong about All-day K -- the state specifically appropriated funds for all-day K. And then after a couple of years, eliminated those funds. So districts could cut it (which parents didn't want) or take from the rest of the budget and continue to offer it (at the expense of other things).
As to its value, parents believe it has value, enough so that when a district like Cave Creek stops offering it, the parents yank their kids. Beyond that, your absolute claim that full-day K has no lasting effects according to studies is not accurate, either. There are conflicting studies. And the Education Department is still undergoing a nationwide study of its effects.
You spin the soft capital use nicely -- the legislature would enjoy your take. However, you can find chapter and verse of the legislature permitting it. Why? Because it consistently cut funding in other areas.
And you once again try to spin -- the reality is that the legislature cut soft capital by $165 million last year. No matter how you attempt to obfuscate that.
J Nelson, I like much of the budgeting process you come up with, though I'd have to think more about the opening premise.
As to the voting, well, I guess you could apply that same principle to just about any election, since all elections have some economic effect on all of us. I've always felt if you don't vote, you essentially give someone else (those who do vote) power over you.
Big mistake. But their choice, too.
OBFUSCATE? Really, MIKE? You, the defender of the education system that is keeping teachers, parents and taxpayers misled with phony calls of DECIMATION and DESTRUCTION when their total revenues are increasing, have the temerity to accuse someone else of OBFUSCATION?
You defend a process where the schools do not spend $211 million in Soft Capital. Then you accuse the legislature of cutting core functions when it makes the proper decision to reduce funding the area where the schools do not spend the money. You then accuse the person who shines light on the intentional misrepresentation by the schools of obfuscation. I have an idea, lets eliminate the consolidated budget and appropriate each area using zero based budgeting like we used to. That would bring transparency to the process and allow everyone to know the real facts.
For you to say that reciting the data supplied by the schools themselves is spin is like our President saying that under his leadership we have achieved a closer relationship with countries in the Middle East because they are now inside the walls of our embassies.
Since when did the wishes of parents to have taxpayer funded day care define the long-term benefit to the achievement scores? Parents of small children drop off their youngsters at a school they are driving by on the way to work. The taxpayers in that district pay for that added cost. A great example of parents failing to fulfill parental responsibilities with "government" (aka their neighbors) picking up the tab.
Got my tax bill and under the heading Gilbert unified my taxes went up $160 for the year 2012 and in top of that they want us to give them more money. There's no evidence that spending more money for education gives us better educated children in fact the opposite is true.
The reasons that I am against continuing the budget override is simple. First the economy is much worse now than it was five years ago everything that we have to buy like gasoline and groceries is just about doubled in price. The second reason is the high unemployment there many people that are without jobs or underemployed. There are many people are upside down in their mortgage now and just scraping by to pay the mortgage so if we could get a break and are property taxes it would help these people tremendously. We always hear the rallying cry that we have to raise taxes for the children so we can have teachers in the classroom if that is true why is it the teachers of the first one to get laid off if there’s ever a financial crisis why is there never any administrators that lose their jobs or department heads let alone something nonessentials to classroom like bus drivers janitors cafeteria workers. A couple years ago when the town of Gilbert had a budget crisis and they said they had to have a 1% sales tax increase or they was going to have to lay off firemen and policemen we all know now that they didn’t get their 1% increase and they still hired more policemen and more firemen.
[beam] Hi Mike. ;) Chandler voters are being asked the same - to kick in an additional $27 million a year over the budget. Currently we kick in $18 mil - but since the state max is about to increase, they're going for it. I think the school board members are a little nervous about this election vowing to try again at the next if it doesn't pass. I think this prop, and the one in gilbert should show voters that prop 204 isn't the answer to their prayers. Why, if prop204 is going to generate all this money for schools, do they need to still ask the voters for more? Perhaps because they're afraid this money won't go where they think it will go?
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