Since the November election many Fountain Hills residents have been shamed for not voting yes on the $20 million bond. The Fountain Hills Athletic Booster Club and Gridiron Club have taken to the streets of Fountain Hills and now continue to blame and shame residents with a “round-up” your bill at our local Ace Hardware stating on their Facebook pages that all “funds will go towards replacing the condemned Football/Soccer Field.” The campaign raising money is in itself not bad, but a look behind the curtain reveals much more and warrants keeping a close eye on this project to ensure there is no repeat of the previous mistakes.
It seems we have further laziness or negligence by the prior school board who couldn’t be bothered to remember the details until the bond didn’t pass and the community blamed for no football. Why didn’t anyone in the district think to look back at the warranty and installation agreement before asking the people of the Town of Fountain Hills to open their wallets to pay for a field under the bond or now with the “round-up” donations at ACE?
After a little digging, we found where AZ Central reported about the artificial turf installation on April 1, 2014, from a presentation by Todd Steffen, director of pre-construction for Core Construction the following was reported, “The turf field would have a 10-year warranty, but could be expected to last up to 15 years. At that point, the top carpet layer would need to be replaced at a cost of about $250,000,” Steffen said. The Alternative previously shared an article outlining how Core Construction participated in the corrupt Gilbert Public Schools Pay to Play by donating money to the GPS Override PAC. Did Core Construction take shortcuts as they are listed as a no-bid vendor? Will the superintendent decide to utilize RYTAN Construction this time around as the no-bid vendor as they donated $2,500 to Yes for FH Student’s Campaign Committee?
Additionally, on 4/11/2014, AZ Central’s Headline read - Fountain Hills schools may cut 12 jobs! While our community is being shamed for the bond not passing, history says otherwise. In 2013, despite receiving a yes vote on an $8 million bond, the district still fell short on its budget and began discussing eliminating 12 jobs, no longer paying for sports teams to travel to tournaments or paying for Arizona Interscholastic Association dues and stipends for teachers. Where was the outcry from the parents and current board members then when discussing the elimination of such items? It seems some are quick to point fingers when they were on the board making these poor decisions. When is enough ever enough? Even after receiving an $8 million bond the prior board still fell short.
The Alternative has uncovered that FHUSD has probably been caught up in a product scandal of a much larger scale. In June of 2018 it was widely reported in an article Artificial turf fields are failing across Southern California, costing millions. Here’s why. – Daily Bulletin . Read this article carefully and one will see all the arguments of turf vs. grass used in FH to justify turf. No one here is suggesting that the Board of FHUSD, Superintendent, or Athletic Director could have known of this particular inferior product back when it was installed. Or with a little research should they have known, as it first came under scrutiny in 2009? But who was responsible for paying attention a few years later as our local field began to fail as the article states?
What is the common thread to all these failing fields? It appears from the article that this product was installed primarily at schools, city parks, community colleges or to be more specific, wherever tax payer money was available. Sound familiar Fountain Hills? Further, the problems with this material were known just as FHUSD was installing its field. Did anyone from FHUSD, board or otherwise, do any research before spending $1.5MM?
If the turf was installed in 2014, did it have the 10 year warranty that Todd Steffen of Core touted as was reported by AZ Central? That would imply the field is still under warranty. Why did FHUSD pay Field Turf USA $5400 on 11/9/22, one day after the Bond was defeated if the field still should be under warranty?
Let’s delve a bit deeper into what organizations are heading up the “Field of Dream’s Fundraiser.” While the Field of Dreams fundraiser is being “overseen” by The Fountain Hills Athletic Booster Club the contact information is for the FH Gridiron Club. Who sits on the board of the FH Gridiron Club? Dr. Wendy Barnard, FHUSD school board member for the last 8 years and outgoing VP along with her husband, volunteer assistant football coach. Is the Field of Dreams their way of pressuring the community into feeling bad for not supporting the bond and override when it was really Dr. Barnard’s lack of fiscal responsibility and memory of what the agreement was with Core Construction? Or are they holding FHUSD student’s hostage so they can have turf instead of playing on grass?
With the FH Athletic Booster Club working collaboratively with the Fountain Hills Unified School District’s Superintendent and the Athletic Director, the question begs to be answered why the Superintendent is allowing conflicting information to be posted by the Boosters when they state that the field is out of warranty? "The life of a turf field is 8 to 10 years old........As the field started to deteriorate before the 10 year mark, it was determined that there may have been defects with the turf. While the warranty may have expired, we are looking into some compensation; however will not cover the costs to replace the entire field."-FHsports.org
Remember Todd Steffen of Core Construction stated, “The turf field would have a 10-year warranty, but could be expected to last up to 15 years. At that point, the top carpet layer would need to be replaced at a cost of about $250,000.”
The Field of Dreams FAQ page states all funds will be used to purchase the field, and weekly updates will be made publicly available as well as financial records showing transparency. There was none of this found on their website or Facebook pages as of this writing.
In summary, what's the takeaway from all of this?
The bad news is FHUSD still needs a football field and the same management seems to be in place that mismanaged the money the first time around with the exception of the superintendent. The good news is funding this time around is in the hands of the private sector through donations rather than fleecing the taxpayers. All residents are free to contribute at their own comfort level.
This bears watching carefully as the talk of the field continues. Beware of bad backroom deals happening in the dark. If the district decides to handle this project in the light, sharing the results and process of the warranty conversations with Core Construction, consider replacing ONLY the playing surface, and showing the costs of such, FH residents should rally around the district and offer monetary support. However, if this project continues to be the nightmare it seems to be, they may be condemned to only dreaming of community financing.
The article entitled, "WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY WHEN CONSIDERING BOND", by Marshall Tucker, still prominent further down on this home page, couldn't be more accurate given the current circumstances. This is exactly what the Reclaim Our Town, Big Orange and Blue sign's messages were pointing out with their "No" on the Bond and "No" on the Override. The two measurers went down but apparently it was hardly a speed bump on the Education Spending Road for the folks who currently sit on the Fountain Hills Unified School Board. They are racing the clock calling a Board meeting with Executive Session set for Wednesday December 14th, 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM at the FHUSD Learning Center, pushing through a mountain of wasteful spending before outgoing President, Nadya Jenkins and Dr. Wendy Barnard bid farewell.
This meeting comes less than 24 hours BEFORE new Board members are sworn in thus circumventing any discussion from the two new members, who happen to be fiscal conservatives, Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid. This writer has learned the Agenda includes a salary increase for the Superintendent, Dr. Jagodzinski who came in to replace the Superintendent who left in a whirlwind of controversy. Dr. J as he is called went out to the community prior to the November 8th General Election making a case that the District needed more money. This is an old play book for schools, they don't live within their budgets, they spend money they don't have and then go to the voters time after time after time. The District couldn't make it on its current revenues he claimed and needed the Override and Bond on the ballot to pass to insure continued funding for District needs. Both measurers failed, and yet it appears a bit over 30 days following the election there is sufficient monies for Dr. J to get a salary increase? The response from the community was clear, the Superintendent needed to produce a Plan going forward for living within the current funding, produce detailed Plans to increase enrollment, achieve better outcomes and specific usage of additional funds. To date that has not occurred.
Also on Wednesday's Agenda 14Dec2022 Board Packet - FH Times.pdf (fountainhillsschools.org) will be the matter of Consolidation; that is taking the grade school program out of McDowell Mountain and consolidating it in the Middle School. Not a parental favorite, mixing little kids with emerging teens, but necessary if dropping enrollments in the District and escalating facilities costs cannot be brought in line. So why in the world if McDowell Mountain is to be emptied is the FHUSD's outgoing board proposing to spend....almost $200K in renovation costs for McDowell that is now to house only a financially failed pre K program, as well as other outgoing board approvals of over $190K?
Why not move the financially struggling Pre K program out of McDowell and into the middle school and find another cash generation use for McDowell? No Plan. No Smart Use of Facilities. No Thinking Outside the Box. Just more money spent.
The Alternative asks that all readers IMMEDIATELY contact the Superintendent and the Out Going Board and tell them to POSTPONE THE VOTE UNTILL THE NEW BOARD IS SEATED ON THURSDAY AND CAN HAVE A MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION. The outgoing board also intends to go into Executive Session, that is where the public may not be included or hear the proceedings where staff salary and the Superintendence's contact will be discussed....so weigh in on that too.
Repeatedly, this current board and some candidates up for seats in the upcoming election have emphatically denied that the left-wing social justice mumbo jumbo does not exist in Fountain Hills Schools. This, all the while asking for $20MM plus in bonds and overrides from the taxpayers for declining enrollment. With an average age of Fountain Hills residents of 59 declining enrollment would seem to be a natural course. But upon further review we find out that there are approximately 3000 school-age children actually in town, but only about 1400 in the FHUSD. The Alternative decided to take a look into the school board to see if there were any obvious reasons for this poor enrollment given the current nationwide environment where parents have had enough of social justice, transgender, pronouns, hate America, CRT, SEL and the like. 5 days ago, October 26th, 2022, the current board, in a work study session discussed spending $33,233 over 3 years to bring into the Middle School a program with a group named AVID.
So, before we begin, understand this program was already introduced into the high school in 2017-2018 school year with a grant from the VCJ Family Foundation, a nonprofit of Vern Johnson, father of Fountain Hills resident Dwight Johnson. As Superintendent Jagodzinski said, "the reason there was support from the foundation it met their vision" referring to AVID.
Now to be fair this board meeting was a work session, and this was only a discussion, not an approved expenditure, yet. They need $20MM from the taxpayers to help out with stuff like this. But the discussion was a budget estimate for Middle School next school year, so they are looking to spend on this program. Click on the picture to the right for a link to the budget item and title. Good luck knowing where to look without this link and this document is on page 12. Can anyone say transparency?
Seems all rather innocuous so far, just another classroom expenditure. Until you discover who AVID is. Here they are. Board of Directors - AVID . "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion". Click the link and you will find the word "Equity" mentioned 5 times in 135 words. This stealth program is about as woke as it gets. But wait, it gets better. These people have discovered how your school board can actually proclaim with truth that none of this is in the curriculum. Our Beliefs / Collaborative & Inquiry-Based Teaching | AVID . The Alternative would encourage a thorough examination of this entire website for any FH school aged parents and definitely anyone considering additional funding of the schools with the new bond initiative.
"AVID shifts the manner with which teachers facilitate learning without layering on a new curriculum. Teachers have the flexibility to add tools from AVID to augment learning of any subject."
" AVID helps teachers shift from delivering content ........ to closing the opportunity gap". Helping teachers to not deliver content, are they delivering woke indoctrination instead? Doesn't sound like a whole lot of Math, Science, History (real history), reading and writing if real content is not being delivered to this reporter. It also looks like this augmented material may be hidden in websites from parents when they see the actual textbooks. But as we said, this is being discussed as an expenditure for next school year in the middle school, to be used as a feeder program for the high school. Next, the elementary school?
And then a visit to the FHUSD You tube channel proves everything a lie. (675) 26Oct2022 FHUSD Governing Board Work Study Session - YouTube 40:30 on the time code begins the AVID discussion and continues for approximately 15 minutes. The Superintendent is promoting it, board member Wendy Barnhard extolls the virtues of this program in a long-winded exaltation while suggesting it needs to be sold to parents and money appropriated to train teachers in how execute it, board member Jill Reed agrees, and board president Nadya Jenkins would like to see it woven into the entire fabric of the school day to make sure every child gets indoctrinated since some don't want to stay after school for an elective. Meanwhile, in the front row of the audience are the #1 and #2 heads of the teacher's union book ending the union candidate, Lilian Acker with candidate Guerette over the shoulder of #1.
Dr. J (current superintendent), the man who walks on water, and will save our schools, extols his ADL training. Homepage ORG | ADL . What do they train in? Visit the site and you will see that it has nothing to do with the important knowledge necessary to succeed in life like math, english, history, and science. You know, all the subjects that can make one a productive member of American society. Who are they? Better known as the Anti-Defamation League, a far-left wing of the Jewish religion, originally founded to fight antisemitism, an admirable cause, which has now evolved into the depths of WOKE IDEOLOGY.
Unfortunately, in this 2-hour board meeting, this reporter did not hear a single idea of how to turn around declining enrollment in the district. Instead, the time was spent mostly, but not limited to, trying to weave woke ideology into our entire school system expanding it from our high school, and bureaucratic roadblocks to finding out just what is going on, impeding both parents and community members.
To this reporter this meeting has all the entrapments of a liberal, left, confab. And of course, our left-wing mayor and her cronies support this direction of the school which confirms our suspicions. Only two candidates have been bold enough to speak out against the fiscally irresponsible "pay to play" spending practices of the FHUSD and the Woke ideology permeating our once decent school system. They are Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid, and they are enduring attacks from other left leaning candidates and the other liberals in town. The Alternative would never be so presumptuous as to tell our readers how to spend their money when it comes to Bond/Override, after all, it's your money. Only the left will tell you what you should do with YOUR money. We are fiscal and social conservatives, so you know where we stand, and you will never see the FACTS in the other publication. Read on and vote wisely if you haven't voted already.
Something beside the fact that the average age of FH resident is 59 (not exactly baby making machines) is causing the children we have to go elsewhere for their education.
Woke Superintendent, totally woke school board, union leaders, union supported candidates in attendance, fiscally irresponsible and yielding the declining enrollment graph, and not a single solution to turning the enrollment around in 2 hours. Click the picture and listen to the meeting for 2 hours if you don't believe us (if you can stand it for 2 hours)
Fountain Hills is definitely a small town so don't think it cannot happen here. Why are the teacher's union leaders at an FHUSD board work session talking about AVID and other woke items? Could it be they are here to make sure Fountain Hills is taking the left-wing medicine? Click on the picture and read this article if you dare and see what happened to Grants Pass enrollment. Look familiar?
Behind all the back and forth of saving Fountain Hills schools, cutbacks that may eliminate the high school football team, or any other emotional concept the left can drum up to cause taxpayers to let go of their wallets and blindly commit to hundreds of dollars per year in increased property taxes for decades lies a fiscally corrupt, yet completely legal system for spending those millions of taxpayer dollars. And you, the taxpayer, have no idea it goes on. What you are told is that without the money the children will suffer, our schools will decline, without schools, property values will go down, and the town won't attract businesses. You've heard it all. That's the sales pitch. Just give us the money and we can do wonderful things. But they never do, and soon they ask again for more money, and it's the same pitch.
But you already know all that and the Alternative has said you have no idea what goes on to waste all your hard-earned dollars. This is not limited to FH. It goes on everywhere, legally shaking down taxpayers while tugging on the heart strings. But before we get into that, The Alternative would like to set the background for this Bond & Override request that the voter will be voting on November 8th here in Fountain Hills.
First, a little about your hometown and something that the school district has to deal with and it is not any fault of theirs:
Now concerning the schools:
Now to learn what you don't know about where your money, that $20MM bond and million-dollar override, will be going and how it gets there. Fountain Hills, as do many other municipalities, participates in a totally legal but morally and fiscally bankrupt process for awarding construction contracts under what is commonly known as the NO BID PROCESS. Yes, that would be your schools and your town. In the case of the town, it is for lazy town managers. In the case of the schools, lazy people too. No bids, no administrative work. JUST AN AWARD OF THE CONTRACT TO A CONTRACTOR. Wait, no bid? How does the school, in this case, know how much the work will cost? THEY DON'T until the work is completed and then the contractor tacks on their profits under what is known as "construction manager at risk". Of course, there is no risk because whatever it costs is charged and then a guaranteed percentage of the total cost as profit goes to the contractor. NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG UNDER THAT SYSTEM WHLE THEY'RE SPENDING YOUR $20MM IN PROPERTY TAXES, COULD IT? This is why they have to keep coming back for more money. The school gets less for more. Where does the list of contractors come from? From the bucket that companies such as Primary Consultants compile, and it's called the preferred vendor list. Click on the picture of the finance report and the link will take you to the most recent campaign finance report from "YES FOR FH STUDENTS" PAC, with Paul Ulan as the treasurer.
Which brings us to that "SHADOWY FIGURE" connected to Dickey. His name is Paul Ulan, the principal of Primary Consultants and as stated, he is not doing anything illegal. He is working within a system that is allowed to exist. Fountain Hills is not the only PAC he is treasurer of.
YES FOR CARTWRIGHT SCHOOLSP AUL ULAN
YES FOR FH STUDENTS PAUL ULAN
YES FOR HIGLEY SCHOOLS PAUL ULAN
YES FOR ISAAC SCHOOLS PAUL ULAN
YES FOR MURPHY PAUL ULAN
YES FOR OUR STUDENTS PAUL ULAN
YES FOR PENDERGAST SCHOOLS PAUL ULAN
YES FOR RIVERSIDEPAUL ULAN
YES FOR TOLLESON SCHOOLS PAUL ULAN
YES, YES, YES FOR OUR SCHOOLS PAUL ULAN
This is just a sample from 2022. This link will provide you access to all the 2022 PAC activity and you will see all of Paul Ulan's PACS listed above with his name in the treasurer column near the bottom of the list. Campaign Finance Search (maricopa.gov) You can click any of these and see that the campaign contributors consist of contractors with some appearing on multiple PAC'S as contributors. McCarthy Holdings, Inc. of St Louis, MO is just one example. They are a very large nationwide General Contractor. The FH PAC was organized in 2017. Note the identical campaign ID # 1001886 on the 2022 report. 2017_39417.pdf (maricopa.gov) Paul finds a chairperson for each of these PAC's. Tana Boersma is the Chair of YES FOR FH STUDENTS.
So, in summary, Paul Ulan and other companies just like his, solicit PAC contributions from the construction industry and put them in a big bucket. Then sprinkle them around in districts with Bond and Overrides on the ballot using the usual guilting tactics (for the children) to promote a YES vote and then the contractors get the NO BID AWARDS BECASUE THEY ARE ON THE PREFERRED VENDORS LIST. ALL LEGAL.
So, what of our wonderful Mayor Dickey? As stated earlier, she was on the school board for 8 years and certainly knows of the legal but certainly unethical process. Prove it you say. So be it. Mayor Dickey hired Primary Consultants, Paul Ulan, in her 2022 Mayoral campaign and paid him $27,291.14. Notice her PAC was formed in the same year as the YES FOR FOUNTAIN HILLS STUDENTS PAC. Examine this link: CC2017-01---Dickey---2022-Post-Primary-Election-Report (fountainhillsaz.gov) . Did Mayor Dickey sell out the residents and anyone paying property taxes in Fountain Hills with her support of this initiative?
It cannot be stressed enough; this is all legal. Paul Ulan and Primary Consultants along with many others doing the same things have done nothing wrong. This is a broken system. This is the construction industry fleecing taxpayers on an ongoing basis using schools as the medium (for the children). How can the system be fixed? Only one recourse, vote down the bond and overrides. The school may, however, suffer the consequences. Maybe they will change their ways, create a viable business plan and award contracts in a different manner. Also never vote again for any individual willing to sell out their constituents (taxpayers) for a special interest.
Last word. Watch this video. It has no audio but explains this process well for those of you who like to watch TV. This is Gilbert and the numbers are much larger than Fountain Hills but that's a small consolation here in the Hills. (656) Collette Evans ties to GPS Gilbert Public Schools Corruption - YouTube
The Alternative hopes you vote wisely because it's your money, your taxes.
The ink wasn't dry on the School Board meeting transcript voting to spend $40K on a bond special election, when the pro school bond brigade began the disinformation campaign. The venerable Jon Davies has a post out there on the recall Allen Skillicorn twitter which may tell the readers about how reliable his information is. But no worries, the Alternative will lay it out in simple math terms that are undeniable so the next misinformation article or post you see will stand out for what it is, an attempt to make the bond appear cheaper than it actually is, while attacking logical math proponents as hating children.
Let's get started dissecting Mr. Davies information line by line.
If the school can borrow money at 10%, that may be in question, and may be higher, as one can see from the chart on the right, with interest, the cost of borrowing $25MM over a 15 year amortization is $48,357,230.30. Closer to $50MM than $25MM. That means for 15 years, the FH taxpayers will be taxed to pay back the $48MM+ cost of the bond. Forget the $66MM, this reporter has never seen that number posted anywhere but with Mr. Davies.
Once again Davies leaves off part of the cost by leaving out part of the equation, and without knowing what the interest rate is, one cannot even attach the figure of $10. But if there is a real simple equation, and we'll use Mr. Davies $10. $10/month/$100,000 of home valuation from the Maricopa County Assessor, but there is no simple equation.
Information coming directly from the Maricopa County Assessor and the Maricopa County Treasurer will tell you all you need to know to make an informed decision but according to the assessor, accurate information will not be available for 2023 until August when they have settled the tax rate. Further, this school bond tax rate will not be on the 2023 taxes, it will hit in 2024. This means you would not know the county tax rate until August of 2024.
There are more variables. If the bond voting was YES in November, then what would the interest rate on the bond be at that time? Currently it is north of 10%. What will it be at the end of 2023? After all, the $25MM + interest over 15 years will be paid back by the FH residents and businesses through their yearly property tax bills.
Here is what you can know about the cost to property owners in FH. Take a look at the property tax bill from 2022. There is a line for the 2013 bond tax.
Just for fun, plug in some numbers, rounded and approximate. LPV (limited primary value) equals $750K. The total tax bill of $4K. You'll see three lines of tax for FHUSD.
1440/4000=.36 36% of a FH residential property owner taxes already go toward the school . All the rest of the lines at the top of the tax bill are education related and when those are added in, almost 50% of the tax bill is for education. This is not a knock on education, just a fact.
And there is always this from the bond salesmen:
"The information in this analysis is not intended to be used as the primary basis for determining an issuer's bonding capacity, tax rate or ability to sell bonds. This analysis is based on assumptions provided by sources considered to be reliable, including the issuer, but is not guaranteed as to accuracy and does not purport to be complete. Any information expressed in this analysis is subject to change."
In other words, no guarantees as to cost to taxpayer because the interest rate on the bond may change based on the creditworthiness.
The questions that were asked of the school system last August have yet to be resolved:
And now let the sales pitches begin, pro or con. Speaking of con, don't be conned. It's just math, no feelings, unlike the new math curriculum in FHUSD that asks the question, "how do the numbers make you feel?"
Having watched with interest the replay of the school board meeting, some interesting facts were garnered about that meeting. The first hour and 20 minutes or so is reminiscent of the Emmy’s or Oscar awards shows. Dr. J was showered with an orchestrated parade of teachers and district employees who spoke about what a nice guy he was and what a great job he’s done. A lifetime achievement award, so to speak, for his work in the industry. Keeping in mind that this confined group, which clearly has a CONFLICT of interest because he does the contracts, hires and fires them ALL, gave the appearance of a little closed inner circle lavishing praise, but how many were from outside this little community? The answer is none, ZERO! That speaks volumes because Dr. J has stated many times that he has rebuilt trust within the community. The same community that he wants $25MM from. This show says not so fast.
What effective outreach has been done with parents of children going over the hill or with parents home schooling their children? Was any of that discussed or any mention regarding the results of those efforts even a topic during this meeting? I kept waiting for some reasons why this enrollment drain is happening from some real community members with children but it never came. Sitting in a coffee shop expecting parents to join you there is not outreach, circa "Coffee with Cain".
These among other crucial topics were not even discussed. How many appointments have been made with these disaffected parents if any? This is what rebuilding trust is all about, be honest, be accountable, and be transparent. But these answers are all from outside the conflicted group of admirers. And since we’ve had no reports of any progress there hasn’t been anything done with “real outreach” Why would be the question? The school system needs help but it would appear that none is being sought outside the closed inner circle.
Now for an assessment of this board. First if you look closely at the recording, Dana Saar, school board member, is sleeping thru most of this meeting. Can we really blame him though having to listen to an hour and 20 minutes of fawning over Dr. J before getting to any real substantive material? Why is this allowed to happen? Perhaps he should immediately resign, or at the least not be allowed to vote on ANY issue if he doesn’t have the respect and energy for the job.
Newly elected board member, Lillian Acker, complained that some board members request voluminous amounts of information, referring to financial material, to understand how to manage the school system better. She was obviously referring to board members Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid. These two have taken much heat from the status quo inner circle since their terms began for wanting to take on the job of managing a declining school system and turning it around. Acker read a prepared statement directed at Settle and Reid which outlined the premise that it is NOT the school board's responsibility to monitor the districts finances in which she says, "I have other things to do rather than sit there and look at every little nitty gritty thing." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2TBdAZQ0Hg @ 2:35:27. I don’t have the time to read all this material. Why would you say that? The community voted her onto the board and now it appears she doesn’t want to do the job. Rather than being critical of others asking for information that was being withheld by your superintendent and his finance team, shouldn't Acker, as a representative on this board should be asking the same questions? After all, the district being managed by these people, will be asking the taxpayers for $25MM in a special election costing $41, 712.30. The board should not be rubber stamping anything, willing to do the work, and ask the hard questions. Watch the whole meeting at the link above if you have 4.5 hours to spare in your life to confirm everything said here in this account.
After a 14% point defeat of the bond in August of 2022, it would appear that little has changed over the last year. Yes, some football turf and a coat of paint has been applied, but the basic problems still exist, and little has been done by this board and superintendent to address them.
Three to Two, Three to Two, that's the way the vote on the Fountain Hills Unified School District (FHUSD) Board goes on just about every issue. Three are a given YES on anything the Superintendent wants. Let's just name them, Dana Saar, and Jill Reed whose terms are up in 2024 and Lillian Acker who was elected in 2022 to a four year term are always with the establishment. The other new members Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are there for four years who from their minority position boldly challenge the status quo.
Libby Settle and Madicyn Reid are mothers who do not have children currently in the school system, but could if things were to change for the better. They have been condemned by Acker....saying Libby and Madicyn are "asking too many questions". The flat truth is the two women were elected by the voters to do just that, to examine, ask questions, and voice opposition to the polices and practices of the previous School Board, and find out what really is going on in the taxpayer funded schools. Acker does not have children in the school system, never has, and never will, who was previously an administrator and teacher, and a strong supporter of the way things are going in FHUSD.
The new Superintendent Dr. J, rounded up his acolytes Tuesday, May 9 and had a four hour session of "how great Dr. J is" When the hoorahs settled down, the Board approved moving ahead with a $25 million dollar Bond for 15 years! The vote was 3 Yes and 2 No. The other new board member has been heard on Social Media as saying "it's not the function of a school board to examine every expense". WHAT! It sure as Heck is. Libby is an accountant and that is exactly what voters expected to see her do. These two women were not elected to just rubber stamp whatever the Superintendent wants. That was proven to be true when Dr. J became Superintendent, he was hired to clean up mess in the schools, and immediately pushed for the Bond in 2022. Voters took a look at the thin rational given for the Bond and soundly rejected it by 14 points. But "he's back"! The head of the District, still has no Plan, but listens to his cheering supporters and takes that for approval to hit up the tax payers for the next 15 years. This as the school's only stated Plan to improve enrollment numbers is to pour money into a Day Care that has 50 little people, who Dr. J says will fill up the school when they enter Kindergarten. That is not a Plan for going forward. it is a Hope and a Prayer.
Frankly the Bond is just a blank check for the District to spend as they please. What Libby and Madicyn have been doing in their questioning and examination of expenditures is uncovering and making it known where there is waste. Just recently one of the renters being booted out of the Four Peaks School stated a window in his rental area needed to be replaced. He had someone come over and give an estimate to replace the window, it was $100. Under the contract with the District his landlord, the window had to be replaced by the District's Preferred Vendor. The total cost to replace the window....$900. How many more examples of waste in the District are yet to be uncovered. In case the readers are unaware, there is a Preferred Vendor Scheme that has been utilized for years by many school Districts. In exchange for being a Preferred Vendor, they make contributions to PAC's that support the very bonds like that being sought by FHUSD. Stay tuned for that as this campaign heats up.
The Bond election is slated to be in November. It will cost the District $41, 712.30 to have this Special Election, nothing else will be on the ballot at the moment. But heck, the end justifies the means, and you have to spend some to get some is Dr. J's position. Meanwhile when graduation day hits and the Seniors are gone, will there be 125 little kindergarteners coming in the front door? If not, then the enrollment numbers will sink again as parents choose other education options including many home schooling their children where they have confidence in what is being taught.
I had the opportunity to attend the Falcons of Fountain Hills playoff basketball game against Payson Saturday night. While not from this area a friend told me that they were undefeated and had a pretty good team. Pretty good? 25-0, unbeaten to begin the run to a 3A State Championship.
Well he was right, they are a good team after witnessing a complete beatdown of Payson HS, 53-36, and number 3 to me (I don’t know his name) was the unsung star. His poise was remarkable and his leadership was outstanding, unlike some of the adults in the gym this evening. During the game I was just sitting there thinking, boy, they make a lot of noise on the Payson side but our students were just not doing anything to cheer on their undefeated team. I found that odd, and then I found out why. Nearby my seat, close enough for me to hear, a woman came up and spoke to a husband and wife and said that a woman and the principal were down in the student section admonishing the students and pointing fingers at them telling them NOT to cheer on their team! I turned to the women next to me and said what’s that all about? She said she would find out who is behind this. She talked to a parent of a player who then questioned the principal, Chris Hartman, who told her she shouldn’t be pointing her finger at him. He apparently didn’t like her questioning his authority. She stated to him, you can’t talk to me that way because I pay your salary. This is an infringement of First Amendment rights. The woman who was observed pointing out students as well, I found out later, was Jessica Kane, Assistant Superintendant.
What is the problem with our students cheering on their team and then coming under threats from administrators? Is this some sort of woke culture being instituted in the Fountain Hills High School? Don't rub it in when its a beat down, you might hurt the opponents feelings? No heckling the free throw shooters, refs, opposing players? When did this become sporting event ethic? I am an outsider but my friend who invited me did explain that this issue was a hot topic this past election as the enrollment has been declining and parents were sending their kids over the hill to Scottsdale, meanwhile FH residents voted down the $20MM the school was asking for in a Bond /Override.
One thing I know for sure is that sports are the opposite of woke. Sports are a meritocracy. Best man, best woman, best team, wins. One winner, one loser. No equity and inclusion. Diversity occurs naturally via talent. More importantly, is this how we treat parents who question administrator's poor judgment? This is clearly a First Amendment violation and these administrators need to formally apologize for their bad behavior/judgement to both the students and parents who were offended if they ever hope to get their enrollment back up.
I capped off the evening with a visit to the men’s restroom and was shocked to see such a simple repair left in a dilapidated condition. I reported this to my friends upon returning to my seat and they jokingly told me not to worry, the superintendent and board were spending $250K on 4 new toilets over at the closed elementary school which houses one pre-K class. His wife said the women's restroom was not much better. They said there was a very outspoken democratic minority led by the mayor in town blaming a PAC for directing the residents to examine wasteful spending in both the school and the town government before committing money the school and to return a conservative majority to the town council. I was told they use the usual divisive democrat playbook demonizing everyone who opposes them while accusing the conservatives of the very thing that they do themselves. No different than what is happening on a state and national level. Sad for such a nice exclusive community.
It is very striking when the true mature leader is on the court and not in the classroom or the community. This is an embarrassing period in our nations history and one might wonder if we can survive another 20 years let alone 200. Maybe we can take some solace in leaders like #3 on the Falcon basketball team if they can overcome the woke idiots that are everywhere now amongst us.