Keck: Who really has a vested interest in Scottsdale schools

Posted 10/18/22

Amy Carney, candidate for the Scottsdale Unified school board, repeatedly says “We must elect proven parent leaders to our board who have a vested interest in the success of our …

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Keck: Who really has a vested interest in Scottsdale schools


Amy Carney, candidate for the Scottsdale Unified school board, repeatedly says “We must elect proven parent leaders to our board who have a vested interest in the success of our district”.

To Amy, only parents of current SUSD students have a vested interest in the success of the Scottsdale Unified School District.

By this definition Amy’s running mate, Carine Werner, isn’t qualified to be on the board since she no longer has children in the district. That’s a bit ironic.

More importantly, however, I find this point of view to be ill-informed, and frankly insulting. First and foremost, I believe every adult member of our community has a vested interest in our public school system: It is our collective moral obligation to see that every young person graduates with the academic and life skills needed to become successful, productive adults.

Secondly, 85% of Scottsdale’s 115,400 households don’t have K-12 age children. To say that residents of approximately 98,000 households in Scottsdale don’t have a vested interest in the Scottsdale Unified School District is just patently false. All of these households pay taxes to support the district. And that doesn’t include all the business owners in the city, who also pay rent/property taxes to support the schools.

In fact, taxpayers are the primary funders of SUSD, providing approximately 75% of SUSD’s total revenues through property taxes, overrides, and bonds — therefore they have a very large vested interest in our schools. Ms. Carney is effectively saying to these 98,000 households and all business owners: “We’re happy to take your money, but you don’t deserve a say in how it’s used. Just give us your money and go away.”

What about employers in our city? Surely they have a vested interest in SUSD graduates. Are graduates qualified to be hired? How much on-the-job training do they require? Do they have the skill set — tangible and intangible — to be long-term, productive employees?

Also, in Amy’s opinion, the additional 20-30-40 years of life experience a 50+ year-old has — watching your children go to college, start their first job, move up the ladder, get married, have grandchildren; if you yourself work now or worked until retirement, and obtained another 20-30-40 years of career experience — all that has no value in leading our district either.

Trust me, there’s nothing so unique about SUSD schools that one can only understand the district’s successes and challenges if one has/had a child in an SUSD school. If that were true, Ms. Carney would only be qualified to work on issues in the few specific elementary/middle/high schools her children attended; not in the remainder of the 29 SUSD schools they didn’t attend.

Similarly, the CEO of Delta Airlines couldn’t be the CEO of United Airlines because there’s something so special about United that a skilled executive in the same industry can’t understand it. Anyone with corporate experience knows how ridiculous that claim is.

An SUSD governing board member must represent all stakeholders in the community. Ms. Carney has revealed where her allegiance lies — with current SUSD parents. In a recent article she said “We don’t need anyone representing us…”, she didn’t say “You don’t need anyone representing you…”. A very telling statement.

If you’re one of the 98,000+ empty-nesters in Scottsdale, or a taxpayer who’s paying taxes to SUSD and also paying tuition at a private school, or a Scottsdale business owner paying rent/property taxes to support our public schools, or a Scottsdale employer hiring SUSD grads, I’d suggest you think very carefully about this statement when you vote.

Ask yourself, “Who will sit on the SUSD governing board and have your interests in mind?”