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  • Ben Cooper

Chandler School District Spends $7M in 11 Minutes

In rapid fire manner the CUSD80 board spent around $7 Million on various projects. The governing board essentially rubber stamped the spending proposals by the district.

In their recent meeting on January 26 2022, the governing board of the Chandler Unified School District, CUSD80, did not ask a single question about the possibility of cheaper options for the various projects. Proposals presented by Superintendent Frank Narducci and Associate Superintendent for support services Frank Fletcher were simply waved through. Though not specifically mentioned during the board meeting this time, the money presumably comes from the 2019 bond that transferred around $290.25 Million, plus interest, from taxpayers to the school district. From kitchen upgrades to new LED lighting for the performing arts, not a single of the items appears to be directly related to the kind of education parents, and the labor market, value most for children: math, science, reading, writing, civics.

Here is a breakdown of the spending:

  • Hamilton High School kitchen equipment rebrand for $268,195.42, using Arizona Restaurant Supply in Tucson.

  • Central kitchen equipment rebrand for $393,875.17 to be paid to Arizona Restaurant Supply in Tucson.

The board did not ask any questions, including if cheaper alternatives are available. A quick internet search revealed that there are other companies in the state supplying restaurant style kitchen equipment, including Phoenix Restaurant Supply, Tucson Restaurant Supply, Alida Restaurant Supply in Phoenix, Standard Restaurant Supply in Mesa and National Restaurant Supply in Phoenix. There are many more such companies in other states, at least some of which appear to operate nationwide via an online presence.

  • Renovation and extension of the Hamilton High School kitchen: $6,000,000 (estimated)

The board approved to pay $330,000 to an architectural firm to start the project. The board did not ask if cheaper alternatives are available.

  • Upgrade of the LED lighting of the performing arts center at Basha High School: $483,748.24 (estimated)

  • Upgrade of the LED lighting of the performing arts center at Perry High School: $215,256.83 (estimated)

The district will contract with Clearwing Systems Integration. The board did not ask any questions associated with cost and possible cheaper alternatives. A quick internet search on the topic revealed many companies which are able to do this kind of lighting work. Basha High School was named after Eddie Basha Jr. of the Basha chain of stores. Mr Basha had served on the CUSD governing board, donated millions to CUSD, and unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1994.

In the citizens' comments prior to the consent agenda, school board candidate Kurt Rohrs addressed the board. In his remarks Mr Rohrs reminded the governing board members that with the current high inflation it is more important than ever to show budget discipline. However, when parents and taxpayers actually tried to reign in the budget via their grassroots push against the budget override in late 2021, Mr Rohrs vehemently spoke out against them. On social media posts we have seen, Mr Rohrs at one point compared these parents to the Mafia. The cancellation of the proposed budget override would have forced budget discipline via a tax decreasing budget reduction.

The override measure did pass in November 2021, but as a result of the parents' last ditch grass-roots effort, the election was very close with 55% or 23,769 voters for and 45% or 18,877 voters against the override. In previous years, and in other districts at the same time, such measures typically pass(ed) with 65:35% margins. The district itself employs 5,000, the City of Chandler around 1,500 people. It is fair to assume that the majority of those people, and possibly their family members, vote for budget increases on a regular basis. Due to this vested interest of voters who work for the government, anti-budget increase efforts are always very difficult to bring to a successful conclusion, especially when they are being put on the ballot in off years with low overall voter turn out.

In the previous board meeting two weeks ago the board approved around $4 Million to build 8 tennis courts on newly acquired land for Casteel High School, named after Camille Casteel, then the current superintendent of CUSD80.

The video below records the consent and action items related to the spending proposals.

1 comment

1 Comment

Feb 02, 2022

You misrepresented my comments and my positions in your article. I never referred to anyone as the "Mafia". Please confirm any further reporting with me first at It is a matter of journalistic professionalism and ethics. Thank you.

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