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n December of 2016, after being on the School Board for less than a year, I wrote a letter to the editor similar to this one. It began with, “Our community and our School Board have some bad habits…” Unfortunately, we are still exhibiting some of those bad habits. Please consider my comments and join me in trying to do better. More than ever, our kids and our community’s health and success are at stake.

In early 2017, the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board learned that additional compensation and benefits for some employees were paid without the Governing Board’s knowledge or approval (unbeknownst to the administrators). Once known to the Governing Board, the Governing Board and Dr. Anderson, the newly appointed Superintendent, took immediate and on-going corrective and remedial action. Expert legal advice was procured and followed.

By Arizona statute, personnel matters are to be discussed in executive session, unless the employee requests the discussion to occur in open meeting. While some may not agree with this, with the argument being that employees are paid with tax dollars, it is the law. It can be frustrating, both from a Board member, as well as a community member perspective, not to be able to discuss the details of these executive sessions.

It is irrelevant who discovered the information that started the process. What is relevant is that it was immediately addressed. I believe the Board reached the right decisions at that time that were in the best interest of our kids and our community.

The Attorney General’s investigation was independent of district processes. The district fully complied with the AG’s office during the course of their investigation. The culmination of these processes is a testament to how much our district has achieved over the last two and half years. As a community, we should be celebrating these achievements.

Unfortunately, when issues and decisions become difficult, we continue to foster division. Given the state of our nation’s politics and our state’s inability to prioritize quality public education for our children, we are who we’ve got. We must take the actions necessary to make sure our children succeed, make certain our teachers are provided with the tools necessary to ensure the preservation of our community, and have our local politics be something that builds rather than destroys.

We cannot get and should not get stuck here. Our kids and our community are too important. The job of our community is to do the best thing for OUR kids – every single one of the students attending AJUSD currently and for the generations to come. They will shape the future of our community. We MUST keep moving forward, fight the distraction and self-inflicted wounds and be the leaders our kids need.

We must keep focus on OUR kids, OUR community – REACHING for the Future TOGETHER!

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