Gilbert Public Schools School Board

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce is invested in identifying those candidates who will best represent the interests of the business community while serving in office. As such, we invited all candidates to respond to both written and video-response questionnaires which address a variety of issues impacting our businesses. These responses, as well as consideration for each candidate's demonstrated actions, were scored to issue a letter grades.

We recognize the need for well-rounded, knowledgeable elected leaders. We encourage our membership to reach out to candidates and to access available resources in an effort to cast an informed and confident vote.

When it comes to business issues, how do you rate the candidates? Click here to download a scoring worksheet for GPS Governing Board candidates.

The following candidate did not participate in written responses:

  • Ronda Page (2 Year)

Trina Jonas (4 Year)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: TrinaForGPS@gmail.com
  • Community of Residence: Whitewing at Wiehl Estate
  • How many years have you lived in this community: 8 years
  • Name of Employer: Self Employed
  • Occupation or Title: Licensed Realtor with eXp Realty
  • Campaign website or social media account:
    • FB Trina Jonas for Gilbert Public Schools
  • Brief Summary of Employment History:
    • eXp Realty - Realtor/Business Owner for the past 5 years
    • Nonprofit Consulting & Grant Writing - Independent Contractor
    • Co-Owner/Designer, Baby Jayne’s Inc. - made and designed baby bedding, sold in retail stores in LA
    • Regional Community Development Director, American Cancer Society
    • Fundraising Manager, American Cancer Society
    • Marketing & Promotions Director of Olympic Sports, Brigham Young University
  • Educational Background:
    • Master of Public Administration- Emphasis in Nonprofit Organizations, University of Utah
    • Bachelor of Arts--Marketing Communications; Business Management Minor, Brigham Young University
  • Community organizations to which you belong or regularly support:
    • Junior League of Phoenix, Sustaining Member
    • Gilbert Public School’s Volunteer Network (Vnet)- Current Vice President of Training & Vendors
    • Greenfield Elementary PTSO- former President, secretary, sponsorship chair, art masterpiece chair, site council member, current Valentine Gram Chair
    • Greenfield Junior High PTRO- current President
    • Highland High School- Volleyball Boosters (former Vice President), Girls Golf Booster (incoming President), site council liaison to the district
    • Gilbert American Little League
    • AZ Arsenal Soccer Club
    • Whitewing Homeowners Association Board The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Questionnaire Responses

1. Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Governing School Board. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

1. I have a unique and valuable interest and perspective as a result of the myriad of ways I am connected to/involved with GPS and the overall community: I am a mother with children in all 3 levels of GPS (elementary, junior high, and high school) that understands first-hand the needs and challenges of families and children at different stages. I am a small business owner/entrepreneur that understands the need for strong and stable schools to make a community thrive. I am also deeply passionate about volunteerism, community involvement and community service in general (see my education and work history in this field). These intersecting interests have led me to volunteer in our school community at almost every level for years on end—classroom volunteer, Art Masterpiece teacher, PTSO/PTRO leadership positions, (multiple) school site-council representative, ELA adoption committee, and training school district volunteers through Vnet are just a few examples. In doing this work, I regularly interact with a wide variety of people and programs in our community and learn first-hand of the various challenges, successes, and opportunities that our families, faculty, and staff experience. These activities and interactions provide me with very unique experience, knowledge, and ultimately, expertise, in regard to what is happening in our District and what challenges we face. Thoroughly understanding the diverse stakeholder perspectives is a key first step to bringing people together to solve problems and I believe I have worked to obtain the best perspective of all the candidates.

2. I have formal, post-graduate education in public administration, real-life professional experience working in the nonprofit sector, and currently work in the private sector. This unique blend of specialized education, skills and experience has provided me the tools needed to get things done efficiently and effectively in a public setting. There are a lot of unique challenges and benefits to government and nonprofit organizations that traditional for-profit business acumen doesn’t help solve. Conversely, career politicians/public sector employees may better understand the nuance of public administration, but they can often lack the drive for efficiency and effectiveness that private sector stakeholders demand. I uniquely straddle the two worlds. Understanding public funding, hiring practices, and board best practices, for example, will help me be more successful and make a more immediate impact when serving. Likewise, private sector lessons on the reality of budgets, customer needs/demands/choice, and the importance of taking care of your employees (in this case, faculty and staff) will make outcomes more successful. Ultimately, I will be more efficient and effective than other candidates that don’t have these skills and experience.

3. I have a proven track record of using a collaborative approach to problem solving. I believe great ideas can come from anywhere or anyone, regardless of demographic or political persuasion. As such, I love bringing people together to brainstorm and come up with solutions for issues we are facing. I am passionate about inclusivity and making sure people feel involved, feel a part of the community, and feel they are part of the solution. Using this type of inclusion and collaboration, along with the skills noted above, the many volunteer groups or committees I have led have had exceptional results. While some candidates may say they ‘will’ or ‘hope’ to bring people together, I have actually done it, and in multitude of settings. I believe that track record will allow me, more than any other candidate, to more effectively bring people together to solve problems and move the District forward.

2. What is your vision for the school district in the next 20 to 30 years?

Vibrant and successful schools are the corner stone of every community. I think it’s imperative that Gilbert Public Schools continue to grow and adapt to our ever-changing community and world. We have been transitioning from a rural community full of farms to a thriving successful town that has seen tremendous growth in business, development, and population. Our public schools need to continue utilizing technology to help complement and enhance education. I also think it’s important to focus even more on preparing our students for the workforce post-graduation, not just college bound options. In the next 20 years, I would love for Gilbert Public Schools to be the premier school district in the state—one that attracts the best talent, effectively and efficiently utilizes funds, and produces the most successful students who are prepared for jobs and life post-high school.

3. What actions do you feel will be necessary to help kids catch up in academics and in the social-emotional wellbeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

Learning loss from the pandemic and school closures is the biggest challenge schools and families are facing right now. One of the first- and most-time consuming steps is assessing the loss. Each child will have a different amount of learning loss, and on varied topics. In order to specifically address the loss, we first need to see the extent of the problem we’re dealing with and then figure out how to help each child address the specific issues their having. Utilizing technology to help teachers quickly identify which children need what help so then strategies can be developed to address these needs is an important first step. Once specifics are identified, then we can create solutions around those problems. One current need in the district is additional staff, which is especially needed to help students who are behind and need more one-on-one attention. Unfortunately, staffing issues are plaguing our community and nation. Additional strategies need to be identified. For example, the District has recently launched an online tutoring program for grades 7-12. We will be looking to see how this program is received and used to see if this might be a good longer-term solution to help support teachers and students despite staffing shortages. This might be something that can be expanded or may need to be adapted to be more successful.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is the emotional and mental health crisis our children are facing. Modern day technology (e.g. social media) is tough enough, and the lengthy school closures during the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. The District needs to find a way to identify children who need the most help, and provide more assistance overall in discussing mental health, coping techniques, and emotional support. Teachers and counselors are doing a tremendous job of this, but the need is so great that it is overwhelming. I think additional strategies need to be identified and a more strategic approach put into place.

4. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the governing school board and how will these priorities further the advancement of education and the schools within your district?

1) Identify ways/areas to increase funding and make a strategic plan on how to achieve this.

2) Help reduce learning loss and get students district-wide back at or above pre-pandemic learning levels.

3) Identify and facilitate increased participation and representation by all stakeholders (teachers, staff, parents, and students) in providing meaningful feedback and involvement in/to the District.

I believe these goals address some of the primary concerns in our community. Achieving these objectives would help our District advance education and the success of our community. Funding is critical to growth and being able to attract the best talent to our District. It’s also necessary in helping provide the best education possible for our children in an ever-changing environment. Recovery from pandemic learning loss is critical to helping our children get back on track to successful and productive futures. The partnership between parents, teachers, and students has always been the cornerstone to learning success. Strengthening these partnerships and ensuring that all have a voice in our community will help strengthen student success, particularly on the heels of a very unique period in time where many parents felt (and may still feel) disenfranchised

5. What issues do you see with the current system of funding education in the State of Arizona? What changes, if any, would you propose be made to the current funding system?

Our state education funding model is very complicated and outdated. I think the process needs to be streamlined, and made easier to understand and implement. I also think we need to do more to address funding issues for those with special needs. I hope this is something the legislature addresses soon.

6. Do you have experience with complex budgets? Do you feel the district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability?

I do have experience with complex budgets and from a variety of areas. I’ve worked with budgets from large nonprofits like the American Cancer Society, to HOA boards, PTSO groups, and running my own business. (My husband is also a MBA/CPA/CFO so that never hurts when trying to learn more with budgets!) The District has done a good job in recent years of positioning itself for long-term sustainability. Under the leadership of Dr. McCord and Bonnie Betz, they have worked to shore up roll over funds that are helping to fund future years which were impacted by student loss from the pandemic. They have been very thoughtful and strategic with the recent staff raises and made sure that they could be continued into future years, which is difficult to do given the state funding formulas. They have tried to invest the one-time covid grants money in meaningful ways specific to addressing learning loss. While the District has improved dramatically in the last several years, I think there could be an improvement in the areas of transparency, accountability, and intentional investment.

7. How would you propose to interact with your constituents (including the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce) to ensure that they understood what was happening at the Governing Board level and had an opportunity to voice their opinions?

As previously mentioned, I am passionate about the partnership between parents, teachers, students and staff. This is critical to the overall success of our students. Input and interaction between not only these stakeholders, but also the community and our business community is important. All board members are supposed to be liaisons to various community partners and stakeholders. I think these relationships could be widened and strengthened so that they could be a more effective avenue for voicing opinions and providing input. Because I have children at all levels within the district and am very involved in the community via the school programs, sports and activities, I do naturally and organically get a lot of feedback from parents and stakeholders. I also get to see and feel first-hand the effect of district policies and decision making with my own children. Besides this, I would be available via email and phone to discuss issues as they arise and via my Facebook page specifically dedicated to the School Board. I would continue being involved in our community in a variety of ways as I do now and have always done.

8. Please explain the difference in roles between the Governing Board and the school superintendent on overall education policy.

The role of the governing board and the superintendent is determined by state statute. The Governing Board is a board that has legal authority to set policy and priorities and evaluate the outcomes of the district operations. The Superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district, providing leadership, and identifying the needs in the district.

9. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

I am running for school board at this time simply because I deeply care about our kids, our schools, and our community. The past few years have brought some very unique challenges to our district. I believe the next board members will require similarly unique perspective, skills and experience to effectively bring stakeholders together to solve those problems. I believe my record and resume shows those traits needed to bring people together, solve problems, and make GPS a District of choice for families in Arizona.

Jill Humpherys (4 Year)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: jhbookfan@gmail.com
  • Community of Residence: Gilbert, AZ
  • How many years have you lived in this community? 20 years
  • Name of Employer: Not Applicable
  • Occupation or Title: Homemaker
  • Campaign website:https://www.jillforgps.com/
  • Social Media Account:https://www.facebook.com/JillHumpherysForGilbertSchoolBoard
  • Brief Summary of Employment History:
    • Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board Member, 2012-Present
      • Recipient of School Connect Collaborative Leadership Award, 2021
      • ASBA 2021 School Finance 101: Budget Basics Course completer, 2021
      • Maricopa County Co-Director for Arizona School Board Association, 2017-2021
      • ASBA Copper Star Award recipient, 2018
      • ASBA Master of Boardmanship Award, 2016
      • Public Education Advocate at the Legislature, 2012 to present
    • Stay-at-Home mother who raised 5 children, 1986-2020
    • Volunteer:
      • Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted: Co-Founder and Vice President 2006-2012,
      • Gilbert High School: Choir Boosters Chair for Uniforms, Field trip volunteer, Track and Cross Country Parent helper.
      • Mesquite Junior High and Greenfield Junior High: Field trip chaperone, seamstress for “Cinderella”
      • Mesquite Elementary: Art Masterpiece, Field trip chaperone, PTO helper
      • Church: Teacher for children and young women, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator
      • Spring Meadows Neighborhood: Leader in coordinating neighborhood playground replacement, winner of the Congress of Neighborhoods Mayor’s Partners in Excellence Award, 2005
  • Educational Background:
    • BA in English, minor in French with a teaching certificate from Utah State University, 1985
  • Community organizations to which you belong or regularly support:
    • Arizona School Boards Association: an organization with a 70-year history of providing training on leadership, governance, policy, and advocacy to school board members.
    • School Connect: an organization that works to create school-business partnerships for public schools.
    • Education Forward Arizona: an organization that advocates for public education at the state legislature and Governor’s Office.
    • Support Our Schools AZ: a grass roots organization in support of public education.
    • Gilbert Education Foundation: raises funds for scholarships for GPS students and teachers, provides classroom grants for teachers, and social service help for GPS families.
    • My local church

Questionnaire Responses

1. Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Governing School Board. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

Three qualifications that set me apart as the leading candidate for Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board (4-year seat) are my leadership skills, my ability to collaborate, and my focus on student achievement.

My leadership skills include being willing to go first, to ask questions, to suggest ideas and support the ideas of others, to make hard decisions, to study issues and have an open mind, to be fiscally responsible, and to make the education of our students the top priority.

The ability to collaborate is an essential skill for any board member. When considering a decision, I ask myself the following 5 questions, which I call the 5 C’s:

  • What is best for children?
  • What does the community want?
  • Where can we find common ground?
  • How can we come to consensus?
  • What are the constraints?

As a board member, I work for as many 5-0 votes as possible because then the community feels heard. When we focus on children, community, common ground, consensus, and constraints, we make better decisions.

My focus as a board member is on increasing student achievement through retaining highly qualified teachers and staff and providing updated curriculum and technology. I have always valued these words from Policy BCA Board Member Ethics, “Remember always that a Board member's first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending the public schools.”

My leadership skills, my ability to collaborate, and my focus on student achievement make me the best candidate for another term on the GPS Board.

2. What is your vision for the school district for the next 20 to 30 years?

My vision for Gilbert Public Schools for the next 20 to 30 years is that it will continue, as it has for the last 110 years, to provide the best education for students while supporting families and being an integral part of the Gilbert and East Mesa community. Three challenges that we face include recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers and staff, reaching a more diverse student body, and continuing to innovate for positive change.

When I first began my service on the GPS Board, the district paid less than surrounding districts. Due to hard work of the board-superintendent team and the support of voters for the override in 2015 and 2019, GPS now has competitive salaries for teachers, staff, and administrators. Professional development and leadership opportunities also show value for our employees. Gilbert Public Schools has a culture of collaboration and support. We are a family. Competitive salaries will continue to be a challenge.

As students and families in Gilbert become more diverse, we must be aware of the impact of culture, religion, language, traditions, experiences, and talents. When students feel seen, heard, and safe, they can focus on their learning. It is valuable to acknowledge and celebrate students.

Continual innovation is essential to providing students the skills they will need for college and the work force. It also draws enrollment in a competitive public education environment. Some examples of innovation adopted during my tenure on the school board include one to one technology, accelerated classes, self-contained gifted classes, traditional and collaborative classes at the same school, Project Lead the Way at Mesquite and Gilbert High Schools, gifted junior high co-hort, accelerated middle school, and others. Innovation means we are growing, learning, and becoming better.

Over the next 20 to 30 years in GPS, we must recruit and retain quality teachers and staff, reach out to diverse students and their families, and continue positive innovation.

3. What actions do you feel are necessary to help kids catch up in academics and in social-emotional wellbeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

While the last two years of the pandemic have been challenging, let’s celebrate the hard work, grit, and persistence of teachers, students, and families to continue learning! Two decisions made by the board prior to the pandemic helped GPS during the pandemic: one to one technology 7-12 and social workers in every elementary school and junior high and mental health counselors in every high school. The latter was a request from students who came to a board meeting to talk about their concerns. Social workers and counselors are working with students on stress management, persistence, grit, and other skills.

Daily teachers are working with students to address their learning. Teachers use assessments to know which concepts and skills to reteach. Through the use of federal ESSER funds last summer, the district was able to provide free bootcamps and summer school for students identified as needing additional supports. This summer, Governor Ducey has provided federal funds to districts to again help students have a month of engaging and fun learning.

4. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the governing board and how will these priorities further the advancement of education and the schools within your district?

Five priorities I would like to see accomplished during my next term would be educating the whole child, smaller class sizes, more students taking Advanced Placement Classes, and a Love Your Schools Day.

We want students to be well-rounded. They need rigorous academics, and they need opportunities to develop their talents, social skills, and leadership skills. In elementary school, that means those specials: art, music, PE, and library. In junior high and high school, that means the performing arts, fine arts, sports, CTE, culinary, languages, clubs, and other opportunities to explore what interests them.

Arizona has large class sizes. As the financial position of the district allows, I would like to see reduced class sizes especially in the younger grades. Ideally, class size would be no more than 25 students per class. Smaller class sizes would help with individualized instruction and classroom management.

It is important for students to be prepared for college and other post-secondary education opportunities. Encouraging students to take Advanced Placement Classes also encourages those critical thinking and communication skills that will be essential in their future as well as preparing them for more rigorous academic work.

School Connect is a local non-profit organization that connects schools and businesses. At no charge to the district, they are willing to hold a Community and Family Engagement (CAFE) Night where schools and business partners can plan to complete several projects during a Love Your Schools Day. I think this is an exciting opportunity for families, community members, students and school personnel to work together to benefit our schools.

I would also like the Governing Board adopt a plan to use the Arizona Education Progress Meter as a way of measuring our progress. These education metrics were adopted by The Center for the Future of Arizona and Education Forward Arizona (formerly Expect More Arizona) in 2016.

Educating the whole child, smaller class sizes, more students taking Advanced Placement, encouraging a Love Your School Day, and using the Arizona Education Progress meter to measure progress are my five priorities.

5. What issues do you see with the current system of funding education in the State of Arizona? What changes, if any, would you propose to the current funding system?

The current funding formula for public education is complex and inequitable. People do not understand it. Changes to the funding formula are made at the state legislature. If I had the opportunity to weigh in, here are some changes that I would make to how Arizona funds K-12 education with goals of equity, transparency, and accountability:

  • Require that all education entities receiving state taxpayer funds follow the same procurement procedures as school districts and be examined by the Auditor General’s Office.
  • Do a cost study to see what are the true costs of educating students and appropriate funds accordingly.
  • Fully fund all-day kindergarten.
  • Change the wording of “override” to ”local support” and have that tax phase down over 10 to 12 years rather than 7 years.
  • Simplify the number of categories under which expenditures are tracked.

The Arizona School Boards Association has done great work on this topic. To learn more about what schools board members recommend, see https://azsba.org/advocacy/political-agenda/.

6. Do you have experience with complex budgets? Do you feel the district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability?

Yes, I have experience with complex budgets. As a school board member, I have overseen 10 annual budgets for Gilbert Public School. Through the Arizona School Boards Association, I have received training on school finance and in 2021 completed the School Finance 101: Budget Basics course, which represented 4 hours of school finance training. I have had to make difficult decisions, but I always focus on what is best for students while being fiscally responsible.

The district has positioned itself for fiscal sustainability with low taxes and low debt. Our voters’ support of the 2015 and 2019 override and bond elections has allowed the district to fund competitive salaries for all staff, update curriculum, expand programs, improve schools, acquire new busses, and provide technology. Gilbert Public Schools is in a very good financial situation. One reason I am running for another term is to maintain the stability we have worked so hard to achieve.

7. How would you propose to interact with your constituents (including the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce) to ensure they understood what was happening at the Governing Board level and had an opportunity to voice their opinions?

Many of my constituents have reached out to me via my district email. I attend many school performances and sports events and I welcome discussions with concerned parents and community members. I always attend the Gilbert Chamber Business and Education Summit as I find those discussions very valuable. I am always available to my constituents.

I encourage people to use the chain of command or what I like to refer to as the chain of responsibility. If there is a problem, the concerned parent should first reach out to the person closest to the situation, which is the classroom teacher. If concerns are not resolved, they should reach out to the principal. District administration is available if needed. Almost all problems are resolved when the chain of responsibility is followed.

8. Please explain the difference in roles between the Governing Board and the school superintendent on overall education policy.

The role of the Governing Board is to:

  • set the vision for the district,
  • hire the superintendent and evaluate him or her,
  • approve personnel, curriculum, and the budget,
  • approve policy,
  • be the body of final appeal for student and staff discipline.

The role of the superintendent is to:

  • implement the vision for district through a strategic plan,
  • is responsible for the day to day operations of the district,
  • makes recommendations to the board on personnel, curriculum, and the budget, then implements the decisions of the board,
  • make recommendations to the board for new policy or changes to policy and implements the decision of the board,
  • oversees the discipline process and presents evidence to the board during the appeal process, then implements the decision of the board.

Governing Board members can only make decisions in a public meeting. No board member has authority as an individual. The importance of well-functioning board-superintendent team to the well-being of the district is immeasurable. Student achievement goes up when students, not board members, are the focus of the district.

9. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you would like to share?

GPS is a leader in core academic subjects like science, math, language arts, history, and special education. We have award-winning arts, music, and sports programs that help students to develop their talents and leadership skills, helping them to be well-rounded people preparing for the future.

During my ten years of service on the GPS Board, I have worked with the board-superintendent team to set a vision for the district, establish a strategic plan, hire and evaluate the superintendent, and be fiscally responsible while focusing on what is best for students. I would appreciate your vote!

Chad Thompson (4 Year)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: Chad@votechadthompson.com
  • First Name: Chad
  • Last Name: Thompson
  • Community of Residence: Ashland Ranch
  • Years in This Community: 10 years
  • Occupation: Self Employed / We Buy Ugly Houses, Franchise Owner
  • Occupation: Self Employed / Bright Litigation & Trial Services, President/Owner
  • Campaign Website: Votechadthompson.com
  • Employment History:
    • Litigation Consultant, 15 years
    • Real Estate Investor, 1 year
  • Education:
    • Arizona State University; B.S. Business
    • Cibola High School, Yuma, AZ; Diploma, 1997
  • Community Organizations
    • Ashland Ranch Elementary Site Council
    • Feed My Starving Children
    • Phoenix Community Food Bank
    • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Youth Leader
    • Gilbert Youth Sports Millennial Choirs and Orchestras

Questionnaire Responses

1. Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Governing School Board. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

I am a father, business owner and huge advocate of Gilbert. As a father my primary concern is the safety and well being of my children. A large part of their wellbeing includes their education and what they are and as importantly, what they are not being taught in school. As a father on the school board, I can better ensure that my children and all GPS students are learning actual education like math, science, English and true American history, not revisionists versions of it. It will also be my responsibility to remove and keep out any curricula that distracts for our children’s fundamental education. Politically charged curricula like Critical Race Theory (CRT), Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE), etc., that undermines everything good and lovely that parents teach children at home. These divisive theories have no place in our school or in our community.

I’ve been a small business owner in Gilbert for years and I know what it takes to be successful both financially and ethically. Identifying and managing budgetary needs are key to a successful business. I will bring this experience to my position on the school board and make certain that each dollar is accounted for and being used in a manner that best serves the students. Above all, ethics is a vital part of running a successful business and the school district is no different. Every student, teacher, staff, and administrator should be treated with fairness and honesty. As a board member it is important to me that we have a culture of honesty and integrity to make sure all of our efforts are singly focused on providing the best education for our students.

Finally, I love Gilbert! My family and I have lived in Gilbert for over 10 years. We moved to Gilbert because it’s a family focused town with a real sense of community and great schools. In the last 5 years there has been a change in some of that focus and feeling of community. I believe our schools are the foundation of our community and set the tone for the entire community. Good schools attract good business which attracts good families which creates a good community. It is accurate to say that as goes the schools, so goes the community. Our schools have slowly been shifting focus from education to social activism. This shift has been driving a wedge between our children and their parents and grandparents, which creates tension and send ripples into all aspects of our community. As a school board member, I will fight to bring traditional education and values back to our schools which will unite students, families, and our community.

2. What is your vision for the school district in the next 20 to 30 years?

My vision for our schools in the next 20 to 30 years is a school district that promotes education and practical technical skills that allow our students to be competitive in post high school education and in the work force. Some on our school board want to eliminate the traditional letter grade scale and shift to a subjective student assessment practice which measures students on intangible, always moving definitions that have no basis in what students have actually learned. Moving to a new grading system like this will harm students by making them focus on factors besides education to get five stars or seven smiley faces. Also, in this era where every kid wants to be a professional gamer or youtuber, we can promote technical skills training. Taking advantage of resources like East Valley Technical Institute (EVIT) can greatly enhance the skills of our students that don’t want to pursue college after high school. The need for persons skilled in every technical trade from HVAC to plumber to cosmetologist is going to be in high demand in the coming decades. I will work with schools like EVIT to excite and make GPS students aware of the training available for opportunities in these high demand fields.

I also vision a financially sustainable school district not dependent on federal dollars or bonds paid for by taxpayers. Every federal dollar comes with strings attached in the form of added personnel, facilities, and programs. We need to know what the cost is of these attached strings in the long term and access if accepting federal dollars now will actually cost the district more down the road. As a school district we also need to be recognizing areas we can save money and implementing strategy to prevent us to going back to the taxpayers every five years and asking for more money in the form of bonds and overrides. Gilbert should be in charge of Gilbert schools.

3. What actions do you feel will be necessary to help kids catch up in academics and in the social-emotional wellbeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

We are now realizing the devastation done to our children as a result of school closures, mandates, and isolation. I have seen and felt these effects in my own home with my children. As a school board and community, we have to accept the fact that COVID-19 happened, and we have to move on. There are key steps school boards can take to help with the loss of education, but parents must take the lead on the social-emotional wellbeing of their children with the schools taking a minor supporting role.

As a school board member, one of my areas of focus is closing the education gap that occurred as a result of bad board policies. I plan to accomplish this by focusing on education, encouraging parent participation at home and in the classrooms and providing opportunities before and after school for students that need help closing the gap. I also believe teachers can play a key role by identifying which students are struggling and communicating with parents and creating a “Close the Gap” action plan for helping those students.

I understand that many children are struggling socially and emotionally. But schools do not have the right to assume the role of professional counselor to students. It is also not fair for parents to trust that the same institution that caused the problem is qualified to fix it. Schools are not equipped to take on the staffing or financial burden necessary to be in the business of professional counseling and it will open schools up to potentially significant legal repercussions. It is the parents’ right and responsibility to care for the social and emotional wellbeing of their children. The schools should assist in this effort by making it possible for students to make up work that is missed because of parent made counseling appointments and provide teachers the training to identify students that may be struggling socially and emotionally and communicate that with the student’s parents.

4. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the governing school board and how will these priorities further the advancement of education and the schools within your district?

My top three priorities as a board member are closing the education gap, getting back to basics with traditional education curricula, and re-establishing trust between parents, teachers and the district by upholding parents’ rights and raising the level of education and programs to be ‘The choice in education in our community.

Closing the education gap will ensure our students have the knowledge and skills to be competitive in the real world. Parent involvement is also crucial to helping our students as is allowing our teachers to focus on education and remove any policy barriers that would require them to spend their time and district resources on non-educational subjects.

In connection with my first priority, my second priority is getting back to basics. It seems our students are spending less time on learning and more time on the perceived and media driven social plagues threatening our society. Our schools should be a place where students can be safe from social and political bias and just learn. As a school board member, I will take a key role in identifying and advocating for curricula that are focused on traditional education and learning. I will also fight to get politically biased agenda-based programs that waste teacher time and resources and student opportunities to learn out of our schools and keep them out.

Lastly, my third priority which is connected to my first and second priority is re-establishing trust. We have to get the trust of parents back! The decisions of the current board have created an environment of mistrust and uncertainty. As a parent I want to trust that my kids will have open schools that teach actual education and not social activism. By returning to traditional curricula, keeping “woke” programs out of our schools, and respecting parents’ rights, GPS parents will trust our teachers and district and be confident that Gilbert Public Schools is the right choice for their children and families.

5. What issues do you see with the current system of funding education in the State of Arizona? What changes, if any, would you propose be made to the current funding system?

There are a couple of fundamental issues with our current system of funding in Arizona. One is the acceptance of federal funds and the compliance issues that accompany those funds. Second, we have a system that promotes a top-heavy administration that takes funds desperately needed for teachers and students.

Our dependance on and acceptance of federal funds is dangerous. Every dollar we accept has compliance regulations attached. By accepting these funds, the district is required to follow federal mandates such as implementing CRT and SEL programs, building and maintaining facilities to accommodate very small self-determined minority classes and hiring staff to oversee that these programs and infrastructure are run in accordance with federal imposed standards. If we continue down this path, we are subject to the whims of whatever way the political winds are blowing and will alienate parents to the point of not considering GPS as a viable choice for education.

Our school district has more money than ever before. So why do we have declining graduation rates, plummeting grades and really good teachers that are under paid and under supported? These are serious questions that need serious answers. Gilbert approved a $100M bond and override in 2019, yet every year parents receive requests for classroom supplies and the district is spending money at a record rate to replace faculty being absorbed into district positions or leaving the district for more money. As a board member I will identify areas of savings that will help eliminate dependency on federal and taxpayer funds. As we do things such as return to traditional education, respect parents’ rights and increase opportunities for technical training, GPS will become more attractive to new students and students that have left the district and that will result in an increase in funding and the possibility to correct these fundamental funding issues.

6. Do you have experience with complex budgets? Do you feel the district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability?

My business degree from Arizona State University and owning my own business has given me experience in managing complex budgets. Based on the acceptance of federal funds and the lack of identifying areas of savings since the last bond and override, I do not think the district has sufficiently positioned itself to address long-term sustainability. However, all is not lost. By implementing my plans above we can achieve long term sustainability.

7. How would you propose to interact with your constituents (including the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce) to ensure that they understood what was happening at the Governing Board level and had an opportunity to voice their opinions?

My campaign slogan is “LISTENING TO PARENTS” and that extends to everyone in Gilbert. I have experienced firsthand what it is like to be ignored by our school board and am sympathetic to those that have had similar experiences. Our schools are an integral part of our community and having an approachable school board allows everyone to feel heard and better understand board decisions and implementation of those decisions. The Gilbert Chamber is made of up of parents and citizens within GPS and deserve the same respect and opportunities to be heard. By listening to all members of our community we can create the best school district possible. This will assist in developing students that are ready to hit the ground running and be excellent employees and business and community leaders.

8. Please explain the difference in roles between the Governing Board and the school superintendent on overall education policy.

The primary function of the Governing Board is to establish priorities and create policies by which the district is governed. The primary function of the superintendent is to manage the day-to-day operations of the school district and develop regulations to implement board policies. The Superintendent will also fill leadership roles with qualified personnel and report back to the board any gaps or needs they have identified.

9. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Although I can’t foresee everything I will be faced with as a governing board member, I have a clear vision of the direction GPS needs to go in order to best meet the needs of our students, families, and community. As one of two candidates with multiple children currently in the district I feel an urgency to make our schools the best they can be as soon as possible and the motivation to keep them that way for decades into the future.

The current board approach of “go along to get along” has not worked. It has allowed bad policies garbage ideologies to slither into our schools and undermine parents, create chaos in classrooms and fail our children. Our students are struggling, and parents do not trust this board can fix it. Our students deserve board members that will fight to keep them safe and educate and prepare them for their next phase of life. Our parents deserve board members that will listen to them and focus on what is best for their children. Our students, families and community should be able to rely on schools being open and parents to make decisions for their children’s mental, social and physical health. Our business leaders deserve to know their future work force will have the knowledge and skills they rely on to be productive and profitable.

Our schools are the bedrock of our community. I will fight to create a district and schools where our students will receive the best education, our parents will trust the education and those teaching it and our students, families and community will thrive and grow together.

Collette Evans (4 Year)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: vote4collette@gmail.com
  • Community of Residence: Gilbert, Arizona
  • How many years have you lived in this community? 27 years
  • Name of Employer: Evolve Home Loans
  • Occupation or Title: Loan Originator
  • Campaign website or social media account:
  • Brief Summary of Employment History
    • Evolve Home Loans (2013-Present); Loan Originator
    • Protect Young Minds (Spring 2018); Special Assignment: Converted and internet safety curriculum for children into an animated Keynote presentation
    • Peoria Unified School District (SY 1994-95); Math and Computer Science Teacher, Cactus High School
  • Educational Background
    • Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (December 1997); Master of Arts: Mathematics Education
    • Brigham Young University, Provo, UT (August 1994); Bachelor of Science: Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science and a Secondary Teaching Certification
  • Community organizations to which you belong or regularly support

Questionnaire Responses


1. Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Governing School Board. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

The 3 qualifications that set me apart from my opponents are my perspective, my volunteer experience and my math background.

I have lived in Gilbert since 1995 and have been actively involved in the school district at some level since my youngest started kindergarten in 2000. I have witnessed many of the challenges that have come with a growing school district as well as the successes. In my attempts to be a part of solutions over the last 22 years, I have gained a perspective that will be quite beneficial to serving on the governing board. This perspective has taught me the value of a solid, stable school board, one that is able to well represent the parents, teachers and community, work together for the benefit of our students, and attract excellent educators.

In addition to various volunteer church positions, I have served as President of East Valley Youth Symphony, Co-Chair of Unite for Education, and most recently as a member of our HOA board. I have also served on multiple district committees and parent councils, and two different booster organizations, most recently as the Highland Orchestra Treasurer. This experience has given me the opportunity to work with a myriad of people across the district and our town. I have learned the value of finding common ground and hearing real concerns to build consensus. I believe that everyone has something to offer and the best outcomes are achieved when we listen to others, especially to people with perspectives different from our own.

I earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Math Education. This background has trained me how to analyze problems quickly and thoroughly, getting to the heart of problems and knowing what questions to ask in order to solve them.

2. What is your vision for the school district in the next 20 to 30 years?

My vision for Gilbert Public Schools is to make it the premiere school district in the state of Arizona, a place where educators are begging to work and students are begging to enroll.

3. What actions do you feel will be necessary to help kids catch up in academics and in the social-emotional wellbeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

In order to catch kids up in academics and in their social and emotional wellbeing, I believe it is imperative that we first identify our students that are struggling. This might be best achieved in our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), as teachers have the opportunity to meet weekly to discuss the needs of their students and put measures in place to help them, such as extra tutoring and peer support. Our district also has summer boot camps to help assist in this goal. For students with social emotional needs, each campus in our district now has either a social worker or mental health counselor that we can utilize in this effort.

4. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the governing school board and how will these priorities further the advancement of education and the schools within your district?

I believe a good governing board member comes in with a vision, not necessarily an agenda. A governing board represents the community in prioritizing the budget, setting and enforcing policy, and adopting curriculum. It also hires the superintendent and holds him/her accountable. My three priorities listed below lay out how I will approach each of these responsibilities.

My top priority is to focus on student achievement. Every decision made in our school district should be able to positively answer the question “Is this good for our students?” Our students need to be well prepared to succeed in our ever-changing and complex world. They need to be able to not only compete globally but to be active, contributing members of their local communities, and a good education is a key component to achieving this. I believe this is accomplished by ensuring each student has access to the necessary tools to not only succeed but excel, including addressing any learning losses due to COVID. We need to also make sure we have solid options for college prep as well as career readiness, and build partnerships with our parents to get feedback for continual improvement.

My second priority is to ensure that our processes are fair, transparent and fiscally responsible. I believe this is achieved by 1) involving all of our stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members; 2) consistently communicating our processes to our community by various means; and 3) being deliberate in our spending by prioritizing student achievement and being accountable to our taxpayers.

My third priority is to retain and attract excellent teachers, staff and administrators. Our staff needs to be paid competitively and to know they are valued by our district, parents and the community. Our teachers need to have the necessary support to do their job effectively, including proper ongoing training and a robust curriculum, as well as be empowered to help students achieve their very best.

5. What issues do you see with the current system of funding education in the State of Arizona? What changes, if any, would you propose be made to the current funding system?

Currently all kindergarten classrooms are funded at .5 ADM, meaning each kindergartener receives half of the funding that students from other grades would receive. This calculation was instituted when most of our kindergarteners across the state only attended school for half the day. As most schools now offer full-time kindergarten, it makes sense to offer those students the full funding.

Also, we are grateful that the legislature just reinstated some of our capital funding, or District Additional Assistance. However, the current statute for these capital funds does not adjust for inflation each year. For example, our Maintenance and Operations budget (M&O) is adjusted each year for inflation, up to 2%. I would like to see this DAA receive the same adjustment for inflation.

6. Do you have experience with complex budgets? Do you feel the district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability?

While I do not have a lot of personal experience working with complex budgets, I have learned a lot about our school district’s budget in my time serving on the GPS Zero-Based Budgeting Committee. Also, each time the district has gone out for an override or bond, I have taken time to learn how the district is being accountable for and managing their funds as well as prioritizing their needs so I can be sure I am supporting initiatives that I believe are needful. On a smaller scale, I have had budgetary experience in almost every organization I have been involved in. In each instance, I have been a part of prioritizing needs, always spending within our means and accounting for our spending.

I believe our district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability. Our financial department makes conservative estimates when planning for annual budgets. Also, the governing board just approved a policy with a target budget balance carryover of 4%, or roughly $10 million. This should help the district in the event of unexpected expenses or loss of income due to unexpected loss of enrollment.

7. How would you propose to interact with your constituents (including the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce) to ensure that they understood what was happening at the Governing Board level and had an opportunity to voice their opinions?

I believe in being open and available to parents and the public. My cell phone is readily accessible and I am always happy to sit down with members of our community. I especially enjoy hearing concerns, as that is how we learn what we can improve upon, and I would support the district implementing more parent and community surveys to get this feedback. Also, I hope to effectively communicate my positions in board meetings to foster transparency in our processes. I have not had much of social media presence, but plan to expand this throughout the campaign and while on the board to help advertise the good we do and get feedback from our community.

8. Please explain the difference in roles between the Governing Board and the school superintendent on overall education policy.

The Governing Board works with the superintendent to set policy. It is then the superintendent’s job to implement that policy with the Governing Board holding the superintendent accountable for this implementation.

9. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Jesse Brainard (2 Year)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: jessebrainardforgps@gmail.com
  • Community of Residence: Gilbert, AZ
  • How many years have you lived in this community? 24 years
  • Name of Employer: Arizona State Senate
  • Occupation or Title: Chief Page/Constituent Services Representative
  • Campaign website or social media account:
    • The website will launch by April 30, 2022,
    • Instagram: @JesseforGPS
  • Summary of Employment History:
    • Arizona State Senate
      • Chief Page/Constituent Services
      • Nov 2021- Present
      • Constituent Services Specialist
      • Dec 2020- Nov 2021
      • Senior Senate Page/Bill Reader
      • Jan Nov 2019-Dec 20
      • Senate Page
      • Jan 2019-Nov 2019
    • MVA Solutions
      • Team Lead
      • Jun 2018- Nov 2019
      • Customer Service Representative
      • Jun 2017- Jun 2018
  • Education Experience:
    • Arizona State University
      • BS in Political Science, Certificate of Civic Education
      • 2019- In Progress (Graduation Fall 2022)
    • Chandler-Gilbert Community College
      • Associates Degree in General Studies
      • Completed May 2019
    • Gilbert High School
      • High School Diploma
      • Completed May 2016
    • Gilbert Junior High School
    • Patterson Elementary School
    • TOYBOX Early Learning Program GPS
  • Community organizations to which you belong or regularly support

Questionnaire Responses

1. Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Governing School Board. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

A product of Gilbert Public Schools, I attended PreK-12 and graduated from Gilbert High in 2016. If elected I will be the only board member who has actually attended the schools that they are serving. Using my experience as a student who struggled with learning disabilities, balanced extracurricular activities, and dealt with bullying, I can relate with our students today. I know what it’s like to be the student who is afraid to raise their hand because they are embarrassed of their learning disability or they have an IEP. With an emphasis on social and emotional health, I will fight for students with an understanding of what a learning environment is like today.

Working at the Arizona State Senate in a Non-Partisan role has been an enriching experience in understanding perspectives. I know how to work with others even when those people have completely opposite views. Finding common ground in which to bridge those ideas is a crucial aspect in this setting. My mission is to serve our state and focus on the constituents. Being familiar with providing service and connecting constituents with state agencies to address a variety of issues is an important role. Political leanings do not impact the goal.In turn, focusing on what is best for students is a natural extension of this. Working with the community to make our education system better is my ultimate goal.

When presented with a concern or need, I am diligent in finding potential solutions. Identifying the problem is important. However, too often, resources and ideas to help solve those problems are not researched or identified. When looking at an issue, I focus on all points, possible causes and effects and experts in the topic. Using communication skills and research, I examine outside resources to better help resolve complex issues. Looking toward similar needs in the District, I have already started to research areas that I am not fully knowledgeable about while looking for solutions to my main concerns for the current situation our community and students face.

2. What is your vision for the school district in the next 20 to 30 years?

Our school district's Tradition of Excellence not only continues to be but our standards are even higher. We are an innovative school that supports our students, staff, and works with the community to continue to improve. I want our district to be leaders in the state.

3. What actions do you feel will be necessary to help kids catch up in academics and in social-emotional wellbeing as a result of the impact of COVID-19?

Making sure the district is focusing on innovative ways to reach our students. Now more than ever it’s harder for students to ask for help, let’s make this easier on them and make sure our wait times to schedule appointments with mental health professionals are not preventing students from receiving help. Let’s listen to the students and have them voice their concerns and create opportunities to do so.

The dropout rate has increased in GPS and districts across the state as well as the graduation rate. We need to make sure that we utilize the experienced staff on hand to create solutions for these issues. As well as making sure the district as a whole are sharing best practices that they have found to work especially in the Math/Literacy arena.

4. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the governing school board and how will these priorities further the advancement of education and the schools within your district?

- Prioritize Student Mental Health

During this pandemic and even before our students have been struggling. This is due to social media, the time we are living in, the mental health crisis and a lack of support services. I want to fix the student to counselor ratio in our district by hiring more mental health professionals and requesting more funding for that reason. Also making sure we are listening to our students and finding innovative ways to reach them. Let’s look at districts like TUSD where they implemented a free app with resources for students and families. They worked with UA to get this going and we should reach out to our community partners and do the same.

- Revitalize Student Transportation
The transportation cost for our district is very high compared to our peers. Let’s tackle this issue by applying and utilizing grants that are focused on getting hybrid/electric buses. This could save community members in the long run and reduce costs in its entirety. We also have a school bus driver shortage where we were short 41 drivers in 2021. The district has done some good things such as increasing the pay for the bus drivers. Let’s build on that and evaluate how that has improved and what the next step should be to grow.

- Retain our Teachers

This pandemic has been a struggle for all, especially our teachers. They are leaving in droves around the state and Gilbert is not exempt. We need to streamline communication from administration to our staff members. Making sure we are utilizing our budget in a way that supports our teachers is imperative. Recognizing their efforts and highlighting their achievements would be a priority. In order to make Gilbert Public Schools an even greater place to work, we must ensure quality teachers are engaged so they can continue to provide the highest standard of connections and excellence in educating our students. Gilbert Public Schools should be the employer of choice for all certified and classified positions.

5. What issues do you see with the current system of funding education in the State of Arizona? What changes, if any, would you propose be made to the current funding system?

Although we have funded K-12 Public Education a little more recently, there is still a lot to do and a long road ahead of us. I propose that we bring back funding for Full-Day Kindergarten, increase capital funding, and increase funding towards the School Facility Board. Tied in with that school districts need to make sure they are being fiscally responsible with their money, making sure they focus on direct classroom spending. As well as making sure teachers, counselors, and staff are being paid well so we can retain our great employees who serve our students.

6. Do you have experience with complex budgets? Do you feel the district has positioned itself financially to address long-term sustainability?

Although I don't have experience with complex budgets personally, I have observed many processes while staffing the Senate Education/Appropriations Committees in a non-policy role. With a commitment to learning, I have a thirst to gain new knowledge to ensure our District is being fiscally responsible.

The District has made sustainable decisions; the District's audit came back clean for the first time since 2015. Per the most recent Auditor General's Report, GPS is leading most of its peers on direct classroom spending at 61.6 %. We also have one of the lower administration costs at 8.2%. I believe that is positive; we need to focus directly funding with student centered priorities..

The District needs to work on transportation costs, which are way over the state average in the cost per mile and cost per rider. We need creative solutions like taking advantage of grant programs available for hybrid buses, talking with our peers regarding best practices, and speaking with community professionals who have more in-depth knowledge on how to lower those costs.

7. How would you propose to interact with your constituents (including the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce) to ensure that they understood what was happening at the Governing Board level and had an opportunity to voice their opinions?

Daily, I work with constituents across the state to make sure they feel heard and provide state resources. I work with state agencies to resolve unemployment assistance,state tax issues and locate pandemic relief.

Improving the accessibility of our District website is a priority for me, and posting board members' email addresses so there is more straightforward communication. Members of the community should have ease of access to their Board Members and District leaders. The website offers many options, links and information. It can be overwhelming for some as changes are implemented.

Making time to meet with all stakeholders is a priority. Working in partnerships, addressing concerns, and finding solutions to support our students, families and schools while keeping our community the successful and welcoming environment it has continued to foster. our community involved in decision-making that impacts us all.

8. Please explain the difference in roles between the Governing Board and the school superintendent on overall education policy.

The Governing Board has the ultimate responsibility to create district policies and evaluate the superintendent's performance yearly. The superintendent can be a helpful resource and can help advise the board. However, their job is to carry out the policies and run the district day today. Both positions are responsible for communicating to the public as well as understanding the changing needs of the educational environment.

9. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

N/A

Video Responses

The following candidates did not participate in video responses:

  • Jesse Brainard (2 Year)
  • Ronda Page (2 Year)