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3/11/2013 6:00:00 AM
Kingman school district finance chief fires back at critics
Wanda Hubbard
Wanda Hubbard

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - KUSD Finance Director Wanda Hubbard lashed out at parents who had been questioning her about the district's financial figures for Mt. Tipton school.

"I resent the fact that there are some people in the community who think that I'm hiding something or not giving them all the numbers," she said at a district board workshop meeting last week.

The outburst came after KUSD Board member Laurie Barthlow told the board she recently sat down with Hubbard for more than two hours in order to understand how each school affected the district's finances and answer some parents' questions.

Hubbard explained that there are some budget items, such as textbooks, that the district bought in bulk through its general fund and distributed to all the schools but weren't itemized in each school's budget. So she had to guess how many of those resources went to each school by going through several different files and creating a separate spreadsheet.

Rebecca Smith, who has four children who attend Mt. Tipton and has challenged the district's figures for Mt. Tipton in the past, called Hubbard's statements "unprofessional" and said the board should have stopped her.

Smith was unable to respond to Hubbard during the meeting because it was a workshop. The public can attend workshops but cannot actively participate.

The district is facing a $1.1 million budget gap. Hubbard and KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks said the district's plan for shuffling students around and restructuring Mt. Tipton in Dolan Springs to a pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school would bring the district very close to closing the projected shortfall.

The restructuring of Mt. Tipton has been a bone of contention between the district and the community of Dolan Springs for more than three years. Parents of Mt. Tipton students have vigorously fought attempts by the district to close the school or reduce the number of grades it serves.

According to the district, restructuring the school from a pre-kindergarten through high school to pre-kindergarten through sixth grade would save the district at least $500,000.

There are currently 66 high school students at Mt. Tipton and the district spends about $13,706 on each high school student.

The district spends around $5,000 per student at Kingman High and around $11,000 per student at Lee Williams High. The cost per student at Lee Williams is expected to decrease as the school grows.

Mt. Tipton currently gets a $350,000 grant from the federal government, but that grant is expected to sunset this year.

Parent Donna Wickard presented a plan last month that she says would save the district $2.4 million by increasing enrollment, consolidating schools, moving to a four-day school week and cutting expenses by $1.45 million. It would also keep Mt. Tipton at its current designation as a pre-kindergarten through high school.

Other plans to close the budget gap call for closing La Senita Elementary School and relocating staff and students from La Senita and Palo Christi Elementary to Desert Willow Elementary. Palo Christi needs repairs to its roof, electrical and plumbing systems. Hubbard estimated the cost for the repairs to be around $2 million, Jacks said.

Relocating the students from La Senita and Palo Christi to Desert Willow is expected to save the district around $600,000. That cost savings is expected to come from staffing, although the district doesn't plan to lose any teachers in the move, Hubbard said.

The pre-kindergarten class at Palo Christi would also be moved to La Senita.

There was some good news that came out of the workshop. The district could see a one-time infusion of $480,000 from the state.

The state undercounted the number of students in the district's schools by at least 100 kids in 2010, Hubbard said. The $480,000 was a one-time payment to cover the error, she said.

However, the district was expecting to take at least a $450,000 hit in funding from the federal sequestration, Hubbard said.

Because the meeting was a workshop, the KUSD School Board did not take any action. The final decision on how the budget gap will be filled will be made during the board's regular meeting on March 12.



ICT - Hummingbead of Kingman
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• Alternate Mt. Tipton proposal put forth
• Mount Tipton, other schools face changes


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Article comment by: One Who Knows

The school district has indeed been under increasing budgetary pressures since around 1995. Now ask, what took place then? Political shifting in our state that set out to "privatize" our schools and break unions. In order to accomplish this the Charter School system was established and fully-funded by our state legislature. In 1995, KAOL was born (ironically by a retired Kingman public school principal).

It is very clear that KAOL has had a major negative impact on our schools Perhaps Ms Hubbard could confirm the fact that up to the opening of KAOL KUSD consistently qualified for the state's "Sudden Growth" funds. KAOL directly eliminated sudden growth funds for KUSD. These funds helped the district continually produce a strong product. Our public schools prior to KAOL were consistently among the top in the state. Look it up - the Miner has plenty of articles prior to 1995 showing what outstanding schools we had. The "Charter School" system has pulled funding out of the public schools, has pulled many of our top students out, has helped to decrease the effectiveness of our teachers by increasing the student-teacher ration (while continually keeping KAOL teacher-pupil ratio low), and has increased the budgetary strain on our schools.

It is time to demand the state stop transferring funds from public schools to charter schools. Or at the very least, since we are paying for KAOL, demand admission be opened up to all our youth on a first come, first serve basis. Let us "equalize" the funding we tax payers are paying to educate ALL our young students.


Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Article comment by: Justin Observer

Ms. Wickerd doesn't mind doling out accusations, but then herself "lashes out" when she's the subject of criticism. Her only concern is Mt. Tipton. There are several other schools being discussed here, and they affect the ENTIRE community. The problem is that the Miner should have done its own investigation or not given so much ink to a single parent's opinions, especially when her background is in teaching and not finance. Just because someone is loud and opinionated doesn't mean they are educated on the subject and deserve several articles touting their "plan."

Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Article comment by: Donna Wickerd

@Lynneah TESSMAN

I am an excellent teacher and all of my students will vouch for me. I am officially asking you to cease and desist accusing me of being fired or otherwise failing in my profession.

I also request that any statement made about me being fired or failing as a teacher be recognized by the moderator of kdminer as the libel/slander that they are and to cease and desist approving them for posting


Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"tailored the classroom itinerary and guides to give students enough time in class to do their homework"

I don't have a dog in this fight....but please explain why HOMEwork would be completed in class...when the children were supposed to be being taught? Maybe in a study hall (if they still have that) but not during class.

Sounds like a lazy teacher who wants to grade papers or prep for another class while the students are doing "home"work.


Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Not True

@ Crystal G

"you are not only cutting the time the children get to rest but also the time spent on homework."

I don't know about your kids or your school, but every year my kids were in school, the teachers tailored the classroom itinerary and guides to give students enough time in class to do their homework. If your kids are not getting it done, then it's the student fault, not the teachers.


Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Just Another Thought

Everyone is so quick to judge another or put down another. Wanda Hubbard has done an amazing job and kept a district solvent when others are going bankrupt. When times are good everyone is singing her praise - when times are tough she should quit.
Why not add value to an education. Instead of the state funding the all of the bill why don't parents pay some of the way either financially or through volunteer work at the schools.
How much time do Wickerd or Smith volunteer at the school they want to keep open. How much of the budget goes to replacing textbooks destroyed or lost by students. How much of the budget goes to repairing schools caused by student damage. A lot needs to be fixed in our educational system. Stop putting down the district, the teachers and actually start being a part of the solution. Maybe that is why KAOL is successful, they ensure parents are involved.
Do you realize the teachers have not had a pay raise in years and with the increasing cost of benefits some make less than they did several years ago. I bet some even qualify for free and reduced lunches for their kids. Whats wrong with that picture.
So, start with the positives and stop all the put downs and judgements or step up and put somehting concrete out there to really show a way to make a change. Just another question - how much of the plan presentedlast year for Dolan was actually followed through with?


Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

Don't call Wanda Hubbard, call Doris Goodale and ask why the legislature continues to cut taxes for special interests, continues to funnel money to "school choice", while neglecting the basic public schools that 85% of the State "choose"? This is not KUSD's problem, it is Doris Goodale's, and Kelli Ward's. Tell them to do the right thing for a change.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Lynneah TESSMAN

Before you make comments on something you have no idea about - ATTEND BOARD MEETINGS (I KNOW THAT I DON'T SEE MANY OF YOU THERE), INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING COME UP WITH A REALISTIC PLAN OF ATTACK NOT JUST FINGER POINTING LIKE THIS TOWN IS GOOD AT - - BE REAL PEOPLE....

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Mrs Castro

If you do not like the fact you are getting backlash from the community then put in your resignation and put somebody in that spot who can actually answer a simple question about finances and not guess. Spreadsheets have mulitple cells which means you CAN figure out how much for books etc.. goes to Mt Tipton. For the sake of the district and our children, Ms. Hubbard you really need to go.

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Colby V.

This "shake-up" does not just affect Mt. Tipton it affects almost every elementary school student In the district. Some with special needs. the school board already seems to have made their decision. If they had been more fiscally responsible previously($80,000,000 bond) this may not have been as much of a problem. I do not blame Ms. Hubbard for the problem. But, I do not understand why the School Board is not exploring more solutions. Why should the children be held accountable for problems out of their control?

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Article comment by: Crystal G

Not at all in this article does it say the effect of the learning and behavior of the children. The longer the bus the earlier the pick up and drop off. If you wake up to get on the bus at 4 or 5 in the morning and don't get home til about 5 or 6 at night then you are not only cutting the time the children get to rest but also the time spent on homework. So grades will decrease and drop outs increase. Why don't they take that into consideration. Would they want to do it? The school board or anyone for that matter.

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: And the 1% just laughs

While wealthy executives rathole more loophole company profits and million dollar bonuses to the Cayman Islands, they have to just be cackling at the little people who get into fist fights over which public school is going to get closed down.

Keep asking to protect the tax breaks of Scottdale millionaires, while your own school district suffocates in revenue loses.

What a state.


Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Another Thought

You all need to get real! The districts budget has been taking a hit every year for at least the last ten years or more. Some of it the state redirects it to meet their needs, and then you have the GOP that continues to want to make more cuts to education programs and budgets. If Donna Wickard has a plan, and it takes everything into account (not just what she has access too), then by all means present it to the board. All they can do is say no!

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Mrs. Castro

If Wanda Hubbard is resentful about what the public thinks about her then she needs to leave! There is still a looming audit sone from a elementary school where she tried to cover it up when it was exposed along with the principal from the school in question. The problems with this district is the fact that the district hires second class, non knowledgeable teachers. They fire the ones who needs to stay. Enrollm ent is down because parents are tired of the bullying and out of control behavor and a district who cares nothing about them. KUSD Board, you need to wake up and do it quick. There is alot going on and you are so clueless to the administrators who are running this district. Cover-up is a big no no!!!!

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: R H

Explaining your budget is part of your job , cranky !.

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: C. A. Rivera-Miller

[Comment deleted for excessive length]

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Former KUSD Teacher

I taught at KHS for five years. While KUSD has many problems, Ms. Hubbard is not one of them. She has done a fantastic job of keeping the district solvent throughout one financial crisis after another.

She has every right to be angry.


Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

Reading this article gave me a sense of Ms. Hubbard more than she could possibly know. It's this type of arrogance that cause people to became outright defensive, combative and just plain mad. How darn she take a position that she is offended. Lady get real. Your attitude affects kids and community. You've been shown a plan by Ms Wickard...use it. or explain why you can't. Seems pretty simple, if you take the attitude out of it.

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Origional Kingman Resident

@Denise

"If any of you live in a very rural setting as MANY of Mohave County residents do you know the horror of busing children for lengthy periods of time."

Then why does your plan rely on visiting this "horror" on children whose parents made the decision to live in the city where it is convenient to travel to school?


Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: A Parent

[Comment deleted for excessive length.]

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
Article comment by: Denise Bensusan

"Parent Donna Wickard presented a plan last month that she says would save the district $2.4 million by increasing enrollment, consolidating schools, moving to a four-day school week and cutting expenses by $1.45 million. It would also keep Mt. Tipton at its current designation as a pre-kindergarten through high school."

WOW, someone with a plan! Mrs. Wickerd did not just complain and accuse she came up with a plan that appears to assist in keeping the schools open.

If any of you live in a very rural setting as MANY of Mohave County residents do you know the horror of busing children for lengthy periods of time. It doesn't work. It is added stress on the backs of already very stressed out school children and teachers who deal with those same kids.

This will also effect the property values of ALL property owners in that area. A school is a magnet for growth and removing schools will only depress an already depressed market. As a matter of fact in the past few years many developers who came before the P and Z and the BOS to RE-zone properties claimed strongly that this area was going to see excellent growth in the next few years due to the Hoover Dam bypass. These investors also appeared ready and able to implement that growth and thus improve property values throughout the area and even (supposedly) create jobs and pump income/monies into Mohave County.

If there is a transparency problem between the finance director and the people of Mohave County then that matter must be corrected.

denisebensusan@speakoutarizona.com





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