Another Reply:.... You seem to be agreeing with me (not the previous writer) that the big deficit was announced in 2012 rather than 2013. Yes, it was predictable and related to the end of the stimulus funds. I will not repeat what I wrote before, but it seems consistent with your recollections... I do well remember the terrible fallout it had on the schools, the great push for school closures that came that year, etc.
More people are registered as Independents in this state than as either Republicans or Democrats. Many of us do not fit well into either current party.
The 100-day plan is just that... it is not intended as a long-run vision statement. It was developed over months and I believe that it is realistic and would be a significant start to a long process of positive change.
The community input into the strategic plan was great, and some things in it make sense to me, but the plan as a whole is a mess. There is no way that an organization this large and troubled can create a coherent 5-year strategic plan that quickly. It is good to have a plan, but TUSD has the habit of sticking labels on messes and calling them successes.
I have much respect for the USP, which is far better than the PUSP put forward under the Fagen administration. I have a good relationship with Dr. Hawley and great respect for him. But some things in the USP were too ambitious, as I think the subsequent history has proved.
It is surely true that not all principals in the district can handle higher levels of responsibility, but I am not proposing to end oversight. A one-page 100-day plan is obviously not a complete plan, and I am definitely NOT the educational expert who knows all the answers. TUSD needs to make more and better use of the experience of other districts, in Arizona and nationwide, and a broader range of experts than it currently employs. The solution to bad curricular (or similar bad educational decisions) is not a board that has expertise in curriculum but a board that, directly or indirectly, puts into place a top curricular team.
Yes, my letters have been critical, and some things in TUSD are going well, but I am very concerned about the overall trajectory. I agree it would be good to write more about the positive things, and I will try to do so, but it is also important to draw attention to what is going sideways. Those are the things that tend to be left out of official TUSD communication.
I like your comment, and it seems that in substance we agree on much. If the board changes in a positive way, then I hope we can convince you that TUSD can indeed be a much stronger district than it is at present. I think that many of us outside of the current board majority have similar (not identical) goals, and I am optimistic that positive change can occur regardless of which of us is elected.
(Reply to) Reply to Stegeman: I always believed, and said at the time, that the $17 million deficit was exaggerated, to create a public case for closing schools. (But my memory was that the $17 million was TUSD's messaging in spring 2012, not 2013, so we may be talking about different situations.) There was a revenue/spending imbalance, but not that large. The board relies substantially on staff for budget analysis, perhaps more than it should, and in 2011 the staff itself provided no warning of that imbalance. This is somewhat similar to what happened with 301. As you say, I am willing to accept my part of the responsibility for the 301 buildup (though I usually voted against the 301 plans), which is more than we have heard from the other board members. I have never claimed to get everything right. Obviously I need to study the district's audits and financial reporting more closely.
I have also never claimed to stay true to a "progressive" agenda. That is one reason I left the Democratic Party. My policy positions do not line up closely with either party (at least as those parties are presently constituted), and I am uncomfortable being accountable to either party's platform.
A well-functioning audit committee can greatly help the board to keep abreast of budget and financial issues and potential problems, but the current majority has eroded or eliminated the audit committee's independence, which I think is a major loss.
Yes, the lurching around in the budget, from which the magnet schools for example have greatly suffered, is absurd. I would like to reform the entire budget process, and that is one reason that I have voted against the budget for years. Reforming that process will take at least one more vote on the board. I think Betts would be a good choice.
Yes, there are many issues where I would like to be reporting more to the public, your point is well taken, but the prolix letters are a lot of work. I should probably write more letters and shorter ones -- many persons have given this advice.
Someone above wrote: "As for Stegeman, he has his own agenda and when he was part of the board majority rather than the minority he proved no more able to act in support of fiscal responsibility or of the common good of all enrolled students and teachers than any of the current majority."
I was never part of the "board majority" because before the current administration there was no "board majority." There were five separate members who aligned different ways on different issues. I have cast votes against many of things that have got TUSD into trouble, but I am often on the losing end of the vote. Holding me accountable for actions I disagreed with is like holding the Democrats in the legislature accountable for whatever the Republicans do.
However, I do agree with you on one point: Betts would make a fine board member.
David, your indictment of me would be more convincing if you ever spoke to me or went to a board meeting. You have provided absolutely no specific evidence for any of your broad allegations and basically cut and pasted what you wrote four years ago. And, by the way, game theory is the foundation for most modern theoretical economics but not my primary specialization.
David, this is not so complicated. (1) Over the past several years, the 301 plans were designed in a way that caused millions of dollars intended for teachers to instead accumulate in the bank. Read TUSD's accounting statements and external audits if you have any doubt. The amount not spent has accumulated to more than a full year of 301 funding. (2) None of the one-time 123 money and only a quarter of the ongoing 123 money went to teacher raises (notwithstanding promises to the contrary just a few weeks before). (3) The pay for long-term substitutes has been significantly cut. That is it. It is quite straightforward, unless you are deliberately trying to obfuscate it.
jhuppent: I agree with almost everything you wrote. TUSD's capture ratio (share of TUSD resident children who enroll in TUSD) is about 65%, the lowest among Arizona's large districts. Enrollment at the other large districts has stabilized on average, while ours still falls. Our administrative spending percentage is 2.5% higher than the average for the other large districts, which equates to $11 million. We can do much better. The "good" news about the capture ratio is that there is much upside. Nobody does better than about 85%, but I believe that TUSD could gain 5,000-10,000 students back by improving the quality of its product. I agree that Chandler's management stands out among Arizona's large districts. TUSD could learn much from them. I think that Gilbert provides another strong example.
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