First of all, I am a customer of TUSD. Unlike many of the people speaking for consistency and no change, I have kids in TUSD; one of my twin girls goes to Sabino High and the other goes to Sahuaro High. My son recently graduated from University High.
I speak from my personal TUSD experience. I have experienced the results of a dysfunctional discipline policy when my daughter was beaten and jumped repeatedly by a bully. I have experienced the lack of adequate classroom spending: Since Sahuaro doesn’t have enough schoolbooks for the kids, they study from cellphone pictures of textbooks. I have experienced the total lack of 504 plan follow-through for my daughter who needed extra help, resulting in her falling further and further behind. And I have listened to our teachers complain how TUSD has stolen from them by not paying them the 301/123 funds that they are rightly due.
TUSD has failed me and my kids.
The Metro Chamber should well understand that entities are graded on performance. Let’s assume that TUSD is in the business of educating our children. No politics, no power-grabbing, no spin. Simply the business of educating our kids. So how has TUSD performed under Superintendent H.T. Sanchez?
Classroom spending was down under Sanchez.
Since 2013 and Superintendent Sanchez’s arrival, TUSD has spent less than 50 percent on classroom spending. Last year, classroom spending was 48.8 percent, and in the 10 years prior to Sanchez the average classroom spending was 53.6 percent. This difference of nearly 5 percent in classroom spending equates to $21.7 million taken from our kids and the teachers.
Administration costs were up under Sanchez.
The job of leadership is to run a lean, mean, performing machine. The Arizona auditor general’s report from March 2017 states that TUSD spends $41.5 million in administration costs, which on a per-student basis is up 5.5 percent since 2013. Compared to peer districts, TUSD spends percent more on administration (907 people vs. 567 in peer districts). Overspending in administration is a prime example of a failing company.
Student performance is less in than peer districts.
TUSD students pass the AZMerit math and English tests at a 28 percent rate. Our performance is 58 percent of similar-sized peer districts. Additionally, TUSD students pass at half the rate of Vail and below scores of Amphi and Flowing Wells. TUSD pushes kids out of the system by lowering performance, which increases graduation rates. This does not serve our kids well.
Enrollment continued to decline under Sanchez.
During and since the November election, we have heard that enrollment had turned the corner and was increasing for the first time in years. Per the auditor general, TUSD lost 570 students in the last year, and TUSD’s own internal records recognize a loss greater than 300+ students. Put on our Metro Chamber business hat and we see that TUSD students fell by 2,700 while admin costs increased by 5.5 percent under Sanchez. That is poor management in any company, and in any school.
So as businesspeople, it should be obvious why a leadership change was needed at TUSD. Performance was lacking, dollars have been misspent and our students were suffering. Rather than succeeding as a district, the focus of management was on retaining the status quo at all costs.
If TUSD was your company, changes would be made. Why should our kids not receive the same attention? Having schoolbooks at Sahuaro would be a great start.