Tea Party of Scottsdale, AZ
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Scottsdale School District

Ducey signs Voucher Bill – A Win for Arizona Parents

Presented by Chêrie L.  Harbaugh,

Good Evening. This evening I will be giving you an update on SB 1431/HB 2394- Empowerment Scholarships; Expansion; Phase-In ; Revisions.  The ESA Voucher Bill.  

However, before I address the bill I wanted to first talk a little about Arizona’s overall Education ranking and the issues we face today.  Arizona was ranked the fourth worst in the US in education for this year again.  We received a D+ in a state report card in education week. Arizona again scored near the bottom in the average ACT scores by its students.  Arizona is currently and has been over the past several years below average in school graduation for high school rates in addition the dropout rate for low income students is far below average.  In 2014 we were ranked No. 51 for academic and work environment and no. 45 in the 10 yr. range of teacher salaries. In 2008 on a NEA study Ranked Arizona as the 36 in the nation for salary for public school teachers.  We were paying our teachers approximately $43,000 a year in 2008.  The average Salary in 2007-8 for public school teachers across the country was $72,000.  

Even though we have an open enrollment system in place throughout our state, which means that any parent can enroll their child any school regardless of school district during that time.  The fact remains that Arizona has 

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Board Member Barbara Perleberg on the Bond & Override

Our previous Capital Override expired last year and I supported responsible fiscal planning that stretched those dollars through this fiscal year.  The Capital Override is critical funding I support that protects classroom dollars and pays for technology, curriculum, fine arts and library materials, athletic and playground equipment, and a variety of other capital expenses.  

For all the "hard facts" and dollar amounts on the Override, and the Bond as well, please check out our District's information page: https://concrete.susd.org/files/7314/6981/7972/Elections.pdf . 

Regarding the Bond decision, I cannot ignore our District's declining enrollment and the costs of maintaining extra space, but I also cannot ignore so many of our schools in dire need of safety updates and long-overdue maintenance.  We also have a few schools over 50 years old that have strong enrollment, solid academic achievement and are unquestionably in need of a rebuild.

Under the leadership of our new Superintendent, Dr. Birdwell, we are asking voters to approve a bond with a "maximum amount.”  I support Dr. Birdwell’s recommendation that the possible sale of each bond be divided over a six-year period in approximately $40 million increments.  That allows our Board - and thus our community - to define priorities year by year and justify each bond sale.  If there is no justification to sell a bond - we don't do it. 

This approach provides the flexibility over the next 7-10 years to respond to our changing competitive environment.  Dr. Birdwell is laser-focused on driving academic achievement in SUSD.  I am optimistic that her sense of urgency will drive quick results in both academics and enrollment.  However, it’s impossible to predict how quickly SUSD will see the benefits of these efforts.  Therefore, I understand that consolidation may be an unavoidable part of a long-term fiscally sound solution.  

I'm grateful that we have new leadership ready to get to work with honesty and transparency.  I hope to be re-elected to the Board Nov. 8th so that I may continue to be our community's voice and push our momentum forward.

(since this was written, two SUSD Candidates have suspended their campaigns, so there are now 3 Candidates for 3 openings)

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Candidate, Allyson Beckham's, Position on the School Bond

Allyson_Beckham.jpegI support the bond because SUSD should invest in its schools’ infrastructure to ensure the facilities provide a safe and functional environment for higher learning. Since the state does not fund structural improvements for existing schools, our local community is responsible for investing in our local district. 

To be clear, the approval of the bond should not be seen as a blank check to be spent over seven years without oversight or careful discernment. With this investment, the Governing Board has a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure the funds are spent wisely and allocated appropriately. Of the proposed $229 million in capital bond debt, 56.6% will be used to rebuild eight schools, and 21.5% will go toward long-term repairs that are needed in all of the district’s schools. (A full breakdown of the bond’s intended uses can be found on the SUSD website under “Elections.”)

It’s important that over the seven-year period, the district administration will annually assess the state of our schools and how to best allocate the capital using data and analysis. Then, the Governing Board will determine each year whether to issue bonds to cover these capital improvements.

In making these decisions, I have confidence in our district’s new leadership, in the City of Scottsdale’s economy, and in our community’s desire to educate our children to their fullest potential. 

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SUSD Member, Barbara Perlberg - Position on the Override & Bond

Our previous Capital Override expired last year and I supported responsible fiscal planning that stretched those dollars through this fiscal year.  The Capital Override is critical funding I support that protects classroom dollars and pays for technology, curriculum, fine arts and library materials, athletic and playground equipment, and a variety of other capital expenses.  

For all the "hard facts" and dollar amounts on the Override, and the Bond as well, please check out our District's information page: https://concrete.susd.org/files/7314/6981/7972/Elections.pdf . 

Regarding the Bond decision, I cannot ignore our District's declining enrollment and the costs of maintaining extra space, but I also cannot ignore so many of our schools in dire need of safety updates and long-overdue maintenance.  We also have a few schools over 50 years old that have strong enrollment, solid academic achievement and are unquestionably in need of a rebuild.

Under the leadership of our new Superintendent, Dr. Birdwell, we are asking voters to approve a bond with a "maximum amount.”  I support Dr. Birdwell’s recommendation that the possible sale of each bond be divided over a six-year period in approximately $40 million increments.  That allows our Board - and thus our community - to define priorities year by year and justify each bond sale.  If there is no justification to sell a bond - we don't do it. 

This approach provides the flexibility over the next 7-10 years to respond to our changing competitive environment.  Dr. Birdwell is laser-focused on driving academic achievement in SUSD.  I am optimistic that her sense of urgency will drive quick results in both academics and enrollment.  However, it’s impossible to predict how quickly SUSD will see the benefits of these efforts.  Therefore, I understand that consolidation may be an unavoidable part of a long-term fiscally sound solution.  

I'm grateful that we have new leadership ready to get to work with honesty and transparency.  I hope to be re-elected to the Board Nov. 8th so that I may continue to be our community's voice and push our momentum forward.

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Governor Ducey's Letter on 4 Billion Dollars

Who says you can't make government work? 

We just did it here with the most far-reaching, high-impact education funding bill in our state's history. News like this is too good not to share, so spread the word by forwarding this message along!

We've just passed, signed, and are ready to go with a bill that:

•             Puts $3.5 billion into education to dramatically improve our schools.

•             Increases per-student funding to $3,600 each year and gives educators the resources they've been asking for.

•             Doesn't raise taxes while 

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Response from Board Member, Bonnie Sneed

Dear Ms. Shaler,

Thank you for contacting the SUSD Governing Board with your suggestions and concerns. I am pleased to see - and I hope you have followed our progress - that many of the items you suggest have been implemented in the last seven years in the Scottsdale Schools. Despite drastic cuts, Scottsdale Unified School District has reduced its administrative staff and the resulting rate to less than 9.5% (including district, school Principals, Assistant Principals, and school site staff), while improving accountability and keeping up with markedly increased government regulation. Those central administrators who remain are constantly in the schools, working with the teachers, while offering the efficiency of a central office and sparing each school site the cost of hiring separate individuals to comply with administrative regulatory requirements. Many of these regulations cannot be completed by classroom teachers. The remaining central administrators provide efficiency and ensure compliance, so that the teachers can focus on the students and do what they do best.

With the addition of 15% local support last year, we reduced class sizes, increased teacher pay, and increased fine arts offerings. We have also been able to maintain, implement, and improve student programs. We wish it could be more! The State Legislature recently reduced or eliminated budget line items, such as Career Ladder funding, that used to go directly to excelling teacher paychecks. Also, the State Legislature cut funding for building repairs and textbooks by 75%, so we have had to find ways to pay for those necessary expenses. Our administrators and departments have creatively been able to protect the students and teachers from the negative effects of the recession and continued state cuts over the last seven years.

One point rarely clarified: Arizona spends the fewest number of dollars per student on administration of ALL fifty states. Even Hawaii, with it's single-district, spends more than Arizona on administration. Scottsdale Unified School District spends even less than the Arizona state average. We are truly a national model for public school efficiency, while also offering superior opportunities and results for the children in our community.

We hope that the boost that may finally come from the voter-approved Inflation Funding Lawsuit settlement will help us do even more to make a difference in the education of each and every student and retain the very best teachers.

Sincerely, Bonnie Sneed

Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board President

3811 N. 44th St.

Phoenix, AZ 85018

Visit the Scottsdale Unified School District website at www.susd.org<http://susd.schoolfusion.us/>

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