In a recent column I wrote about raising the level of confidence of the public, especially when it comes to voluntarily raising property taxes by voting for an override. I didn’t have the space at that time to fully comment that efforts to raise confidence in Gilbert Public Schools are well underway.
A list of existing accomplishments includes the following:
• The budget and spending process in our district is the most transparent and open than it has ever been.
• Our board meetings are now live-streamed and archived over the internet for all to attend at their convenience, and we are working to have them broadcast live on cable.
• Our district has transitioned from one of the lowest in parent satisfaction with the Special Education Program to one of the highest.
• We are now recognized as No. 1 in the state in academic progress in this area.
• Speaking of academic progress, our district has transitioned from a “B”-rated district overall to an “A.”
• The separate scores for our individual schools continue to improve as well.
• We instituted a true pay for performance plan for our teachers, a plan that will continue to improve over time.
• We implemented a PE credit waiver for our hard working marching band students. We implemented a self-contained gifted classroom.
• We discontinued the use of a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the teachers union and transferred all the important language over into policy for the benefit of all teachers.
• We restored an American tradition of having an invocation at the beginning of our board meetings.
• We refused to give in to fear mongering tactics from the State Department of Education and did not sign a Common Core declaration.
One of the most important things our board did was reinstate the policy of the board setting the agenda for board meetings. For almost fifteen years the Superintendent set the agenda. This made no sense and is contrary to proper governance. Whoever sets the agenda controls policy. The elected board members are responsible to the voters for district policy and now that control is properly returned to the board.
One of the most important issues that I campaigned on was a pro-family, pro-America curriculum. One of the most effective ways to stem the flight of our students to private charter, private, and home schools will be when parents no longer feel that their values are being undermined by the very schools they’re forced to fund. Given the current state of the textbook industry, this issue will require no small amount of skill or commitment.
To summarize where we’re going with our staffing, let me state it this way: We are working diligently to replace the antiquated spoils system of patronage, cronyism, and nepotism with a more modern system which allows all employees and applicants equal access to a genuine merit-based system. I am also working on connecting Neely Street across the railroad tracks to help ease traffic congestion at Neely Traditional School.
It has been extremely encouraging to see both the sheer number of applicants for positions, as well as the extraordinary quality of new staff members recently hired. With the voters there is what I call a delayed feedback loop, but over time, the level of confidence in our excellent Gilbert Schools will rise to unprecedented heights.
• Daryl Colvin is the clerk of the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board.