Scottsdale school board hopefuls offer candid response to pointed questions

The three people running for Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board are, from left, official candidates Patty Beckman and Jann-Michael Greenburg. On right is write-in candidate, Christine Schild. (file photos)

Scottsdale Unified School District voters will elect two people to the local Governing Board Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Patty Beckman and Jann-Michael Greenburg are the official candidates in pursuit of school board seats meanwhile former SUSD Governing Board member Christine Schild has announced her candidacy as a write-in candidate.

Ms. Beckman, a mother of twin girls at Mohave Middle School, has lived in the Town of Paradise Valley since 2002. She has a background in finance with a degree from Arizona State University.

Mr. Greenburg is a 2012 Arcadia High School graduate. Following graduation he went to law school at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with a first class honors degree in law in 2016.

Ms. Schild, a Scottsdale resident since 1993 practiced law until retiring and changing to inactive status in 2014. She was elected to the Scottsdale school board in 2002, and served from 2003-07.

The Independent offers it’s fifth installment in a question-and-answer series seeking to better understand how these candidates interpret the local education issues that matter.

This week’s final installment of questions focuses on specific topics for each candidate. This is what they had to say:

Patty Beckman

• Coming from a community — the Town of Paradise Valley — where affluence is by and large a commonality why do you care about a school board position?

My family has lived in the Scottsdale area since the 1950s. During this time, my mother attended Hohokam Elementary School. I developed a love for this city and have always admired the excellence of Scottsdale Unified School District. Because of SUSD’s outstanding academic reputation, it was important to me to live in a neighborhood where my children would be able to attend Scottsdale schools.

Paradise Valley became my home nearly 20 years ago. Although it is true that Paradise Valley has an affluent population, many of its residents, myself included, support and care greatly for public education.

Patty Backman

I was raised in a lower middle-class household with young working parents. I was educated in public schools where I learned the great value of diversity. It was the time I spent in those public schools that provided me with my first glimpse of the “real world” — where individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds, religious belief systems and cultures could work together to accomplish wonderful things.

I have carried the influence and benefit of my education experience into my professional life as the CFO of a local manufacturing company.
My children have thrived in SUSD for almost a decade. They too are receiving a highly academic, well-rounded and diverse education. They currently attend Mohave Middle School, a Title 1 School, which is defined as a school with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. We couldn’t be happier with our experience at Mohave. However, watching the struggles of our beloved school district and subsequent investigation by the Arizona Attorney General, I felt called to action.

Scottsdale Unified is a district of excellence. We need to provide a world class education for our children, retain and recruit the best talent for our classrooms, and manage our taxpayer funded budget with the highest of ethics. I believe in the value of public schools. I believe in the excellence of SUSD. I have the financial skillset for the demands of the job, and I have great relationships with many teachers and children in our schools. I intend on making a better Scottsdale Unified School District.

• How will your platform differ from those who came before hailing from the same subset of the Scottsdale Schools community?

My predecessors who had children graduate from SUSD schools were fortunate to have them do so at a time before the onslaught of school choice and other factors that impacted student funding. It was a time when SUSD schools were hailed at the top of the list in excellence, prestige and had the reputation as a destination district.

If elected, I will be the only board with children attending schools in SUSD. I will provide a balance to the current and previous board members who don’t have the day to day interaction with students, teachers and staff at ground level. I will realize the immediate impact and feedback of decisions made while I serve.

I choose to shine the spotlight on the amazing under-marketed programs we have in SUSD, such as the Saguaro Math and Science Academy, the music programs, our award-winning athletics, our nationally recognized robotics, the list goes on. So how do I differ from my predecessors? I believe in SUSD and the possibilities it offers our students for an excellent academic and social experience, full of choices for every student.

Christine Schild

• In recent weeks information has surfaced surrounding your past actions. While this behavior is nearly a decade old, how can Scottsdale residents be assured this isn’t normal behavior?

I was heartbroken when my 28-year marriage ended abruptly. It was an extremely difficult time. I was working in a solo law practice, had a recent cancer diagnosis, and was dealing with a family crisis. One day the stress got to me and I vented to a third party. Although I never actually threatened anyone, it was easier to accept responsibility and move on. I joined a church, completed a master’s degree in Christian Studies with a focus on urban ministry, and began working with underprivileged children. Spending time in service to God lifted my spirits. I found a new purpose that brings joy to my life.

• Should Scottsdale residents be concerned about emotional behavior of their elected officials?

Christine Schild

It saddens me that our political climate has devolved to the point where anyone believes one incident that occurred during an individual’s divorce eight years ago is relevant to a person’s fitness for office. People should be judged on the totality of their actions.

I have been a community volunteer in Scottsdale for over 20 years. I’ve worked in my children’s schools, served on the Neighborhood Enhancement Commission, welcomed tourists as a Downtown Ambassador, and helped neighbors resolve their problems as a city mediator.

I was elected to the Governing Board during one of the most tumultuous times in Scottsdale Unified School District history. The district lost its maintenance and operations override and was forced to cut millions of dollars from its budget. The superintendent was unpopular and the community wanted change. I worked to restore the community’s trust by ensuring the high school bond money was spent appropriately, teachers received the raises they deserved, and employees, parents, and students were treated with respect.

The Scottsdale Unified School District is once again in chaos. I stepped out of retirement to offer the benefit of my knowledge and expertise. I know how the board works, understand the district’s finances, and am the only candidate that can hit the ground running.
My sole purpose in running for school board is to improve the quality of our neighborhood public schools. I have faith Scottsdale’s voters will make their choice based on fact instead of gossip.

Jann-Michael Greenburg

•As this election has matured, voters have taken issue with actions completed by your father, whom you also work for and reportedly live with. Are you merely a puppet for Mark Greenburg?

My father is a concerned citizen that I love very much, but my father is not on the ballot.

•How can you assure Scottsdale residents that you’re the right choice for school board? 

Jann-Michael Greenburg

I am very passionate about public education and Scottsdale Unified School District. My younger brother and I both graduated from SUSD and I am intimately aware of just how great our teachers and classes are at the District.

With that said, the past 2.5 years have been disastrous for the District and the students and taxpayers it serves. The current members of our Governing Board have wasted millions in taxpayer dollars, supported and paid off a corrupt administration, and ignored (and threatened to sue) students, teachers, and taxpayers for their complaints and allegations about wrongdoing. I tirelessly investigated these allegations, reviewed over 10,000 school district documents, and wrote three reports containing 1,000 pages of evidence which substantiated these allegations and the community’s concerns.

Since the beginning of my campaign in April, I have been the only candidate to provide concrete proposals as to how to tackle these issues and place SUSD back on the right path moving forward. I have argued for the creation of an internal auditing department, an SUSD Office of the Inspector General, routine ethics and compliance checks and continuing education, the reintroduction of a direct relationship between the SEA and the Governing Board, the hiring of a crisis and work management team, providing greater vocational education opportunities to students, creating summer internship programs with Arizona businesses, and so much more.

All of these ideas can be found on my website, www.jmg4susd.com, as well as in articles I have written for the Scottsdale Independent and on posts on my campaign Facebook page, www.facebook.com/jmg4susd.

Actions speak louder than words, and I believe my actions demonstrate my clear readiness to help our students, teachers, and taxpayers every single day.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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