Voters tossed all three incumbents from the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board Tuesday while approving, by a two-to-one margin, the sale of bonds to rebuild or renovate its decaying high schools.
The electorate’s patience ran out with the old regime, which had repeatedly failed to take seriously taxpayers’ entrenched lack of confidence in district leadership since the bid-rigging scandals of the late 1990s.
The new board members are charged with helping to restore that confidence, particularly through support of the unifying efforts of Superintendent John Baracy, and to improve district finances.
Of immediate concern is the necessity of a sixth high school in the district’s north, which it cannot currently afford. The findings of a parent/educator committee lack clarity.
The Tribune’s Rebecca Allen reported last week that only 28 members of the 57-member panel voted, 16-12, to recommend in principle a new permanent school. Consensus could not be reached on any of several proposals for a transitional high school.
Yet the huge support for the bonds shows that voters in the main want to see the district, in which enrollment among younger students is declining, utilize its current schools.
The board must bravely deal with the elephant that has been stomping for some time in the district’s parlor, which only midterm board member Christine Schild has been brave enough to publicly address: making boundary changes to fill existing high-school seats. Creating top-notch offerings in specialized areas such as technology and fine arts will make existing schools worth the few extra miles of travel to attend.
The new board would be wise to take to heart the fact that voters clearly chose them to make the decisions their predecessors would not.