Beckman: a path forward for SUSD must rely on transparency, accountability and trust

We have been inundated with daily reports of corruption and collusion in Scottsdale Unified School District.

Patty Beckman

Where do we go from here? Whom do we trust? How can we as parents and taxpayers speak proudly about our district again?

Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.”

Our current board members would like you to believe that now, after all that has been revealed, they have the way forward. Forgive me for being skeptical but after decades of paying taxes in Scottsdale, having children who are currently in SUSD schools, and actually listening to our teachers, I am done trusting a board that so willingly hired people who lacked financial ethics and integrity. I am done supporting a board that chose to close it eyes and ears to our community.

The time has come for change. If this current board will not do what is in the best interest of students, teachers and taxpayers, I will.

We cannot provide the best education without the best teachers. We have a national teacher crisis and Scottsdale is not immune. My family chose this district for its teachers and, currently, these valuable assets are being driven away. This year has been one of poor communication, disrespect, and instability. It is time to listen to our teachers again, give them the tools they need, and let them pave the way for our children’s academic success.

With over 20 years of experience in finance, a degree in finance, and currently CFO of a private manufacturing company, never in my life have I seen such a lack in fiduciary responsibility as I have this year is SUSD.

Taxpayer money should be held to the absolute highest ethical standard. I have been extremely vocal that no conflicts of interest should exist; we need financial transparency. Our community should feel that their money is being handled appropriately when they say, “YES” to a bond issuance, override, or even when they pay their property taxes.

All construction awarded by questionable procurement practices needs to stop. Period. If necessary, we need to re-bid the contracts. We cannot keep throwing good money after bad. A proper masterplan needs to be developed. We should know which schools are going to be rebuilt or remodeled and have an estimate of how much each will cost before we proceed.

It is possible to stay within budget; $229M is a considerable amount of money, and it should spent prudently. We need a better process for community involvement with the rebuilds. This will not happen again for decades, and the larger community and the neighborhoods they reside in want their schools built right!

Over the last year, I have developed an SUSD tax rate analysis, and I have looked deeply into our district’s budget. There is much room for improvement. The wasteful and excessive administrative spending needs to be re-evaluated. We need to hire qualified experienced individuals so that many of these positions can be consolidated, and more money put in the classroom for our teachers and children.

Our peers spent an average of 56 percent in the classroom, SUSD only spent 53 percent and that is not acceptable. A talented CFO should be expected to evaluate every single large non-classroom expense and be tasked with reducing it.

We need to demand a national search for the best superintendent candidates. It is possible to have leadership that is talented, can focus on our students’ academic growth and, at the same time, demonstrate ethics and integrity. We absolutely do not have to settle.

I believe in public education. I believe in Scottsdale Unified. I have spent much of the last decade supporting our schools every way a parent can support them: volunteering, donating, acting as homeroom mom, knocking on doors to pass the overrides, and currently serving as
PTO Co-President. I also believe we are capable of excellence and, right now from a leadership perspective, we are far from it. Our students, teachers and tax payers deserve better. Its time

we give it to them.

Editor’s note: Ms. Beckman is a Scottsdale Schools parent and a candidate for the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board

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