Extravagant Spending in Chandler School District
CUSD80 spends $2.5 Million for 3,700 chrome books, at a cost of $675 per unit. In retail, chrome books start at around $120.
Budget documents seen by The Valley Telegraph indicate that the Chandler Unified School District is spending extravagantly. Some spending proposals appear to be truly outlandish.
Chromebooks can be had for a little over $100 in retail. Chandler Unified spent $675 per unit in a recent purchase of 3,700 units. At a recent budget meeting, school district officials indicated that the units were purchased directly from HP. The HP online store shows that units suitable for study from home start at $189 and go up to $669. School district officials indicated that the purchased units are being lent out to students who do not have a computer at home.
Budget documents show that the district purchased additional HP Chromebooks for a total of $3 Million. Individual schools also earmarked budget line items for computer purchases.
Some of the spending proposals appear to be truly outlandish. The business office requested $2 Million for marketing spending. $500,000 of that were actually approved. Terry Locke, the director of community relations, sitting on a 6-figure salary, requested $150,000 for marketing, a request that was denied. Perry High School requested $500,000 for a full marketing department to "make a splash and continue to be relevant". The request was denied. For context, CUSD80 is a public school district, which means that students are forced by law to enroll in it, unless their parents sign an affidavit confirming to the state that students will be homeschooled, or, shell out thousands of dollars a year to put their children into private schools, while still being forced to pay property taxes that fund public schools. Charter schools also are popular options and are nominally free - meaning taxpayer funded - but have long waiting lists and not every applicant gets in.
Looking over the spending and spending proposals we noticed many budget line items related to administrative bloat, meaning money spent on people who don't teach. Late last year, the district and its media, government and teachers union allies heavily lobbied for a budget override. A last minute grass roots efforts by parents and taxpayers managed to make the election close, 55% for : 45% against, but could not defeat the override. Underlining the viciousness with which the educational establishment fought against parent and taxpayer interests, school board candidate Kurt Rohrs called people against the override "far right extremists who want to defund the district" and even compared them to the Mafia. The same political forces who lobbied for the budget override then, are now heavily lobbying against aggregate spending limits at the state level. After all, those overpriced laptops and administrators don't pay for themselves. Taxpayers do. Parents and taxpayers had cited a variety of reasons for their opposition to the override, from school closures, over mask mandates, overpaid administrators, a bloated administration, declining quality and performance and the more difficult economic situation impacting personal finances.
The next CUSD80 board meeting is 23 Feb, 2022 at the administrative complex at 1525 W Frye Road, Chandler.