- Ben Cooper
CUSD80 Increases Administrative Bloat
The Chandler Unified School District, CUSD80, is adding a new administrative director, bringing the number to 28. Salary: Up to $171,000 per year, plus benefits.
CUSD80 currently has 27 director level administrators, from Superintendent Frank Narducci, over Director of Equity and Inclusion, Adama Sallu, to Director for Safety and Security, Tanya Smith. With but one or two exceptions, all director level staff sit on six figure pay packages, plus benefits. Narducci makes around $250,000 per year, plus benefits.
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The new position is titled Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning. It is advertised with a salary range of $121,887 to $171,222 per year, plus benefits.
The district already has position titled Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, currently occupied by Craig Gilbert, who pulls in a salary of close to $200,000 per year plus benefits.
It's notable that administrative positions in public school districts are typically given to teachers. Frank Narducci for example was a CUSD80 teacher before becoming an administrator.
It is questionable that a district that already has 27 director level administrators needs a 28th, especially when numerous positions related to learning and teaching already exist. Administrative bloat is the hallmark of broken, failing and corrupt systems and institutions. CUSD80, along with almost any other public school district in the nation, sees lower and lower student test scores, reading and math comprehension, despite ever growing funding. American, including Arizonian, public schools are among the best funded, but least achieving schools in the developed world.
In November of 2021, the district, supported by teachers unions and big government proponents, won a closely contested special election authorizing a budget override. Parents and taxpayers had mounted a spirited last ditch effort to defeat the override, bringing the election margin to a never before seen 55:45. Normally override and bond election are won with around 65:35 or even higher margins.
In citizens' budget meetings CUSD80 CFO Lana Berry has indicated that this money was not actually needed, but that the district took it anyway - the full 15% allowed under the budget override - and put it in reserve. When questioned by school board candidate Kurt Rohrs - who strongly supported the override - during a recent board meeting, Superintendent Frank Narducci refused to answer how much money is in the reserve fund.
Data shows that in the last 2 years CUSD80 has been losing around 2,000 students as a result of school shutdowns/lockdowns and fed up parents. Models based on demographic developments project that the district will continue to lose students in the next 10 years. The district currently has around 43,000 students and around 5,000 staff. It has an operating budget of around $400 Million.
The entire Chandler delegation to the Arizona House and Senate (Republicans and Democrats) recently voted to authorize an override of an Arizona State constitutional spending limit, flushing more than $1 Billion out of the wallets of families and other tax payers, into public school districts around the state. Gilbert Republicans stood much stronger and mostly opposes the measure. As is always the case in such elections/votes, teachers unions, Democratic politicians and their media allies raised alarm and threatened strikes and school closures unless the money is allotted.
This episode makes clear that parents and taxpayers shaking their fist into the sky, appearing at board meetings to complain about overspending, underachievement, the teaching of racism (CRT, equity, diversity etc.) and so many other ill development in public schools are pointless unless they are followed up with targeted action. This action is to take control of school boards with strong and principled people who are not afraid to use their power to break the status quo, fire people, purge the radicals and reverse course.
The Democratic Party is owned in part by teachers unions. Teachers unions form a highly organized voting and financing block for the left. They successfully influenced the CDC to recommend/mandate masks, vaccines and school closures. In almost 100% of the cases are they successful in extracting more money from taxpayers by making parents' lives miserable with strikes and school closures. As a result, public school teachers are very well compensated. in CUSD80 they make on average $65,000 for 8 or 9 months of work per year. The average Chandler citizen makes $45,000, for which he or she has to work 11 or 11.5 months per year.
Comments from CUSD80 teachers on the post from 3 March 2022 on the CUSD80 facebook page didn't much focus on whether the position was needed or not, but rather teachers complained that they didn't receive enough of a raise last year.
Republicans in Arizona have done a fairly decent job in building parallel systems to increase choice, e.g. charter schools and private schools with difficult to get but available scholarships. This allows some families to opt out of the failing public school systems, although they still have to pay for it via property taxes. Arizona Republicans have done a less than stellar job to hold the default option, public schools, accountable, clean and efficient. This is because it takes a strength that few politicians have to resist the emotional blackmail that the highly organized education establishment uses every time: "It's for the children". The truth is: It's not for the children. Children, parents and education play almost no role in the calculations of the modern education establishment. It's almost purely a system that milks taxpayers for the monetary benefit and political power of administrators, unions, teachers, staff and the Democratic Party.
The next CUSD80 board meeting is on 30 March 2022 at the administrative complex at 1525 W Frey Rd, Chandler.