Perhaps the governing boards of other Arizona school districts can learn from this role model of success. You can expect WAR from those who support the status quo. That’s what these board members faced, but they fought anyway.
Not only has the current conservative majority Gilbert School Board brought the schools from a "B" to an "A" rating per the Arizona Auditor General’s report, but they have also been responsible for many other positive changes. Some of these were initiated by current Board President Staci Burk when she first joined the board in 2011. Others were accomplished by the conservative majority, when Ms. Burk was joined by Board members Julie Smith and Daryl Colvin in 2013.
Here are 19 items initiated by the conservatives that Gilbert Watch found:
1. Began livestreaming meetings.
2. Ms. Burk pushed for zero based budgeting.
3. Ms. Burk voted against Springboard curriculum (which was highly recommended by previous Director of Curriculum Barb VeNard), based on its poor quality and inappropriate material not consistent with the culture of the Gilbert community. As a private citizen Ms. Julie Smith spoke out against Springboard.
4. Saved the District several hundred thousand by insisting that the attorneys take the Crosspointe litigation on a contingency.
5. Implemented a true teacher pay for performance program.
6. Discontinued the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Gilbert Education Assn (aka "the union").
7. Reduced class size at K-3 grades.
8. Implemented a PE credit waiver for the marching band.
9. Started a self-contained gifted program.
10. Reversed the recommendation by previous Superintendent Dave Allison and board to close Gilbert Junior High School. GJHS remains open.
11. Changed a policy that allowed staff to accept gifts and meals up to $50 from vendors (even during the bid process), to no gifts or gratuities from vendors.
12. Changed recognitions at the board meeting from special education staff quarterly to recognizing all staff.
13. Continuous improvement in transparency of finances, reflecting more information every quarter in an easy to understand way. The transparency of finances is now to the point that every penny spent is on the website in Excel format.
14. Ongoing community budget committee for input and priority setting with the zero based process.
15. Discontinued paying $50,000 a year to a lobbying firm, and Ms. Burk has assumed those duties.
16. Withdrew membership with ASBA (Arizona School Boards Association). This organization had funneled over $1 million into Prop 204, a permanent sales tax increase.
17. Established a surplus space committee to ensure maximum use of space and efficiency.
18. Refused to sign the Common Core (aka Arizona College & Career Ready Standards) Declaration.
19. Brought back Invocations after previous boards had refused for 14 years.
Gilbert School Board Struggles to Allow Parents a Voice in Choosing Reading Materials (Begin watching the video at 01:13:00 to see how hard both Ms. Tram and Ms. Humpherys fight against Ms. Smith’s desire to fulfill one of her most important board responsibilities: "to provide parents and members of the community with a voice into the education of their children." )
Gilbert School Board to Vote on Common Core: Tuesday, Oct. 1 (Note: In a 3-2 split, the Conservative Majority voted No to Signing the Declaration. They joined Heber-Overgaard’s governing board, who also voted against signing the Declaration. See Heber-Overgaard Schools Governing Board votes NO to signing Common Core Declaration.)