VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 22   |   JUNE 1 – 7, 2011


CCUSD is all about spin and money

‘In Arizona, taxpayers have standing to challenge illegal government expenditures’

CCUSD – At 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24, Cave Creek Unified School District parents received an e-mail from CaveCreek@ccusd93.org with the subject line: “CCUSD-Press Release-GWI – A message from: Linda Shaner.”

Shaner is the district’s executive assistant to the superintendent and governing board.

The e-mail stated: “Click here to see a press release for the Cave Creek Unified School District regarding the Goldwater Institute lawsuit,” imbedding a hyperlink in the word “here.”

The link opened a document titled “Press Release” and was headlined, in all caps, “Goldwater Institute files motion to add plaintiff due to ineligibility of original plaintiff in lawsuit against the Cave Creek Unified School District.”

The press release, although not e-mailed until May 24, was dated May 19, contained no contact information, and only claimed to be a “Cave Creek Unified School District Press Release.”

It opened with, “The Goldwater Institute filed a motion on May 19th (sic) in Arizona Superior Court (sic) to add a plaintiff in their lawsuit against the Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) after the District showed that the original plaintiff, Ms. Jayne Friedman, had not lived in the District at the time of the 2000 bond election and had not voted in that election.”

The district was simply attempting to dispose of the lawsuit by asserting Friedman didn’t have standing. Goldwater Institute Attorney Christina Kohn stated, “Jayne [Friedman] is perfectly eligible as a plaintiff.”

She said, “In Arizona, taxpayers have standing to challenge illegal government expenditures. It does not matter that Friedman did not live in the district at the time of the vote.”

Kohn said, “We filed our motion to move things along because the district raised these issues and, rather than making the case about standing, we decided to move things along by adding another plaintiff so we could get to the real legal issues.”

Shaner’s press release concluded by saying, “Due to the dire economic conditions in Arizona, the Legislature has not been able to provide building renewal funds to state school districts for the past three years. CCUSD had planned to use the bond dollars for postponed roof replacements, air conditioning system replacement and renovation, as well as other critical capital projects that have been on hold since the state suspended building renewal dollars. The completion of these planned capital projects would have ensured that a healthy, safe and secure learning environment would be maintained for students in the district schools.”

For the 2009-2010 school year, the supposedly cash-strapped district had revenues that exceeded expenditures by a net of $4.3 million.

Revenue surpluses in the M&O (maintenance and operations) account totaled approximately $2.4 million, while surpluses in unrestricted capital outlays and soft capital allocation totaled about $1.9 million.

In fact, CCUSD has had revenue surpluses in two of the past four years.

The current M&O override was approved by voters in 2006. Overrides are good for seven years, with one-third reductions in funding in each of the last two years.

However, the district is campaigning to replace the current 10 percent override with a 15 percent override.

And while the district professes poverty has prevented it from completing “critical capital projects,” taxpayers may want to note Superintendent Debbie Burdick authorized the expenditure of $18,000 to engage Primary Consultants, LLC to conduct a push poll to try to garner support for the override election.

District policy does not require board approval for expenditures less than $30,000.

And, the district spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $48,000 to install electronic marquees at three of its schools so it can have “optimal communication with parents and the public.”

Since the electronic marquees also cost less than $30,000 each, the district did not require board approval for those purchases either.

Currently the district has a website where it posts school-specific and district-wide information, while it sends out press releases and parent notifications via e-mail.

Although the district also has a Facebook page and can be followed on Twitter, both appear to have small audiences.

The public generally will never see any of the marquees, unless they have some reason to be on the school campus.

And, when they do, they may see critical communications such as, “Happy birthday, Joey!” or learn that board President David Schaeffer is visiting the school.

Sonoran News will continue to uncover the truth until the district comes clean. 

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