TUSD in financial crisis, board kept in dark

grijalvaToday outgoing Tucson Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Yousef Awwad notified the Governing Board members that the District is facing a $15 million deficit. Awwad, who announced his departure from the District last month, responded today to an inquiry made by Board member Michael Hicks.

It was well-known at the time of Awwad’s resignation that he and other administrators were privately concerned about the direction Superintendent H.T. Sanchez and Board president Adelita Grijalva were taking the District.

“I have not had a chance to review the information fully, but it appears to indicate that TUSD is operating at a deficit that has been building for some time,” wrote Stegeman to constituents today. “The fact that district leadership called a press conference less than five hours later, including a press release from the board president, seems in itself to indicate the gravity of the situation.”

Stegeman noted that he could not “offer detailed comments until I have a chance to review the data more carefully, but it appears that the imbalance did not arise overnight. This raises the possibility of problems in financial management extending back many months.”

Stegeman concluded that he was “concerned that the superintendent had not advised the board about this situation, that the information came only through direct communication from Mr. Awwad. I am also concerned that the board president appears to be announcing what actions the board will take, before the board has had a chance to review the situation.”

Grijalva claimed that she called the press conference to depoliticize the news of the imbalance because she is facing re-election. She said she did not want anyone to use the news against her. However the press release reads in part: “In addition, the District wants to make the community aware of the importance of Proposition 301 and the upcoming elections.”

Earlier this year, Hicks requested financial information from the District related to the Early Learning Centers and received no detailed information about the financial commitment from the District. On September 23, after Hicks became very concerned about what he believed was a gross failure in accountability and transparency by the District and Board leadership, he sent an inquiry to Awwad.

Today Awwad responded by email:

“I have put together the attached estimates. The picture does not look good for FY2016. Come July 1st 2015 I am estimating that we will be in a deficit position of about $15 million. For the current fiscal year FY2014-2015, we will barely meet the budgeted expenditures, last fiscal year FY2013-14, we overspent our budget by about $5 million.”

Based on my analysis I recommend the following:
• Monitor the expenditures and place hiring freeze by January 1st if our actuals are in line with our budget.
• You may want to consider specific measures to reduce the budget for Next Fiscal year in the next few months. The amount should be determined based on how much the state will fund schools for the court order.
• Our Capital funding is at risk, I suggest we freeze capital spending immediately and monitor the expenditures closely to ensure that the district does not over spent its capacity.”

“Under our current Board leadership, the secrecy has increased at nearly the same rate as our enrolment has declined,” said Hicks. “I have been stonewalled every step of the way in my attempts to get to the truth behind our financial and legal situations. As we have seen today with Ms. Grijalva’s announcement that the “District plans to seek financial analysis from an outside expert,” unilateral decisions are made without regard to the rest of the board, the taxpayers, teachers, parents, and students.”

“I will not sit idly by while the District leadership finds an “expert” who will explain away the failure. Ms. Grijalva claims that she does not want this to become a political issue, however it is because the leadership continues to focus on political not financial calculations that we are where we are today.”

Under Grijalva’s leadership, Sanchez was hired quickly from a Texas district that he left in poor shape. Since his hiring, he has hired his former Texas colleagues to replace the fleeing administrators who remained from the Superintendent Pedicone’s administration.

Under Sanchez’s leadership the administration has grown, and he arranged to borrow money to support his pre-school scheme. That scheme was presented as a recruiting tool.  While the District has not worked to attract highly qualified teachers, Ms. Grijalva’s mother-in-law was hired as a principal. That hiring caused a fire storm when it was learned that the women’s relationship was kept hidden from other Board members.

This is exactly why TUSD needs an internal auditor, says education activists. Stegeman has been proposing an auditor who would report directly to the Governing Board and not to the superintendent. A request for that position and has been blocked by Grijalva and Sanchez.

27 Comments on "TUSD in financial crisis, board kept in dark"

  1. I wonder if HT has budgeted for new chairs and couches for the board. At the rate that LaGorda’s big fat butt is growing, it’s going to cost some big bucks for furniture big enough.

    • It is interesting to read about the antics of H.T. and his wife. When is was in Odessa, TX he created such a mess that only now, a year later, the school district is beginning to recover teacher morale; recover student morale; and recovering student performance in the classroom. H.T. along with his boss Mendez, his wife and his good buddy Vega did more to destroy a school district than anyone ever could. Tucson is now faced with the same type of mess that Odessa has gone through and it is only when the school board and the community finally wake up to see that he and his cohorts create messes and they don’t stick around to help clean them up. H.T. has a history of jumping from one job to another when the going gets to tough for him. Tucson, cut your losses before it is to late! Everything he is doing in Tucson, he and his wife did in Odessa! Rein him in before it is to late to recover from a complete fiasco.

  2. White students continue to flee the district by the thousands.

    TUSD WILL be a brown school district, it is what Raul Grijalva and his obese daughter, LaGorda and their racist henchman HT Sanchez have decided. And property owners in the district, just shut up and pay. You have absolutely no say. They can take as much as they want from you. There’s thousands and thousands of illegals to be educated and indoctrinated into the Grijalva mafia.

    It’s real simple, if you ain’t brown, you ain’t down.

  3. so if TUSD goes broke – will it go under? making lemonade of lemons –

  4. Just more of the same Grijalva led BS from this school district. With all of the deseg monies and their tax base they should have more than enough to spend but they don’t. Wonder where it goes. Wonder why Grijalva and her clone Sanchez don’t want the pubic let alone the board to know of the shortfall. Wow, only in BAJA, AZ are politics played like this. Oh wait you said Chicago where our lord and savior is from?? See any similarities? Question and you are shut out. You get no say its all about the radicalization of our children and building up some hack for political office because they are too stupid or lazy to work for private industry. Ms. Grijalva wouldn’t last a day in the real world. She and her father are takers and abusers of the system and want to lead the way for others to follow them. What you gonna do when the money runs out Ms Grijalva, and it will? Oh wait it will be everyone fault but yours. Isn’t that how you play the victim. Thought so.

  5. I do not agree with racist crap,
    TUSD has been one of the worst run shool districts in the state and probably the nation and Grijalva has to share a lot of that blame, Wake up Tucson and vote these bums out. If you always vote like you always have, you will always get what you what you always got!
    We need to educate the voters and we need to offer them better candidates so they will vote the bums outs. The parents who live in TUSD are not stupid, many of them do take matters into their own hands and pull their kids out just because of the idiots running TUSD making decisions like this (I was one of them)
    Closing some schools was just the first step, We need to get rid of a bunch of the administrators, Stop allowing illegals to attend, there are several small steps to take that when put together will save a lot of money. “If you watch the Pennies the Dollars will take care of themselves” Put the Students First and watch how the community will support your efforts!

    • Allowing illegal alien children to attend public schools is not up to TUSD. In the early 1980s, the US Supreme Court decided the case of Plyler v. Doe. Their decision held that the 14th Amendment requires public school districts to allow illegal aliens residing in the school district to attend school. Until there is a court case that reverses this decision or the 14th Amendment is itself amended, that decision is the law of the land. There are lots of things TUSD can do to cut the fat from its budget, but that is simply not one of them.

  6. So he was concerned the direction that Grijalva was taking TUSD. Do you think we weren’t?

    It’s time to close it. Now. Let Vail, Flowing wells and Amphi HAVE the buildings and expand their districts.

    Grijalva solved.

  7. The Mexicans can have TUSD. And just to be fair, they can have El Paso too.

  8. When you have Hispanics running the show you end up with third world results. What more do you expect? Racist? Bring it on but consider the facts first.

  9. Yes Bob, I’m with you. They can have it, but they must take it back to Mexico, akin to Pancho Villa’s raids.

    That will help them with the self esteem they desperately lack.

  10. Richard hernandez | September 25, 2014 at 9:03 am |

    Wow hate, racist , now I bet you folks will tell me your Christian?

    Let’s stop being complainers, haters to mention just a few things. Let’s be AMERICANS find solution. Just 41 days cast your vote escort Adelita to curb!

    If not than shut up and deal with it. That how we Americans do things, vote!!

  11. “Let’s be Americans.”

    That’s way too funny. A very significant portion of the student body and their parents are not.

    And certainly the Grijalva’s stand against “Americans”.

    Tell me again why tusd forces the “Americans” to take spanish?

  12. It may be more accurate to say “let’s work together and solve this for illegals. That’s the way illegals do it.”

    What part of illegal do you not understand?

    She will be reelected.

    There is no trust of the election systems in PC.

  13. To the poster reminding us that tucson taxpayers must pay for the education of illegals, there’s a big difference with abiding by the law and actively recruiting illegals to exploit them for the tax dollars that follow them.

    Simply put, they are slaves to the Grijalva’s.

    Viva MEChA, Viva la reconquesta, Viva Aztlan!!!

  14. Richard hernandez | September 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm |

    I am going remind all of you Adelita did not decide all children can & should be allowed in schools. It was U.S. Supreme Court. When that was done no Hispanic was on the Court.

    Stop giving her credit for things she did not do. There is power in truth. ALL CHILDREN deserve education. I to be clear agree with Supreme Court.

    Vote her out based on Truth & Justice. Let me yell at you, the only thing at TUSD must be

    kIDS #1.

    No color, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, or place for f birth should allow anyof ne to stop any child from an education. Listen closely …. they are just kids!!!!!

    • Thanks Richard
      Yes the illegals do cost us TUSD tax payers a lot of money, Someone needs to challenge the ruling in court.
      It is the school board that is really costing us, more than 50% of our taxes are spent for Administration costs, Sanchez and rest make way too much money the work they are not doing.

  15. Well ya know why its kept in the dark dont cha? Once the light is in the roaches all have to run and hide. TUSD is a cesspool of waste. The school bored isn’t but it is. They have not provided any due dilligence in any of the operations for years. Its about like the city clowncil and the county boreds. A crony system that only reacts when the light is turned on, pretty much like the current federal level of stuff. They are not held accountable because they know that the voters dont know what they have been up to and never will. Saw greedyhalfa on the news tonight trying to blame all on the state and everyone else. Not once did she acknowldege her and her followers being to blame. Supposedly the school admin works under the guidance of the bored but when none is provided and a slickster is hired and TELLS the bored what to do well what can you expect. He ran a system in texas into the ground, and is on his way her all with the blessings of the greedyhalfas and company.

    A lot drank the hope and change koolaid, well now its time to hope for change at all levels. Follow the dictum of the d’s VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN thats how they stay in. But we need to have folks VOTE ALL INCUMBENTS out if they actually want to HOPE for CHANGE.

  16. A current letter to Sanchez in the 3 Sonorans. Must read

    A letter from TUSD administrators to superintendent HT Sanchez.

    September 2014

    To: H.T:

    On our own time, a few TUSD administrators have gotten together to share our concerns about the serious mismanagement of TUSD. For months we have felt that we are heading straight into a financial crisis. As we prepared to get this out, the news hit on a potential deficit of over $15,000,000. We are glad that an expert will be hired to examine the situation. The expert should report directly to the Governing Board. Those of us in schools feel abandoned, having to make due with little to support our teachers and students. Those of us in departments keep experiencing the “sweeping” of our budgets with no control over our budgets. Some have not even been allowed to see their budgets. “TUSD transparency” does not exist. Even desegregation budgets are being “swept.” Now we know why the sweeping is taking place. What we see is that you have treated TUSD as your own personal bank account, funding YOUR projects without thought of the impact on students. How can you possibly think bonuses for those who go along with you benefit children? How does Ms. Tolleson’s extravagant salary increase support for the schools or students? She represents only your interests. We are just fed up and, in writing you, we are making the effort to let you know that you are not as clever as you act and not as popular as you assume. Recently you said that TUSD is the most political school district in the state. You have made it so. You are the most political superintendent in the history of TUSD; shallow on educational expertise and deep in the manipulation of board members and those who report to you.

    You talk at us and seldom with us. The youngest of the site and department administrators are naïve about the emptiness you spout. We realize that your effort to get rid of so many seasoned and assertive administrators had more to do with your building personal support for YOU than staffing departments and schools with exceptionally qualified professionals. You have frightened seasoned and strong administrators out of the District.

    By copy of this to many of our peers, community activists, to those involved in the desegregation case and to those who have the power to investigate, we are hoping that the facts in response to our questions will surface.

    We have many questions of you:

    -When you wash-out ALL of the budget reserve to use on YOUR projects and then make every effort to point to the state as the wrong-doer, it shows your level of immorality. You have depleted Title I funding and you are attempting to misuse desegregation money. The audits were funded for PR purposes; now you mostly ignore or twist the recommendations that were made in the audits.

    – When you dominate every meeting by your incessant talking, we all wonder; do you ever want to hear any other voices? Does anyone else count besides you? May it be that your personality has many deficiencies? Get help. Meanwhile, stop talking so much.

    – When you talk about Texas, Texas, Texas it is irrelevant to Tucson. Do you understand that we do not give a damn about Texas? Stop talking about your single reference point. This is not Texas. If you miss it so much, go back! Stop the Texas references. Stories of how you get out of your truck to kiss the Texas earth when you return to the lone state are obnoxious.

    – When you profess to have a 3 digit IQ (most of us do) it makes it sound like you have a 2 digit IQ. Do you honestly believe that we believe that you are an expert in everything? We don’t! You spout off on every topic as though you are its sole expert. You are not.

    – When your wife appears at 1010 and attends meetings; it is inappropriate. Your wife is not the 1010 first lady and she should not assume the role. You should not exploit her or your children by flaunting them at professional meetings such as TUSD meetings, the Hispanic Chamber, etc. She is not your mediator or PR agent. And she should not be attempting to influence people who attend TUSD meetings on YOUR behalf.

    -When your wife attends professional development training sponsored by TUSD it is not only tacky, it is legally inappropriate. She should NOT be attending professional development training at the expense of TUSD. (Is she applying the training to obtain Arizona certification?) It is a good thing she was not hired as a principal in TUSD. Keep your personal life to yourself!

    -When your wife enters a TUSD facility by using a security code, it is a violation of policy. It is likely your code she is using, which you were not supposed to disclose. If any of us did something similar, we would be disciplined.

    -When you take out a loan for the day cares and spent all spring and summer advertising for the days cares, other things get forgotten; like K-12. We checked Board agendas and it does not look like you got approval for the loan.

    – When you use insults in speaking about your staff, community members, board members and others, it is rude and unprofessional. Your insults are all repeated.

    – When you use language that is disparaging, based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation; do you really believe that what you say is not repeated?

    – When you want to play games with the budget; do you not understand that there still remain some staff who will not be part of the unethical conduct? (We wrote this before the 15 million dollar projected deficit hit.

    – When you question whether ‘the three people who speak during call to the audience the most- represent the community’- it makes you sound unsound.

    – When you tell a large group of individuals that the people who filed the complaint at Tucson High Magnet ‘will all be gone..’ it is blatant retaliation. You may not like the fact that they complained but you should understand that YOU cannot punish those who complained based on the fact that they complained. (Steve Holmes, shame on you for doing H.T.s’ bidding.) Do you need to learn that lesson through the courts? Remember, there are now several witnesses to your statement.

    – When you challenge your bosses (board members) when they question what the administration is doing or wants to do- it is unprofessional. That is their job. Do you not understand checks and balances? Stop threatening the board with your departure and learn how to be a superintendent. Stop being a whining politician. You talk over female governing board members and attempt to intimidate them. Stop the sexism. You are outrageously rude to Dr. Stegeman and Mr. Hicks and whether you agree with them or not, they are your bosses; treat them with respect. You are condescending to Mr. Juarez and pretentious.

    – When you mispronounce words and have the nerve to correct others it makes you look small(er). Learn how to pronounce curriculum? You are supposed to be an educator! http://www.howjsay.com/index.php?word=curriculum
    – When you almost cross the state/church line- it is offensive. STOP the religious overtones in meetings by having people stop for a moment of contemplation and group energy against those contesting YOU. You talk about the change you have brought about as though you have “saved” TUSD. It is offensive. You speak about good and evil as though you are the blessed one. You are not. If by change you mean disorder, confusion and turmoil; yes, you have brought about change.If by change, if you mean bankrupting the District- yes, you have brought about a lot of chaotic change.

    – When you interfere with the hiring processes- everyone knows what you have done to “wire” the outcome. We know that there is a principal you hired who has NOT passed their state test. Yet, this is the reason you gave for not hiring a candidate that ranked above a board member’s mother-in-law. Stop tampering with the hiring processes. It has already burned you. Stop your pre-selection maneuvering; telling people that you are going to hire Lorenzo Lopez for the CRP Director months before any process is finalized. This just shows how corrupt the processes have become.

    – When you move administrators and teachers around like chess pawns it is bad for the District and paranoid of you. Moving people out of 1010 so the “leaks” will stop is paranoid and retaliatory! If there is nothing to hide, H.T., why all the moves? There are more leaks now than ever…because everyone is watching you.

    – When you do not empower administrators they take their power elsewhere. Your site administrators may not speak much during meetings but you should trust that they are talking a lot elsewhere. If any principal raises questions or concerns during any of YOUR meetings, it is understood that they are “HT blackballed”.

    – When you retaliate against those who have opinions different than you but who are devoted to TUSD, it is another sign of your weak character. Your retaliation tactics have been exposed and at some point it is going to make headlines. How many administrators have you intimidated out of the District?

    – When you lie to the Board about teachers having all that they need, it is sinful. Teachers do not have materials, textbooks, workbooks, etc. Problems with discipline continue, due to lack of quality training. A few power point slides is NOT sufficient to be called training.

    -When you lower class size at the last minute before school starts and only for the sake of publicity and not kids, YOU wind up with a mess. You call this YOUR initiative; the Board did not vote on it except through the budget. This is NOT the way to adopt policy. You are not a Board Member. You may manipulate them (three of them), but you are not one of them. We have lost so much respect for the three Board Members who we believed were there to represent the students, parents, teachers, etc. They are there to serve YOU.

    -When you have various department budgets “swept” these departments are left without the ability to do their job. This includes not being able to hire or purchase needed materials and supplies. That must be your intention.

    – When you cut teachers at the kindergarten level- it has not been done fairly across the District. There are kndg. classes below 20 students at Fruchtendler (your neighborhood school) which have not been cut, while others have. This shows your lack of morality and fairness.

    -When you say that if A. Grijalva loses, you are ‘out of here’- it shows that your destiny is closely tied to one single person. This is dangerous and does not say much about the depth of your work, which we agree is shallow. You are hurting her by making this statement.
    -When you think you are the slyest of sly, think again. Everything you say is repeated in one fashion or another. Just know that. Everything you do is being watched. No matter where you move those who you believe to be “leaking” people will continue to talk. You, the talker of all talkers, should know that.

    -When you got your bonus; where did it go? In YOUR pocket? Other superintendents have given it back to the District. You should have followed in this tradition.

    -When you put the Strategic Planning Committee together did you inform the entire Board and the general public that Juarez’ wife and A. Grijalva’s sister were and are on the Strategic Planning Committee. You loaded the committee with your selection of TUSD employees, which was the majority of those who attended, and then manipulated members of the public into believing that they had contributed.

    -When you allow Adrian Vega to get away with harassment of all types, you endorse his behavior.

    Your reputation for gag-ordering people is wide-spread; for taking retaliatory action against those who question you; for your use of Adrian Vega as your hatchet-man and for your vindictive verbal attacks behind the backs of anyone who “stands in your way.” Be a “man” and confront people with your attacks; otherwise, please stop the attacks.

    -When you lie to the Governing Board, administrators, teachers and the public…many know and many are getting the truth out.

    We will not disclose our names. We ask Board Members to look into answering each and every question that has been put to you. We do not expect any level of honesty from you.

    Copies: Board Members

    TUSD supporters (please distribute to interested individuals)

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  17. Veronica L. Valentino | September 26, 2014 at 7:28 pm |

    Todd Bender’s post just floored me, along with Mike Hicks’s interview this afternoon on James T. Harris’s show. If things are that bad, why doesn’t the TUSD School Board clean house? It grieves me to learn of this discontent because there are many hard-working teachers and students in TUSD who need the support of the TUSD school board, not the mess outlined in Todd’s post.

    • Veronica, It takes three votes on the TUSD Governing Board to do anything. So long as Juarez and Foster provide knee-jerk support for Grijalva (and Sanchez) no positive change can take place. With the exception of one small time period the majority of the TUSD Governing Board over the past dozen years has had little interest in student learning. They are all about the personal, political, and financial interests of adults. Until that changes, TUSD will continue its death spiral, hemorrhaging more and more students every year as families flee to school districts and charter schools where student learning is important to the leaders and not just to the teachers and parents.

    • Why doesn’t the TUSD board clean house?

      Because it’s exactly what LaGorda Grijalva and her daddy, Mexican Mafia kingpin Raul want. TUSD is theirs to indoctrinate illegals to the evils of the white man and the necessity of LaReconquesta, to build Aztlan.

      Ever noticed the color of LaGorda’s campaign signs. Brown.

      If you ain’t brown, you ain’t down.

    • Call to Action | September 27, 2014 at 7:46 am |

      Veronica, the current baord needs to be changed. Adelita must go and be replaced with a conservative voice.

      Elections have consequences and as long as the board is balanced in favor of the progressive democrats led by Adelita Grihalva this district will continue to discintigrate. It appears that the only \ candidates not committed to the Sanchez/ Grijalva ideology are Hicks and Fleenor. All of the others are either radical activists or Union hacks like Jen Darland.

  18. well as noted in the ‘letter’, get ride of greedyhalfas daughter/heir in waiting and maybe sanchez will go back to texas! That sure is something to hope for, the guy is a waste of time and breath. So take her and him down at the same time.

    Vote and HOPE FOR CHANGE, we know that the vote for change was a failure.

  19. Is it any wonder that crap like this goes on in the cesspool that is TUSD? When we have a newspaper like the ADS that simply refuses to do any investigative reporting on anything the this worthless administration led by the “Toadette” and her henchman HT. Unless we dump her and elect two people that will take an interest in the children and their education and demand answers from the administration and not some political hacks that are blind followers of Grijalva and her clones. If you think things can’t get any worse in this district, just wait. They can and will and Rick K is right. The death spiral will continue. But I am not going to hold my breath for this bastion of crap here in Baja, Az. Sadly its the way things are done here. As a taxpayer, I can only vote and hope.

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