Ongoing plans: changing Board and District

operating procedures

Over the next four years, our Board needs to establish long-term plans that will bring stability to our District, administration, and schools. These plans must also ensure that transparency and accountability are key in our administration, while also remaining focused on creating innovative learning opportunities for our students. Below are 6 such goals for the Board to focus on:

1. In order to stabilize the District, the Board must be prepared to meet and work more than 2.75 days per month.

 

This is the current average amount of time the Board Members have devoted to the District, and it shows. It is not possible to oversee a District with a budget in excess of $200 million dollars that serves roughly 22,000 students and employs over 1,300 teachers by working 2.75 days each month. The Board must be prepared to roll up their sleeves.

I believe the Board should meet at a minimum of 10 times each month to discuss specific matters. At least twice a month the Board should meet with the CFO and go over financial matters. There is no need for our Board meetings to cover several topics and last countless hours. It is impossible for a Board to make any good decisions in those situations. By breaking these meetings down and being able to properly focus on one issue at a time, our Board ought to be able to work more efficiently and effectively, and provide the best results for our District's students, teachers, and community.

2. Once the SEA is recognized, we must work cooperatively with the teachers' representatives on a year-round basis to make sure that the District is a superb place for teachers to work.

 

This means making sure that the teachers are paid salaries that are not just the best in Arizona, as that is setting the bar very low, but competitive on a national level as well. The Board must understand that great teachers are the hallmark of a great District, and having the best teachers will do more to reverse declining enrollment than any other factor. All decisions made by the criminal administration of Dr. Denise Birdwell must be examined and if found to be spurious, rescinded. It is not the Board's mandate to engage in union busting or union promoting: if the teachers want to be represented by the SEA, we must recognize their acumen and work with the SEA.

3. The current structure of Board meetings is incorrect and the public is poorly served by these meetings. They must be entirely reformed to encourage open debate and increase accessibility.

 

The Board must establish a new "questions and answers" segment, so that constituents have the ability to actually engage with our Board members. Further, the use of executive session must be reserved for deliberations where the privacy rights of a student or educator are involved.  Deliberations in executive session that are designed to protect Board members from embarrassment due to their ineptitude and stupidity are improper. Additionally, we should divide the Board's regular meetings over multiple days to alleviate the time burden placed on teachers, administrators, and the public and increase accessibility. Reports and agenda items should be discussed on the first day, and public comment and voting should occur on the second day.

 

Associate Justice Louis Brandeis of the Supreme Court remarked that, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." The Board must heed this.

4. The Board must adopt a policy of pursuing the recovery of all assets stolen from the District by vendors and administrators.

 

The theft of assets must be made public, and the recovery of the assets should be pursued without regard to whether the individuals involved in the theft or defrauding of the District have the capacity to re-pay the District. The District must not be seen as an easy "mark" for con artists and thieves.

5. The Board must make sure that its decisions are based upon best practices, empirical evidence, and in keeping with the National School Boards Association ("NSBA") guidelines.

 

There is a wealth of information and resources available at the NSBA and if the members of our current Governing Board had paid even scant attention to these resources they would not have made the tragic decisions that have placed the District in peril.

6. The District must develop long term financial plans and not lurch from one year to the next.