Putnam Hidalgo: TUSD Stop Leaving Teachers Behind!

By Betts Putnam Hidalgo

After the storm clouds of Proposition 123 passed and TUSD teachers awoke to find that they were sold a bill of goods, another scandal waits in the wings. The original education sales tax (Proposition 301) was passed 16 years ago to benefit teachers. However, TUSD hasn’t distributed all of that money to teachers in years! In fact, a careful and expert search of public records show that TUSD has close to $20 million dollars of 301 money that has been carried over incrementally, since 2012. This unexplained hoarding must stop: TUSD must stop leaving our teachers behind.

Proposition 301 monies can be carried over-in 2012, the Pedicone administration had stockpiled some 1-2 million dollars. The following year, this amount jumped to roughly 6 million. Each year more carried over, each year more accumulated. This is not discretionary money for the District. This money, distributed annually, is earmarked to raise teacher salaries, lower class sizes and pay performance bonuses. All of these things are desperately needed in TUSD.

By 2016, unbeknownst to teachers or voters, the District has accumulated almost $20 million dollars, $14,382,121 million of which is from the part of 301 monies designated for teacher performance pay. This is two years’ worth of unspent performance pay! A much lesser amount, some $2.5 million is available for increased teacher salaries. Another $2.5 million can go for “menu items” which include teacher compensation. That’s $5 million dollars that could be released now to help teachers. Nonetheless, Proposition 123 was pitched as the only way to improve teacher salaries. Once narrowly passed, the District then used only 26% of the funds for that purpose.

We were all outraged that Proposition 301’s annual increase for inflation went unpaid by the State in 2008. The ensuing lawsuit to get that money back ended with Proposition 123, where we were offered the chance to rob from our own educational future in order to pay our teachers today. This proposition was sold complete with sob stories about the Districts’ inability to pay teachers because of State cuts.

The State education cuts were outrageous. It is equally outrageous that Prop 301 monies were inexplicably withheld by the District! Why has the District stockpiled that money and, much like the State itself, ignored the will of the voters? Administration claims of “fiscal conservation” ring hollow when you know that the compensation package of the Administrator who made that claim is almost a cool half million per year after 3 years of experience.

Arizona voters decided in 2000 to tax ourselves so that our teachers would be better paid. Both the State and now the District have found ways to block that from happening. As a taxpayer, a parent and a Governing Board candidate, I call upon TUSD to do the right thing. The District must immediately pay out as much of the Proposition 301 money as possible: roughly $5 million dollars. Teacher pay must be brought up to parity with other similar districts in the State. Unrestricted Proposition 123 money should be used to bring staff and certified workers up to parity (instead of 1% raises). Voters repeatedly prioritize treating teachers well and adding funding to our public schools. The State does not. Et tu, TUSD?

About Opinion 362 Articles
Under the leadership of Editor in Chief Huey Freeman, the Editorial Board of the Arizona Daily Independent offers readers an opportunity to comments on current events and the pressing issues of the day. Occasionally, the Board weighs-in on issues of concern for the residents of Arizona and the US.


  1. I have an idea. let’s do what North Carolina does and that is fund education with their state lottery money. Release the taxpayers from this collapsing behemoth and let the gamblers pick up the tab. It’s brilliant.

  2. Vote out Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez! They are incapable of being board members as they refuse to hold HT accountable.

    BTW, Kristel Foster, as an employee of Sunnyside School Districts receives 100% of the 123 Prop money, as SSUSD did the right thing!

    Vote Kristel Foster and Cam Juarez out!!!

  3. You folks in TUSD provide entertainment to us hicks in Cochise County. Whatta buncha bums you elect and fail to shitcan. Yer streets are lousy too. I say again: Getcher kids outta the public schools.

  4. I have never voted for any education funding bonds, propositions, over-rides since Prop. 301 and I learned my lesson as to why I will never support anything that has to do with education again. When it was touted as a way to get money directly to the teachers on all the commercials; it tore at your heart strings, but lo and behold the legislators changed the directive after it passed and they forced teachers to jump through hoops to get the money and now they have actually stolen what is not theirs. Shouldn’t somebody be going to jail over this? The TEA has always been a weak union and never truly supported the well being of teachers. I understand why teachers do not strike; they have bills and children to feed of their own, but I wish that they would. This idiot politician once said that teachers get paid the market price and if they take less; it is their problem. A strike would up their market price.

  5. I am blessed to know many great teachers in several school districts. Some of their concerns about their jobs overlap and some are unique to the district which employs them. What crosses every district is the amount of respect teachers receive. Respect shows itself in many ways: trust, honoring contracts, pay, autonomy to teach without being micro-managed to discipline students who are keeping others from learning or harming those around them, grading students school work, and the list goes on…

    The ironic thing is: Teachers are asked to teach kids to think critically, ask questions, and defend their positions. But, when it comes to those Teachers feeling like they can ask questions of their Boards, supervisor etc…they are shut down and basically told to “sit down, shut up, and do as you’re told.”

    From what I have read over the last several years, TUSD does a particularly poor job on everything I listed!

    What else crosses many school districts (maybe even all) is a Teacher’s worry about bringing up concerns to their administration.

    To those who blame the Teacher’s Associations–Yes, there is some blame there, but to those who liken the AZ Teacher’s Assoc to some monolithic all powerful Teacher’s Union– NO. The two aren’t remotely close in representation or power.

    Teachers seldom speak up as retaliation is real and happens. Sadly parents feel it, too. Retaliation is the control mechanism. The exodus of both teachers and parents in TUSD speaks to “people voting with their feet” and going elsewhere if the opportunity is available. Many are just biding their time until their kid graduates or a new job opportunity or retirement arises.

    The students are the ones who suffer the most. To hoard tax dollars meant to pay the very people who have the most impact on a student’s learning is unconscionable!

    TUSD could have excluded administrators from the prop 123 pay out. It was the SOLELY the TUSD board’s decision on how to disburse those funds. TUSD also knowingly chose to keep prop 301 money.

    And they wonder why the public has no real appetite for bond over-rides? If a district has a history of misspending tax dollars why would you vote to give them more?

    Who trusts TUSD to spend tax dollars in a responsible way?
    Only people not paying any attention at all.

    TUSD also sours how voters in general look at bonds in other districts.

    The only way to fix the chaos TUSD creates as standard operating procedure is to get new eyes on the TUSD Board.

    Betts Putnam Hidalgo is looking out for tax payers, teachers, and students by shining light on the hoarding of 301 tax dollars.

    Call your friends in the TUSD area and encourage them to vote out those who support the status quo of HT Sanchez.

  6. I’m just glad I’m out of there. They can’t screw me over any more. I love children and I love teaching…did it 18 years. But I have one big question: TUSD, why do you hate your teachers so much? OH, Foster was bragging that tusd gave a $2k raise to teachers. That’s a drop in the bucket for what you’ve stolen/hoarded from us. We still have about the lowest paid teachers in the country. HR even admitted in an email to me in 2014 that I’d been underpaid all these years and would make it right. Not a penny ever came. Go figure And about 2003 Tusd stole my $1500 bonus from Gov Janet. She sued them. She lost for some reason.Tusd got that money too. Every other teacher in Az got their bonuses except us. Ours went to pay the overpaid administrators. Just glad I got the hell out.

  7. I agree, TOto…but…the Electoral Process in TUSD is Controlled by the Grijalva Democrate Mexican American Machine!!!…they vote Ethnicity and NOT Issues! That is why the “garbage” continues to be re-elected. They ENTIRE TUSD Board needs to be reconstituted!!!!

  8. Mr. Saitta, I disagree with your really negative evaluation of TUSD’s teaching force. In his years of public education in TUSD, my son has encountered many wonderful teachers who are certainly professional educators. As I walk the District talking to voters, I know his situation is not unique. There is no lack of love out there for fantastic teachers. However, a willingness to lose one’s job for speaking out is certainly not part of the criteria for that designation. Although I too wish that more TUSD staff would or could speak out against abuses, I think providing an anonymous “tip line” for whistleblowers is a far better solution than asking them to risk their livelihoods. As long as I have been involved in TUSD, administrative retaliation has been a concern. (Unlike the enormous surplus of 301 monies, this problem is longer than Sanchez’ tenure.) It requires an institutional solution, not personal attacks on already beleaguered employees.

  9. With a due respect to Ms.Putnam Hidalgo, Teachers in TUSD, particularly the Tucson “Education” Association, are the major reason for the failure of TUSD to service the Educational/Academic Interests of ALL Students in the District. They are NOT Professional Educators; but mere COWARDS with their own Self Interests as their major concern. They shutter to Criticize the Board/Administration for fear of Retaliation. This, of course, is a real concern and a effective tactic used by the Administration them keep them in line!! Nothing will change in TUSD until the Teachers in TUSD start acting like Professional Educators with the Educational/Academic Interests of their Students as their major concern…NOT Job security by keeping thier “mouths shut”

    • With whatever respect might be due to Mr. Saitta the problem is not the Teachers but the coopted TEA that several years ago became an arm of the administration.

      The TEA doesn’t have enough members to legitimately represent the teachers, but the Sanchez Administration can use the TEA for negotiations because they are merely a department of a corrupt administration. It should be noted that Sanchez inherited this situation that has been in place for at least a Decade.

      If the teachers are at fault for anything it is for tollerating this situationand not demanding to dissolve the TEA.

      • JustSayin: You Epitomize the Cowardly and Lack of Professional Educational Ethic/Responsibility of the Teachers of TUSD by using the ANONYMITY of a Penn Name in expressing your views.

        • FS your constant abuse of people who may have a legitimate reason (family to feed) to maintain anonymity to avoid the retribution from TUSD Administration is disgusting.

          Perhaps you are at a point in your life where you don’t need to worry about children, I am not. I am grateful for a platform that provides me with a little protection and allows me to speak. Personally I don’t need your arrogant approval.

      • Sir: You are unconsciously in support of the necessity for Teachers to OPENLY express their views.

        Democracies, inherently, require the OPEN participation of Citizens. When a Voters Self Interests are put before the Interests/Health of our Democracy, for fear of Retaliation by those in Power, “Citizens” become mere PAWNS. Our “Democracy” will eventually fail!!…and…what sort of Society will your Children Inherit?

  10. How is this allowed to happen? Government oversight of these cheating scams is B.S. We need citizen oversight and involvement. Where the hell do we sign? This greedy administrative cartel has got to be s#!t canned! What teacher would want to come from a different state and teach here? Better check on that TUSD because our current teachers and parents can only take so much more of this garbage!

  11. Oh, TUSD…so glad I left you. So glad I have a different employer now, one that actually pays their teachers their 301 money.

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