Jonathan Gelbart Files for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jonathan Gelbart

Tempe, AZ (August 7, 2017) – Jonathan Gelbart, former Director of Charter School Development for the nationally top-ranked BASIS Charter Schools, today announced that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. He has resigned his position at BASIS to campaign full-time.

“I’m running for this office because nothing is more important for Arizona’s long-term success than our public education system,” Gelbart said. “And our incumbent has really engaged in dereliction of duty. We need a state schools chief with a fresh perspective, the will to fight for our public schools, and the long-term vision necessary to build the education system of the future. Our workforce is facing an oncoming freight train called automation, so business as usual isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

Gelbart has managed the opening or expansion of schools for more than 8,000 children across Arizona, including the number one public high school in America according to U.S. News & World Report. Gelbart’s efforts involved building relationships with communities from Prescott to Tucson and obtaining more than $250 million in bond funds for school construction, renovation, and expansion.

To ensure broad, ongoing feedback from education professionals, Gelbart has formed an Educators Advisory Group composed of educators and school leaders with more than 100 years of combined experience in Arizona schools. “I want our Arizona school system to be one of the best in the country, and Jonathan can help us move in that direction,” said Michele Savoia, a member of the group and a psychology teacher in the Deer Valley Unified School District for 28 years.

“Arizona has the opportunity to lead the nation in creating a more flexible education system that truly prioritizes creativity, self-motivation, and critical thinking,” Gelbart added. “Schools need to treat every child as an individual human being, not a test-taking robot.”

Gelbart was born and raised in northwest Phoenix, graduated as salutatorian from Barry Goldwater High School, and earned a master’s degree in engineering from Stanford University. His family roots in Arizona go back nearly 70 years. If elected, Gelbart would be the youngest Superintendent of Public Instruction since statehood.

About Jonathan Gelbart
Gelbart earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations and master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University in four and a half years. Through his work with the BASIS charter schools, he managed the opening of 12 campuses in Arizona and three in Texas that will serve more than 10,000 students this fall. He serves on the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute’s Millennial Council and the Tempe Neighborhood Advisory Commission. He and his newlywed wife Cara live with their rescue cattle dog mix, Kermit, at their home in Tempe.

For more information or to sign up for campaign updates, please visit www.gelbartforaz.com.

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation

Republicans Pass Budget That Raises Teacher Pay by $1,000 Above Inflation and Invests Over $300 Million in New K-12 Spending

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker J.D. Mesnard (R-17) and Senate President Steve Yarbrough (R-17) this morning applauded passage of a budget that increases teacher pay by an average of $1,000 and adds over $300 million for K-12 education.

“Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Ducey have worked hard to craft a budget that reflects Arizonans’ top priority: education,” said Speaker Mesnard.  “This budget includes a $1,000 raise beyond inflation for public school teachers, over $300 million in new K-12 spending, a massive investment in university research facilities and infrastructure, and dozens of other provisions that boost education funding.”

“Conservative budgeting over the past few years put extra money in our state coffers,” said President Yarbrough.  “With that, this year we boosted teacher paychecks, provided funding for school repairs and the construction of six new schools, targeted tens of millions of dollars to schools getting results, guaranteed yearly funding for university building projects and provided an additional $30 million to repair our roads.  We also delivered a broad-based tax cut and left the state with a structurally-balanced budget.  I’d say the people of Arizona are better off because of this state budget.”

Highlights of the budget:

·         In addition to inflation and growth increases, directs $68 million over two years for an average $1,000 raise for public school teachers.

·         Appropriates $62.9 million for new school construction projects.

·         Provides $37.6 million for Results-Based Funding for K-12 education.

·         Offsets the impact of Prop. 206 on the developmentally disabled community by directing $45 million to the Department of Economic Security and AHCCCS.

·         Demonstrates a commitment to rural transportation by appropriating $30 million to the Highway User Revenue Fund.

·         Appropriates $27 million to provide debt service to allow universities to construct new facilities through bonding that could exceed $1 billion in value in future years.

The Jana Jackson Saga Continues

This past week Sonoran Alliance reported that Janifer “Jana” Jackson, a candidate for the Superintendent of Maricopa County schools, has a serious ghost in her closet that voters deserve to know about. Years ago, when she was living in Indiana, she was taken to court over “check deception.” The plot twist? She failed to appear in court and subsequently had a warrant out for her arrest (see case number 53C06-9309-CM-04018).

Today, however, we are ready to divulge that this was actually neither the first nor the last time Jackson was charged with a crime, taken to court, and failed to show up. To be exact, while she was living in Indiana, she failed to appear in court on six other occasions. See the end of the article for the case numbers for further information.  

These cases range from Jackson being taken to court by her former home-county, the Monroe County Bank, the Bloomington Herald Times, all the way to being sued by the State of Indiana. Ladies and gentlemen, this may be the year of the outsider to run for office, but it is not the year of the criminal. We must hold our elected officials to a higher standard, especially those who influence our children, their education, and their subsequent futures. Jana Jackson is absolutely unqualified to be the next Superintendent of Public Instruction for Maricopa County.

 

Case numbers: 53C05-5903-SC-00591, 53C05-9408-CP-00841,  53C01-9405-CP-00556,  53C02-9311-SC-03072, 53C06-9311-CP-01378, and 53C03-9308-CP-00940.

Jana Jackson: The Wrong Choice for Superintendent of Maricopa County Schools

Amidst this year’s biggest political races ranging from Arizona’s heated U.S. Senate race to different Congressional races, we often overlook other, important elections. For example, the election for Maricopa County Schools’ next superintendent is absolutely critical to the county and all of our children. According to Wikipedia, Maricopa county is the “most populous county in the state, and the fourth-most populous in the United States. It is more populous than 23 states.” These statistics only add to the increasing importance of electing the right person for the job, which in our opinion is not Jana Jackson.

Why, you ask? Because as an education leader for this nation’s 4th largest county and someone who will influence our children’s’ futures, we expect nothing short of complete honesty and integrity. Let’s start off with this simple requirement: we expect the Superintendent to never have a warrant out for his or her arrest due to failing to appear in court for charges of any kind. Janifer “Jana” Jackson, previously Janifer Mayden, would not fulfil such a requirement back when she lived in Indiana (click link to see more). Besides, “check deception” is not exactly a speeding ticket or two… this is a serious charge. A charge which Jackson evidently avoided and ran from seeing as she never appeared in court.

We all make mistakes, yes. However, what sort of example would Jackson be setting for our children and for the county if she is elected? This is not a record suitable for a public official in charge of our schools.

Robb: Prop. 123 – what’s best for Arizona schools?

Robert Robb, The Republic | azcentral.com
http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/robertrobb/2016/05/11/prop-123-vote-yes/84191600/

Should getting more money to Arizona schools be this hard?

If Proposition 123 passes next Tuesday, schools will get a lot of additional dough. And quickly.

Schools would get an additional $224 million the very next month, June. And an additional $230 million over the next fiscal year (July 2016 through June 2017). So, a total of $454 million over the next 13 months.

Education organizations representing teachers, administrators, school boards and parents are supporting Prop. 123. The business community has rallied strongly behind it and provided the pro campaign with a ton of cash.

Still, what opponents lack in organization and money they are making up in hot air. And, oddly, their narrative has dominated the public debate and discussion.

The opposition narrative, however, is based mostly on material misrepresentations and wishful thinking about alternatives. So, it’s worth revisiting some Prop. 123 basics.

Why are we voting on this, anyway?

Prop. 123 settles a lawsuit brought by some schools over the failure of the state to increase the base level, the starting point of the basic state aid formula, to reflect inflation for four years following the recession.

According to opponents, the courts have ordered the Legislature to increase the base level by $337 million and the Legislature has ignored the order. That’s a fundamentally dishonest description of the status of the litigation.

At issue is the maintenance of effort requirement in Proposition 301, referred by the Legislature in 2000 and approved by voters. Prop. 301 increased the sales tax by six-tenths of a percent and earmarked the proceeds for education. It also required the state to increase the base level for basic state aid to reflect inflation, up to 2 percent.

The schools filed the lawsuit in 2010. The first Superior Court judge to hear the case found that the Legislature owed nothing. That the people, acting in their legislative capacity, couldn’t bind a future Legislature acting in its legislative capacity.

$337 million or $75 million? That’s the fight

The schools appealed. Ultimately, the Arizona Supreme Court found that the Legislature had to abide by the maintenance of effort requirement. But the Supreme Court didn’t order that the state pay any specific amount. Instead, it remanded the case to Superior Court.

There is now a legal dispute over how to calculate the inflation adjustment. For three years during the 2000s, the base level was increased by more than inflation.

The Legislature says that these supplemental increases shouldn’t count in calculating what is owed today. Since the Supreme Court decision, it has appropriated what it maintains is owed, roughly an additional $75 million a year.

The schools maintain that if the Legislature increases the base level by more than inflation in any particular year, that just ratchets up the base for future inflation adjustments. That yields the $337 million number.

Schools get more in this deal than lawmakers

Another Superior Court judge found in favor of the schools. The Legislature has appealed. Rather than continue to litigate, a settlement midwifed by Gov. Doug Ducey’s office was reached.

Under the settlement, schools will receive nearly $300 million more in annual funding, or much closer to the position of the schools than the Legislature. There’s a reason the schools regard the settlement as a win.

Part of the settlement funding comes from an increase in distributions from the state land trust. The distribution is set forth in the Arizona Constitution. Changing it requires a constitutional amendment. The Arizona Constitution can only be changed with a vote of the people. Hence Prop. 123.

If Prop. 123 fails, the $454 million goes away

If Prop. 123 passes, schools will receive an additional $3.5 billion over 10 years. Of that amount, $2.2 billion would come from the additional distribution from the trust. The state general fund would be responsible for $1.3 billion.

And if Prop. 123 fails?

Here’s what we know for certain. The additional state land distribution will not occur.

As a litigation strategy, the Legislature would probably continue appropriating the $75 million that is owed as it calculates inflation.

The settlement obligates it to appropriate an additional $50 million a year for five years and $75 million a year for the five years after that. That obligation would go away.

The schools would not receive an additional $454 million over the next 13 months.

Other than that, everything is uncertain.

The litigation would presumably resume. How long it would take and what the outcome would be is speculation.

Surplus is gone and tax cuts aren’t enough

The breezy claim that there are easy alternatives to getting schools the same or more money is obfuscation.

The surplus? It’s gone. The Legislature spent it in the last budget, partly on education and partly on other stuff, such as the Department of Child Safety.

Delay tax cuts? According to legislative budgeteers, there is just $124 million in new and phased-in tax cuts scheduled for the next fiscal year. So, that’s $330 million short of what Prop. 123 will produce in the same period of time.

Taxes can be increased. I’m all for it. I’ve been advocating a general fund tax increase since it was clear that the temporary 1 percent sales tax wasn’t going to be an adequate bridge from the recession’s decimation of state revenues.

But the schools are owed a measure of political realism. Should increased funding for them be based on a bet that defeat of Prop. 123 will change Ducey’s mind about taxes or that a Legislature willing to increase taxes will be elected this November? That’s a very bad bet.

Prop. 123 doesn’t stop larger funding talk

And here’s the most perplexing thing about the opposition to Prop. 123: Its passage doesn’t preclude any of the alternatives opponents claim to prefer. Nothing about passage of Prop. 123 prevents the election of what opponents would regard as a better Legislature and governor. Passage of Prop. 123 doesn’t preclude a broader education funding initiative in 2018.

In fact, a broader discussion of education funding is inevitable. The expiration of Prop. 301’s sales tax in 2021 makes it unavoidable.

In the meantime, if Prop. 123 passes, the schools would be getting more money at a time they really need it.

And at a time they have been shortchanged not only by the general fund, but also by the state land trust. Since 2000, the trust has retained rather than distributed $1.7 billion in earnings. Prop. 123 mostly requires the trust to disgorge earnings that the schools should have been receiving all along.

Money goes to public – not private – schools

The schools are both the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and the beneficiaries of the trust. If they think the settlement is fair and increased distribution from the trust is appropriate, shouldn’t some deference be paid to that? Opponents who say continue the litigation or get the money from some other source are claiming they know what’s best for schools better than those who run them or teach in them. A bit of hubris there.

There is a lot of politics in the opposition. Opponents fear that passage of Prop. 123 will enable the agenda of Ducey and GOP legislators to cut taxes and increase assistance to charter and private schools. But they have the analysis backwards.

The settlement appropriates an additional $625 million over the next 10 years from the general fund to public schools based upon enrollment. If Prop. 123 is defeated, that money is up for grabs.

Voting down Prop. 123 won’t punish lawmakers

And then there is the emotional gravamen. For many opponents, Prop. 123 isn’t really a school finance measure. It’s a referendum on Ducey and the GOP Legislature.

In this view, a yes vote means that Ducey and the Legislature are doing a good job on education. A no vote means that they aren’t.

But that’s also massively unfair to schools. Prop. 123 is a school finance measure. If it is defeated, nothing bad happens to Ducey and the Legislature. But the schools lose $454 million over the next 13 months.

Passage of Prop. 123 gets the schools more money and settles a lawsuit. Its defeat guarantees nothing and provides a pathway to nowhere.

Reach Robb at robert.robb@arizonarepublic.com.

Former Sen Jon Kyl: Let’s Debunk The Myth That Prop. 123 Will Hurt Us

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Former senator: I’m baffled by claims that Proposition 123 will do irreparable harm to Arizona’s permanent fund.[/pullquote]

I strongly support Prop. 123 and am baffled by opposition to it, most of which seems to claim it will do irreparable harm to the state’s permanent fund.

Jon KylThis simply isn’t true.

To help Arizona transition from a frontier territory to the 48th state, the federal government turned over to the new state about 11 million acres of land, to be held in trust for the support of public needs, the first and foremost of which was K-12 education.

The state accomplishes that role by selling and leasing state trust lands to produce revenue. The revenue from the sale of state trust lands are deposited into Arizona’s permanent fund. The money in the permanent fund is then invested by the state in stocks, bonds and other investments and produce additional returns.

We’re dipping into interest, not the fund

Arizona’s permanent fund is currently worth about $5 billion, and the trust earns money each year, with an average rate of return over 6.9 percent for the past 10 years.

Right now, 2.5 percent of the value of the permanent trust fund is distributed on an annual basis to beneficiaries like K-12 public schools. Voting “yes” on Prop. 123 would increase the distribution amount to 6.9 percent (roughly $342 million per year) from 2.5 percent (roughly $125 million per year) for a period of 10 years.

Given that the permanent fund has averaged a rate of return in excess of this proposed 6.9 percent distribution for the past 10 years, which includes the depths of this past recession, we should view Prop. 123 as an agreement to distribute the anticipated interest from the permanent fund to the trust beneficiaries – and not as an agreement to dip into the $5.1 billion corpus of the permanent fund.

Trust also includes $70 billion in land

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the trust is composed not only of the $5.1 billion in the permanent fund, but also of the value of the remaining state trust lands, which have a current estimated value of some $70 billion.

As urban growth has reached formerly outlying areas of state trust land, it stands to reason that this value will very likely increase in future years as expanding infrastructure and growth drive values to those lands.

Using $3.5 billion of that combined $75 billion of value over the next 10 years to help educate our K-12 kids is hardly a wasteful dissipation of the trust assets. Indeed, the combined values of the state trust lands and permanent trust fund should very well be even greater in 10 years based on current and expected trends. In any event, the myth of destruction of the trust needs to be exposed.

Why not put this cash to better use?

Prop. 123 does not mandate the sale of any part of the land being held in trust for K-12. That asset will continue to be managed in the best manner possible to provide for this generation of students as well as future generations.

Prop. 123 does put appropriate pressure on the state to ensure it performs its role in producing a quality revenue stream to support the intended beneficiaries of the trust, including our K-12 system.

Here is my question. From what do we get greater value: sitting on the assets in the trust (earning a bit), or investing $3.5 billion to better educate millions of Arizona kids today?

An educated citizenry is the best guarantee of economic growth and societal health. In other words, this human capital will be much more valuable for the state than keeping the assets in the trust, which is supposed to exist to help educate our youth.

In addition, this funding will also satisfy a legal obligation resulting from court decisions holding that the state government had not devoted sufficient appropriations to K-12 education in the past. Without Prop. 123, it is likely a tax increase would be necessary to meet this legal obligation.

Let us keep in mind that the trust was intended from the beginning to provide support for our K-12 system. Rather than allowing the trust to continue to underfund our current students, we should support Prop. 123 and put those funds to work in our classrooms now.

Former U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl is senior counsel at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. 

Prop 123 Proponents Make Their Case on Arizona PBS’ Horizon

Advocates for Proposition 123 appeared on KAET’s Horizon on Monday evening to make the case for passage of Prop 123. Here is the video of that show featuring Chris Thomas, General Counsel for the Arizona School Boards Association:

Poll: Prop 123 Shows Strong Numbers With Early Voting Underway

Predictive Insights

Bi-partisan support for prop 123

PHOENIX (April 27, 2016) — Arizona’s special election for two statewide initiatives including the education bill, Proposition 123, will be voted on May 17th, 2016.

In a survey of 665 likely special election voters, 59.7 percent said they would vote in favor of Prop 123.

Prop 123 – Education Funding
April 25, 2016 Results
Definitely Yes 38.5%
Probably Yes 21.2%
Probably No 9%
Definitely No 24.4%
Unsure/Undecided 6.9%

“Early indicators show strong support for Proposition 123 across all demographics,” Mike Noble, Pollster & Managing Partner of OH Predictive Insights said, “It is surprising to see only 6.9% of likely voters are undecided which tells us voters are keenly aware of the measure.  If you hear someone talking about this next time you are in-line at the grocery store – don’t be surprised.”

Wes Gullett, Partner in OH Predictive Insights and political consultant was impressed that the Yes vote is strong across all demographics and was cautiously positive about the results. “Democrats, Republicans and Independents are all voting yes close to 60%.  However, with ballot measures typically the ‘No’ vote does a better than the polling on election day so the Yes side needs to have a strong turnout of supporters over the next three weeks,” Gullett said.

Methodology: This automated survey was completed by OH Predictive Insights on April 25th, 2016, from a sample of likely special election voters from across Arizona who first answered they were “likely” or “very likely” to vote in the 2016 May 17th special election in Arizona. The sample size was 665 completed surveys, with a Margin of Error of ± 3.8%

VIDEO: Parents are rallying behind Prop 123

Here is the latest ad by Prop 123 showing parents rallying behind the measure to get more money in their children’s classrooms.

Parents are rallying behind Prop 123 because it will put $3.5 billion into the classroom over the next 10 years. It will help Arizona schools pay teachers what they deserve and ensure our students have the resources they need in the classroom.
Share this video with a parent you know, so they know that a YES vote on Prop 123 is our best chance to improve our public schools.

WATCH: Get Out The Vote For Prop 123

Did you get your early ballot in the mail?

When you do, vote YES on Prop 123, and put it right back in your mailbox. If you plan to vote on Election Day, make sure you mark your calendar for May 17!

Why?

Prop 123 will put $3.5 billion into K-12 public schools over the next 10 years without raising your taxes. That’s money our kids and teachers need to succeed in the classroom.

Today, the campaign released a new video with parents, grandparents and teachers urging you to vote YES on Prop 123. It’s a common-sense solution that better uses our state land trust for its intended purpose: funding our public schools. And it protects the trust, which will still grow by $1 billion over 10 years if Prop 123 passes.

Can we count on you to vote YES on Prop 123?

Team Prop 123