CCUSD board clerk publicly chastises board member 'for the record'

By Linda Bentley | April 21, 2010

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It’s not about all-day kindergarten – it’s about free all-day kindergarten
david schaeferCCUSD – During the April 13 Cave Creek Unified School District Governing Board meeting, Clerk David Schaefer read a prepared statement into the record to publicly castigate board member Susan Clancy for asking questions and/or making suggestions during board meetings with which he does not agree. 

Schaefer spoke about Clancy as if she weren’t sitting at the dais, making belittling comments such as: “if she has as much experience as she keeps reminding us she has …”

Schaefer praised the administration while chastising Clancy and stated, “Micro-management should never be confused with thinking outside the box.”

Clancy, who sat silently as he read his statements, said afterward this was the second time Schaefer had done that to her.

susan clancySuperintendent Debbi Burdick announced how happy the district was that Cactus Shadows High School Head Coach Chad DeGrenier, despite reports of him leaving the district, “never did resign” and that he and his wife Nicole “will be staying in our CCUSD family.”

Sonoran News sports reporter Pete Mohr announced DeGrenier’s resignation in February and on March 3 he quoted CSHS Principal Steve Bebee saying, “Obviously, last season will be my only opportunity to have worked with Chad … Cactus shadows football is going to miss him. We wish him well.”

DeGrenier told Mohr his family would be relocating to Fort Collins, Colo. stating, “Everything we love is here in Arizona, but I couldn’t decline this opportunity …”

So, what Burdick made sound like erroneous reporting was confirmed by Bebee as fact.

Call to the Public brought a barrage of teachers and parents to the microphone to encourage the board to keep all-day kindergarten.

Actually, it wasn’t so much about keeping all-day kindergarten; it was a matter of keeping free all-day kindergarten.

Prior to former Governor Janet Napolitano authorizing funding for all-day kindergarten statewide, CCUSD offered all-day kindergarten programs. However, parents had to pay for the second half if they chose to send their children to all-day kindergarten, just as they do now for pre-kindergarten.

Cathy Malina, a Desert Willow kindergarten teacher, said she was hoping the board would keep all-day kindergarten and noted a neighboring district was advertising at the movie theater that it was offering free all-day kindergarten.

A man who said he was a parent and realtor stated a “huge amount of people have targeted areas to live outside our area because of all-day kindergarten.”

Another man who touted himself as a “Republican business owner” said he grew up in California and has complete faith in the Cave Creek school system and its fiscal policies.
Board President Casey Perkins read a letter into the record from a parent “in favor of keeping all-day kindergarten.”

Wanda Latin, a former kindergarten teacher, who said she taught kindergarten for 10 years, said all-day kindergarten was necessary for children to be prepared for first grade.

Latin was on the verge of tears as she spoke about her special needs kindergartener.

Burdick let the audience know that the board has not decided to cancel all-day kindergarten.
Mark Rambo said it was his understanding surrounding districts have already decided to continue all-day kindergarten.

He stated it wasn’t a one-year issue but a 13-year issue, because once they leave the district, they probably won’t come back.

Another man, who said his wife volunteers at the school, stated he was in favor of all-day kindergarten. He said students learn three to four times more in all-day kindergarten than half-day and his daughter wouldn’t have met that milestone of learning how to read without all-day kindergarten.

Dick Dubeck called all-day kindergarten the “lifeblood” of the school system. He said it was the lifeblood for growth, without which the district would lose growth and base population.
Dubeck said, “It’s not just about money. Let’s not lose sight of the big picture. We can’t afford to fall further back from the rest of the world. We can’t afford to sell our children short.”

Kimberly Bianco, who said she now teaches pre-school, stated, “We believe in all-day kindergarten.”

Another parent said, “I don’t think anyone disagrees full-day kindergarten is important.”
He said, “Parents are talking about taking their children out of the district,” and called it “shortsighted” to discontinue all-day kindergarten and have parents move out of the district, because the district would lose its voter base to pass bonds.

Parents touted free all-day kindergarten as all but a necessity for children to compete in the global economy.

Steve Brown said people were getting laid off all over the world and encouraged the district to evaluate what employees do, not how long they’ve been there. He stated, “State statute gives us that flexibility.”

However, Burdick stated the law was being challenged in court by the Arizona Education Association and the district’s lawyer told them to abide by the contracts that were signed.
After a short break, the board reconvened to begin the second public hearing on the closure of Desert Arroyo Middle School. The first hearing was held on March 9.

Burdick said no action would be taken by the board until May 18.

Associate Superintendent Kent Frison presented the budget based on both passage of the one cent sales tax and without.

He said because the override was not successful, the budget would have to be decreased by $300,000.

Frison said enrollment will be down by about 70 students next years, which will mean approximately $400,000 less in formula funding from the state.

Additionally, when the Arizona School Facilities Board (SFB) held its monthly meeting on April 7, it voted to downsize the district’s previously approved project for 640 high school students to 285 students due to lower population projections, and decreased its previously approved budget for CCUSD from $12.25 million to $5.45 million.

Frison said the district will work with its demographer to develop data to support a request for reconsideration.

Burdick stated the board reaffirmed its commitment to small class sizes at retreats earlier this year. However, she pointed out seven of the district’s last nine elections failed.
She said moving Smartboards was an issue because it had to be done professionally and would cost $27,600 to move 23 Smartboards.

The presentation included a cost savings comparison for the closure of Desert Arroyo Middle School, Desert Sun Elementary School or Black Mountain Elementary, which the district indicated would be $634,311, $509,698 and $540,225, respectively.

Citing the decision to close DAMS was not due to performance, Burdick said, “It’s an excelling school with a fabulous record.”

During public comment, Julia Scotto spoke about how successful her children are as a result of attending CCUSD, and said, “These administrators, teachers and staff know what they’re doing. Please trust them.”

Lisa Stukel, former president of the DAMS PTO, said Perkins should recuse herself from voting on the closure of DAMS since she had already indicated in the Scottsdale Republic how she planned to vote prior to the public hearing, supposedly being held to obtain public input.