Guest Editorial

SEPTEMBER 14, 2011

Dear CCUSD Superintendent and Board Members

Respectfully submitted by an anonymous CCUSD parent and community organizer

I'm writing you regarding the upcoming "override" election in the Cave Creek School District. I have four children that attend CC Schools and have attended for the last 10 years. We are very involved parents in our kid’s schooling, are educated ourselves and want the best for our kids and others alike.

My purpose is to express my strenuous opposition to the override, what I plan to do to fight it and why others should be opposed to it. I am a professional in the community, have the support of many and am a very persuasive speaker who supports my beliefs with facts, not fiction or scare tactics. I will keep this brief, factual and common sense based, unlike educators and administrators.

This "override" is actually just a smooth word for increase. Again. You want a $4.4 million increase just in the first year rather than working within your budget and attempting to decrease it like most families and businesses have had to do through these tough economic times. The decrease would only be 5 – 15 percent (projected) at most. My personal and business budget has had to be decreased more than 50 percent just to survive and maintain while my expenses and cost of living are continuing to increase and you're asking CCUSD families to increase their expenses even more so you don't have to. In order to succeed I work twice has hard, twice as much and I save more creatively. How about some shared sacrifice from CCUSD in these times and have salaries and benefits decreased for the benefit of our kids and their education. Our incomes have already been decreased. Has yours?

Rather than producing FAQs that are fear driven, how about you give us some guarantees of what this increase will do to improve our kids’ education. In the private industry, that is called ROI (Return on Investment). Can you guarantee with an increase in budget that AIMS scores will improve in the “exceeds standard” category by 15 percent, 5 percent or that at least it won’t be worse? I doubt it. The facts show that increases in spending and in budgets do not improve kids’ education and this override will be no different. Look at the AIMS scores published by the Arizona Department of Education, not the manufactured numbers produced by The ADE report shows that 3rd graders in 2005 exceeded standards in Reading by 17 percent, Writing by 21 percent and Math by 29 percent. Those same students four years later in 6th grade in 2008 exceeded standards in Reading by 9 percent, Writing by 4 percent and Math by 30 percent. To sum it up that's a decrease in Reading by 8 percent, a decrease in Writing by 17 percent and a dismal increase in Math by 1 percent. Just so I haven't isolated one group of kids and skewed the numbers, I took the AIMS results by the ADE for 5th graders in 2005 and it shows the following results in exceeding standards; Reading 17 percent, Writing 4 percent and Math 36 percent, exceed. Those same students four years later in 8th grade exceeded standards in Reading by 12 percent, Writing by 11 percent and Math by 24 percent. To sum it up again that's a decrease in Reading by 5 percent, a decrease Writing by 7 percent and a decrease in Math by 12 percent. As educators you should see this is a failing grade. I'd give most of you an F and fire all of you. Why would we as taxpayers and parents want to increase your budget to KEEP teachers and administrators who are not getting the job done and are failing at their jobs? I contend that voting no on the "override" would actually improve our kids’ education by getting rid of teachers and administrators.

Not only do you fail at educating our children you also fail at managing a budget and a business. You continue to make bad decisions, waste money and spend time intruding into our children’s lives. By this point I'm sure you assume I'm some ultra conservative who is ideological. Well, I'm not. I'm an independent citizen concerned about the failing and corrupt school system who uses our kids as a pawn when it's convenient for your agenda to keep your salaries high and benefits endless at our expense. Let me explain:

You spend $2.2 million on a school parking lot that was fine to begin with for the addition of 50 spaces. That's a cost of $44,000 per space. The ironic thing is that most of the teachers’ autos are worth far more than the extra spaces. Sorry I’m just doing what you all do and that is reduce it to the ridiculous, like says regarding the increase; it’s only a cost of $2 per month for the average CCUSD homeowner. I know the parking lot is bond money and has certain requirements, blah, blah, blah, but it’s unnecessary and I’m sure could have been saved in some fashion. It’s hypocritical. Why don’t the teachers and administrators carpool more, or use public transportation and help save our environment? In following with the “green” movement taught in school you’d think they practice what they teach. Then you have parents having to spend their own time and money to improve a baseball field that is actually a safety hazard and we stand there thinking “why can’t the school spend a couple thousand dollars to fix the field which is a safety hazard when they are blowing $2.2 million on a parking lot?”

Here’s another example. You implement everyday mathematics because it’s going to be so great at improving our children’s’ learning, when in reality it is probably just created to justify someone’s position at the administrative level, only to find out that math scores actually decreased. So you scrap that project, throw away all the expensive textbooks and teacher training, just to go back to traditional math that should have stayed in place anyway. I’m sure the people who made that decision are still employed today only to be making bad decisions again tomorrow.

Here’s another. You eliminate chocolate milk because it’s too high in sugar (16 grams), but then sell Flav H2O, which is higher in sugar (20 grams) than chocolate milk. But I imagine that’s okay because it’s a revenue source for the district. So now students will drink Flav H2O, which would increase parents’ costs if they allow their child to drink it.

Here’s another. The approximate teacher salary is $38,724 not including their generous benefits. Keep in mind that’s for the school year, which is eight months. Averaged over a full year the average teacher salary is equivalent to over $58,000 a year. Not too bad for someone working from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and who enjoys multiple holidays throughout the year. Yes, I have seen almost the entire school parking lot at multiple schools empty at 7:30 a.m. and empty again at 4 p.m. If you’d like time stamped photos I’d be happy to send them to you. Then there are the administrators who really have a sweet deal with pay for many in the six figures.

In summary, you can see the hypocrisy of CCUSD, the mismanagement, the waste of funds and most importantly, the lack of education they are giving to our children. CCUSD is no different than most any public school throughout the country, so don’t feel so alone. I intend to expose this factual information to average voting homeowners throughout the CCUSD district. The failure of the “override” will not negatively impact any of the students’ education since most of it has to be done at home to be effective anyway. The test scores will continue to remain mediocre and then, maybe then, the education system will figure out a way to survive without a bailout from the taxpayers. It would be so much more productive if the leaders of the school system would spend more time and effort educating kids and working within your budget, than spending their time on elections asking for good money after bad only to have zero effect on bettering education.