Foster Grijalva Mislead Public, Now TUSD Enrollment Decline To Force Tough Choices

Adelita Grijalva and Kristel Foster campaigned to spare Sanchez. That campaign may have cost the District $200K.

At its last Board meeting, Tucson Unified School District Governing Board members learned that the District’s decline in enrollment continued unabated during Dr. H.T. Sanchez’s tenure. As a result, the District is now facing a loss of nearly $5 million dollars.

District leaders will have to soon make difficult choices. While Board member Kristel Foster told the ADI that she “will work with Dr. Trujillo, as he stated last night, to listen to and consider staff recommendations as they work with our bargaining groups to bring budget proposals before the Board,” community members are saying that the cuts should never be a concern for collective bargaining units.

The community is demanding that any cuts be made from the administrative fat; and there is a lot of that. Fortunately, a few administrators are on their way out. As Board member Mark Stegeman said when asked about the sensationalized “news” that Deputy Superintendent Karen Kopec would be leaving at the end of the year, “We need to reduce administrative positions.”

Stegeman said he would not personally want to fill that position, according to the Arizona Daily Star report. The Star also reported that “Kopec joins Anna Maiden, chief human resources officer, and Chief Financial Officer Karla Soto,” who are also on their way out. The departures offer an amazing opportunity to reduce administrative cost hire employees whose skills match their salaries. Maiden and Soto’s positions were important and hiring competent replacements could actually save the District money.

Due to the fact that the District does not have enough teachers to meet the need that currently exists, the Board has no choice but to cut the fluff.

There is a lot of fluff ‘n stuff

During Sanchez tenure, the District entered into a massive $750,000 contract with KVOA for advertising and other related PR services. Those services served Sanchez, but not the District.

Those dollars were supposed to be used to increase interest in the District and enrollment with specific attention given to magnet schools. Maybe the massive expense slowed the decline in enrollment, but it could be argued that the money would have been better spent on making classrooms more attractive to parents, students, and teachers, who would then be the salespersons for the District. Whatever “special” effort was made for the magnet schools did not seem to help those which recently lost their magnet status.

The evidence is clear; parents prefer neighborhood schools and heed the suggestions of other parents. If a school is close-by, clean, safe, and houses the happy kids of satisfied parents, enrollment will most likely hold steady. TUSD’s administration failed to recognize those really basic human behaviors. Of course, special theme schools, such as magnets should be a tremendous attraction for students with specific interests in any of the offered themes (fine arts, math/science/technology, etc.), however, such schools must be supported to the level of actually providing quality programs, which has not been the case for every magnet school.

Under Sanchez, it seems money was no object and appearances were everything. In fact, in May the District entered into a $64,500 contract with SchoolDesk for a new website. Despite the fact that the District has its own webmasters, it contracted with SchoolDesk to build a fairly basic website. While the new site, according to Communications director Stephanie Boe, is a mirror of the old site, it is cracked due to an incomplete migration process. Links to vital documents and other public records are as broken as the public’s trust.

A losing proposition

During his tenure, and the 2016 General Election, Sanchez and Tucson Unified School District Governing Board (TUSD) members Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijlava continued to make baseless and incredible claims that the District’s enrollment had increased.

The claim was baseless due to the fact that there was no available data upon which to base the claim. It is that simple.

In order to make it appear that the enrollment increased, the District included the unfunded pre-K child enrollment numbers. Not only are these children not TUSD students, the funding of this daycare project is drained from TUSD classrooms.

The rational for including the daycare kids was that maybe, someday, they might enroll in TUSD schools. Seriously, that was the sole basis for including them.

Tucson Unified School District FY 2016 ‐ 2017 Adopted Budget for Brichta $1,272,634 | Schumaker $1,642,018. The Brichta and Schumaker Infant & Early Learning Centers do not qualify for funding from the State of Arizona. The District takes the money from traditionally funded classrooms to offer this “high quality affordable childcare” to Tucson families. The money-losing scheme was created during the Sanchez administration, and the enrollees were ultimately used to prop up the District’s stats. [Click on image to view the complete budget book]
When asked why she continued to repeat the baseless claim, Foster referred the ADI to a picture of a press conference in which a super-good looking poster shows that the pre-K students were included in the count. She offered that picture as evidence that the District was honest about how they got their numbers.

Unfortunately, the District staff may have been honest about the numbers, but Foster was not at all. In an opinion piece in the Star published only days before the election, Foster wrote: “Most impressively, we have done an about face when it comes to our notorious enrollment loss. In fact, 228 more K-12 students have entered TUSD since the 40th day of the 2015-2016 school year compared to the 52nd school day this year.” The fact that Foster specifically states “K-12”, in this quote when she was by her own admission aware that pre-K enrollment was added in as part of the figure, shows intentional misinformation was provided by her in order for her to regain her seat. Any politician who consciously decides to provide voters with misinformation and is found out, as Foster has been, should not be believed again.

During their campaign to spare Sanchez from termination, Foster and Grijalva continued to mislead the public. Foster posted on Facebook that “together” the District’s leaders had “increased student enrollment.” Grijlava shared the post as gospel.

Binders full of evidence

When confronted with the evidence compiled against him, Sanchez had no choice but to resign. The crack PR crew he had developed during his tenure made it nearly difficult to send him packing with nothing. He walked away with $200K, but in the end it was the District’s stakeholders that gained.

Those stakeholders gained the truth. They now know exactly the state of the District and can begin to plan for next year, and the year after that, and the years after that.

In the end, Sanchez had no choice, and he left the public with no choice. They must demand a transparent and lean administration dedicated to getting dollars in the classrooms. They really have no choice.

15 Comments

  1. luke that has been the magic question for last 40 years. Remember greedy halfa got his start on the school bored then moved to BOS, then was gifted the fed seat(s) he now occupies. Corrupt campaigning and a subservient public is all it takes and the kissing of lots asses of his owners.

  2. If you are earning minimum wage they say you lied, if you are ignoring rules to pay an incompetent almost a half million dollars in compensation as TUSD Board members Grijalva, Foster and Juarez did for H.T. Sanchez, they only “mislead” us. Why are voters letting the Grijalva machine screw them and misappropriate tax dollars?

  3. We really cannot blame the Latinos. Just look at Foster’s campaign literature. She bragged repeatedly about all the elected office holders who endorsed her. There were a ton of Anglo office holders who endorsed her and supported Sanchez. I tried and tried to explain to some of them what was really happening in TUSD. They didn’t want to hear it and still don’t want to hear it.

    TUSD is critical to education in Tucson and to the economy in Tucson. Anyone who was clueless enough to endorse Foster and support Sanchez wasn’t paying attention and won’t get my vote, starting with the mayor.

    • No one should support the Mayor, the Metro Chamber, or SALC (of which Foster is a member). These all supported Foster and HT. At least HT and Mike Varney are gone. There is still a lot of clean up to be done to end the cronyism and corruption.

      • Tucson and Pima politicians cannot be trusted to spend our money to benefit us all. They think our tax es are meant for their use to maintain control of us. VOTE NO ON ALL Tucson and Pima Ccounty bonds and tax increases.

  4. Krystal’s re-election in part, is due to her TEA “Stepford wives” members! They come out to Board meetings when summoned by the “Mean Girls”. She was able to get some teachers in her corner by portraying herself as a classroom teacher, which she is NOT!

  5. It was not Latinos who re-elected Kristel Ann Foster, although she did get a fair share of Latino votes. Let me remind you that Cam Juarez lost his bid for re-election. He was supported by the Grijalva camp, which failed in getting him re-elected. He lost because enough facts were made public about him, such as the fact that he did not return a $5,000 contribution from a Phoenix firm which contracts with TUSD. He promised to do so but broke his word and accepted what most saw as a bribe. Foster’s votes held strongest in precincts which are predominately non-Latinos; in other words “whites.” Most of her supporters, contributors, volunteers on her campaign were white.

    Stupidity offers equal opportunity to all, including some who post here and make blatant racist comments. The Arizona Daily Independent offers great information about TUSD on a recurrent basis and the information, which is fact-based, should not be tarnished by hate-based comments which are saturated in stupidity. Having a dialogue should require some actual high order thinking rather than moving to low-level stereo-typing.

    Foster is a threat to public education, as R. Hernandez states. She is using her position as a stepping stone to a higher political position which will be supported by the Dem Party UNLESS she is found to be an unsuitable candidate. This case can be made only through facts. Race-based attacks on her will only increase the Dems support of her since one of her best roles in our community is that of victim. Let’s all, please, stick to the facts. The facts alone will discredit her and others like her.

    • Thank you for this comment.

      Ms. Foster voted to continue wasting millions in taxpayer funding fighting the desegregation order, voted against giving the plaintiff’s attorneys the compensation ordered by the courts, continues to defy the Special Master, and also took that $5,000 donation from the VP of ESI until it was found out and she was forced to give it back.

      I had one meeting with Ms. Foster once on the campaign trail, and all of her statements were ‘vote for me because we need to keep the School Board Blue, because I am a Democrat, because we’re making great progress, because we need stability’. I’m not sure that having tons of underperforming, overpaid administrators, constantly falling attendance numbers, and scandals involving bullying and grade manipulation are exactly the sort of course that Ms. Foster is proud to want to continue to chart.

      TUSD elections, as for other elections, are nonpartisan for a reason. It should be about electing the best candidate(-s), who will best serve the district, the teachers, the parents, and the students, not about political games and partisan politicking. I remain hopeful that the new board dynamic will be a positive for TUSD, but part of that hope implies the work of constant vigilance.

  6. Kristel Foster only cares about herself. She and Adelita are both harmful to kids and teachers alike.

  7. Krystal Foster is a threat to public education. She and others could careless about our children/ youth.

    It is my sense that party and special interest are the only concern this mean woman has. She is employed at Sunnyside that is my Community. I don’t want her to have anything to do with my Community.

    Since tusd voters like her so much they gave her another 4 years to distroy education I say elections have consequences.

    • I wonder why Kristel is still employed by Sunnyside. She clearly, based on the times on emails and FB, uses Sunnyside time to conduct her personal TUSD business. I believe that is embezzlement of public funds.

  8. The Early Childhood centers have continued to lose money but the Director keeps her job? Maybe she was one of HT’s special ladies? Those centers drain the budget and should be closed, or at least closely investigated, including the Director.

  9. While we should all hold Kristel responsible for her voting record, what is hard to comprehend is how can she keep a straight face while telling blatant lies on the campaign trail? Oh that’s right. She is part of the Tucson democratic machine. Which is connected to the ADS, the Tucson Weekly and The Buckmaster show. That’s part of their standard misinformation ground game. Silly me. The truth is only for the informed voters!

  10. Let me see if I got this right. The Grijalva brigade has told lies, more lies and damn lies and still has relevance in this community. How utterly pathetic that the Latino’s can’t think for themselves and get rid of the rot at the top. They don’t understand how much better off they would be if the clan was gone. Stupid voters all.

  11. Think the enrollment is down now, just wait to see the effect of closing the border and the Grijalva’s no longer having the illegals to exploit by filling the seats.

    My guess, enrollment goes down 30% in next two years.

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