Murphy School Board Approves 69 Employee Contracts A Week Before School Starts

By Casey Kuhn
Published: Monday, July 30, 2018 - 9:55pm
Updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 6:44pm

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In the weeks after the Murphy Elementary School District went into receivership, major changes have happened within the schools. The board met Monday night for a ten minute governing board meeting with no call to the public and little discussion between members. One member, Robert Ellis, didn’t show up.

There was confusion on when and how to pass agenda items as the receiver guided the board — every item, however, passed.

Casey Kuhn/KJZZ
Murphy Elementary School District governing board on July 30, 2018.

That included approving contracts with 8 certified staff and 61 classified staff. The board previously rescinded a promised 4 percent raise for those same classified staff members back in July.

Superintendent Dennis Goodwin said, after the meeting, that the focus this school year will be the classroom.

“We’re actually putting the focus back where it needs to be,” Goodwin said.   

Goodwin says the district did not renew all maintenance and facilities contracts, deciding to hire back an amount that would help the budget. Several people did re-apply and got a new contract and job.

“We cut a lot of administration people here at the office," he said. "That’s a lot of money we’re not taking out of the classroom.”

Some community members remained skeptical of a receiver who can legally override the superintendent and board. After the meeting, the receiver met with several residents looking for answers, including Ruben Romero, who has three grandkids in the district.

“He gives me some type of hope that they’re gonna open up and start answering questions, but I haven't gotten them yet," Romero said. "A lot of people were wondering ‘What happened? How did we get so bad so fast?”

Romero says there's infighting within the community over how the district should be handled, and how it became a district with three schools rated a 'D' and one an 'F' by the state. 

The south Phoenix school district, which mostly serves a Hispanic population, went into receivership after a budget deficit of $500,000 last year.

Goodwin is optimistic this year will help remedy past mistakes.

“If we have some bad contracts, not with people but with businesses, the receiver is actually able to cancel them, so we can get into better terms," Goodwin said. "That’s been one of the things, I’ve been able to renegotiate better terms so we have less going out, and the same services.”

Goodwin says the district needs to fill a few open teacher positions at each of the four schools.

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