Washington: Scottsdale Schools has got some explaining to do

Scottsdale Unified School District Superintendent David Peterson and the majority of the elected SUSD governing board members — Bonnie Sneed, George Jackson, and recently-elected member Kim Hartmann — have some explaining to do, in light of a report from the Arizona Auditor General released last week.

John Washington

John Washington

Statements like “… instructional expenditures were falsely increased by over $5 million,” and “… the District has not accurately reported its costs for many years,” are concerning.

The statement, “… in fiscal year 2014, the District began misreporting its costs for property liability insurance as instructional spending rather than plant operations spending,” puts it right in Peterson’s wheelhouse.

There have been many complaints about Peterson’s performance since he was hired. In my humble opinion, declining enrollment is the most critical. This drives a number of the other factors; and is, in turn, driven by a perception (right or wrong) in the community that SUSD is not the best education option for the children of the district.

It’s a downward spiral that will require real leadership to arrest … and dabbling in real estate deals or neighborhood revitalization isn’t going to help.

Clearly, SUSD Superintendent David Peterson isn’t getting the job done. The question is, when will your elected representatives in the SUSD board majority — Bonnie Sneed, George Jackson, and Kim Hartmann — get with the program and find a replacement?

The primary job of an elected official is to hold government administrators accountable for performance, as measured against objective criteria. Their job is not to unconditionally “support the administration.”

The voters trusted Sneed, Jackson, and Hartmann (along with the more critical thinkers Pam Kirby and Barbara Perleberg) to do this when in November they narrowly approved taxing themselves via the SUSD budget override. This Auditor General report (and other information that has not yet been reported in the mainstream media) is eroding that trust at a rapid rate … and will further erode critical enrollment numbers.

Mr. Washington is a local community advocate and editor of Scottsdaletrails.com

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