Patty Beckman, a Town of Paradise Valley resident and Scottsdale Unified School District parent, has announced her intent to run for the local school board.
Via a Monday, Jan. 15 Facebook post, Ms. Beckman stated her intentions to run for a seat on the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board next November.
“I am running because I don’t like the direction of our district,” Ms. Beckman said in a Jan. 17 phone interview. “If anyone is found to have engaged in unethical practices or to have spent taxpayer money without integrity — I would ask them to resign. This includes the cabinet and Dr. Birdwell.”
Ms. Beckman says her biggest concern is the children, and listed finance, special education and interest in the south Scottsdale schools as her areas of interest.
“If this environment continues and people are concerned about our finances… I’m concerned if our override will pass, or if it doesn’t pass it hurts our kids,” she said.
Scottsdale Unified School District is expected to ask for an override in November’s election. In November 2014 the district passed a maintenance and operations override — supporting areas such as teacher salaries, benefits, supplies and general operations.
It’s common practice for school districts to ask voters for a renewal in year four or five of an override to maintain a consistent level of funding. If not renewed, the amount begins deceasing in year six.
“I do support the override,” Ms. Beckman explained. “We need that money, we absolutely need that money.”
Ms. Beckman comes from a finance background, and put herself through Arizona State University, she said. She now is a CFO for a small manufacturing company.
“Taxpayer money should be held to the highest ethical standards,” she noted. “It’s not a secret — people have talked about our administration costs, I’ve looked at our tax rate. There are areas in our budget that we can cut things down and support teachers more.”
The mom of two says she believes the Governing Board and district needs to examine its expense and costs in areas such as administration and transportation.
She is also interested in learning more about special education to provide the best services needed, she noted.
“This district needs to come back together again, and be a district that attracts and retains qualified and talented people,” she explained. “It’s a difficult environment. I’m hoping we can move past that, I’m hoping that becomes something we’re not talking about all the time.”
Ms. Beckman said she was excited when the district started focusing on the southern Scottsdale schools in spring of 2016. During that time, two schools were consolidated to create Tonalea K-8 and the Coronado Success Initiative came the following year.
“I really do like the focus on south Scottsdale, there were some strides we were taking in those areas,” she said. “It’s disheartening to me that what we’re seeing all over the news and media. It’s distracting as it relates to helping our kids.”
The issues at-hand include an Arizona Attorney General’s investigation into district procurement practices, the hiring of a convicted theft who misrepresented himself as an architect and whose firm is accused of over-charging the district, and the potential conflict of interesting between SUSD Chief Financial Officer Laura Smith and her company, PCPG.
Ms. Beckman said she understands the need to focus on the arisen problems, describing the recent months as important.
“We side stepped, and it was important, but that is something I’m saddened about. That was exciting, what has taken center stage is the ethical concerns,” she said.
Ms. Beckman is a strong supporter the district, she says, having sent her two daughters to SUSD schools for their educations. Her mother attended Hohokam Elementary, as well.
“I can’t sit on the side anymore, I’m not going to accept mediocrity any longer,” Ms. Beckman said.