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Watchdog group to hold TUSD Board accountable

Posted at 10:21 PM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-12 06:56:02-05
Tucson Unified's Governing Board is now under scrutiny -- like it's never seen before. 
A new watchdog group has formed to hold the board accountable and it his its sight focused on three board members.
A superintendent, H.T. Sanchez, in his third year at TUSD leads a district that can't climb higher than a C grade -- based on student achievement.
Yet the superintendent received a 24% raise -- $50,000 -- in his second year. And a $142,000 year end bonus in place as an incentive to stay. His cabinet received $10,000 dollar bonuses the same year. While teachers in the trenches got a $500 raise.
All unanimously approved by the majority Governing Board -- Adelita Grijalva, Krystal Foster, and Cam Juarez.
It's those reasons, in part, that's behind the new watchdog group -- an independent expenditure committee -- that aims to hold the Governing Board accountable for the state of the district -- a district that's seeing its reserves dwindle.
Kathy Campbell,  a TUSD parent, is one member leading the charge. "I think we need to put it out there. Yes, there are issues. Here's how we fix them. This isn't something we should give up on. This is something we should fight for," said Campbell.
The other lead member is Jimmy Lovelace -- a CPA. You might remember him. He was bounced from TUSD's audit committee in 2014 after, he says, he asked tough questions about unforced errors.
Once an insider, he's now on the outside looking in and believes the board majority has the wrong priorities. "Classroom spending is under 50 percent and has continued to decline over the years," said Lovelace.
Although the superintendent set a goal to just under 51 percent by the 2015-16 school year, the Chief Financial Officer, Karla Soto, told Cavazos that the current teacher shortage makes that difficult to achieve. "And those classroom dollars is contingent upon us filling every vacancy," she said.
Back to Lovelace, who said he holds no grudge being bounced from the audit committee.
Cavazos: How do you make sure that your organization keeps from politically bias, financial biased if there's a vendetta against someone on that board. 
Lovelace: A great question. We have no vendetta. Our only agenda is to hold any current or future board accountable.
The watchdog group has launched a website "TUSD Kids" to keep the community informed. Lovelace believes the campaign will be well funded based on the support the committee has received so far. 
Lovelace said, "The committee will be vetting candidates and intends to endorse someone. But not the current board majority."
He said the committee will begin handing out bumper stickers starting this week.