Public Education: Don’t forget the taxpayers

The scandal-plagued Scottsdale Unified School District just hired an interim superintendent, Dr. John Kriekard.

Dr. Kriekard was a longtime educator, principal, and assistant superintendent within our district, and served as superintendent of the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

Kriekard sent out an encouraging communication today:

May 16, 2018

Good Afternoon, SUSD Family,

Today marks my third day on the job as your new Acting Superintendent. This has been a homecoming for me, and I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have already extended such a warm welcome back.

As we approach the end of the school year next week, all of our focus is on a successful home stretch for our students. However, before we break, I want to share with you some of the work that will be underway this summer.

My first priority will be to restore mutual trust and confidence at all levels and among all stakeholders: students, teachers, parents, staff, administration and Governing Board. Rebuilding trust takes time, and this will be an ongoing commitment.

Additionally, SUSD will need to examine, and possibly audit, our Human Resources and Purchasing/Procurement practices. In conjunction with those reviews, it is one of my top priorities to oversee the selection and hiring of some critical personnel, including an exemplary Chief Financial Officer.

I believe successful schools and districts do three things:

  1. Treat students with respect
  2. Treat staff as professional colleagues
  3. Treat parents as partners in their students’ education

These three things are our way forward to rebuilding respect and professionalism – two words you will hear me say often. I look forward to the work ahead and to serving your students.


Dr. John Kriekard
Acting Superintendent

I replied:

Dr. Kriekard,

I humbly suggest a small addition to your messaging today.

Students, staff, and parents all deserve the respect you offer. However, in today’s  environment, it’s important to remember another group of SUSD clients: Taxpayers who may not fall into one of the three aforementioned categories.

There was a time when taxpayers with no other direct involvement in public schools appreciated the benefits of good public education. Today, those benefits are increasingly esoteric to the masses.

I suggest we all adopt a mindset and language to help remind them–and us–of the mission of public education. To that end, a fourth point:

4. Treat taxpayers of the district with respect for the funding they provide. In return, we will strive do our best to shape future generations of productive, thoughtful, fellow citizens, neighbors, and community leaders; who will help maintain and enhance our property values and our quality of life.

Good luck to you, sir. You have a big job ahead of you, and many in the community are very hopeful you will succeed!


John Washington

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