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On the recommendation of Sweetwater Union High School District interim superintendent Ed Brand, the board voted February 21 to purchase iPads for all seventh-graders in the next school year.

Trustee Bertha Lopez cast the dissenting vote, saying that she supports technology for students but there are more important construction and repair priorities in the district.

Parent Maty Adato pointed to the Eastlake Observatory as a more appropriate place to spend bond construction money. Adato said the observatory has not been available for student use due to dry-rot in the floor.

The cost of the tablets will be $4.3 million; $1.8 million will come from Proposition O funds, $1.5 million from Mello Roos funds, $500,000 from federal grant money, and $500,000 from textbook funding.

Two members of the audience who live in Mello Roos areas argued that the iPad purchases are not an appropriate expenditure for Mello Roos funds and that there are only two district schools in the Mello Roos area, which means money collected for a specific residential area would be spread over the whole district.

The student board representative, Barbara Padilla, said she thought the money would be more wisely spent on something that would enhance all the students’ learning, such as white boards.

Some critics suggested Brand wanted to give the seventh-graders iPads to lure them away from charter schools; those critics suggested that improving the quality of education in the district would be a more effective strategy.

Brand offered motivation for the tablet initiative by referring to the role technology will be playing in 2025. “All the inventions that have occurred in humankind from the beginning of time to today will be done in the next 12-and-a-half years…and what are the kinds of technology that will be utilized by our students?” He pointed to nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Brand also said that Chinese students are going to school more hours and more days…” With iPads, he continued, “students can be learning 7/24/365.”

The citizens’ oversight bond committee, according to Brand, had vetted the project and agreed that bond language allowed for the purchase.

In a follow-up phone interview, David Butler, bond oversight committee member and former San Diego County assessor, said the committee agreed that the bond language appears to permit the purchase of tablets. However, Butler expressed surprise that the district had moved forward so rapidly on this purchase, as the bond committee had raised many concerns about the expenditure and the district’s long-range plans.

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anniej Feb. 23, 2012 @ 5:52 p.m.

not quite understanding superintendent brand, a few months ago he was out there hoofing the dance that he was bringing 300-400 chinese students here to the sweetwater district. now he is claiming that the chinese are doing a better job than we in educating their students. he spoke of the many more hours of instruction in china and yet he is looking to cut teaching positions; AND THE STATE IS LOOKING TO CUT DAYS OF INSTRUCTION.

since the board meeting many have checked and found that text books that have been vetted by the district are NOT found on IPADS. many struggling college students are having the same issue

the it dept. at sweetwater is overloaded; now brand is claiming that THEY will be certified by apple to fix broken IPADS?????????? and even eluded to students being taught how to fix the IPADS as part of a training program. how many IPADS are fixed here in the US any way? it was my understanding that Apple Plants are in china.

according to brand 'there may be a few broken' - well, i can't name the number of professional adults i know that have accidentally cracked the fragile screens of the IPADS and IPHONES.

the community is beginning to label brand as a 'used car salesman' - much of what he says appears to be 'whatever comes to mind at the time - with no time or interest paid to attention to detail'.

for those wondering why the 7th grade - that is brand's approach to luring students to sweetwater away from charter schools. what he is failing to acknowledge or deal with though is this fact 'the ENTIRE sweetwater district is under Program Improvement by the State'. what has he done about that - NOTHING - NOT A THING!


cvres Feb. 24, 2012 @ 7:41 a.m.

A used car salesman, now that you say it, it really sticks. This enormous, costly, and possibly illegal blunder was pushed through so fast it's riduculous. How much time did parents really have to respond to the idea? Perhaps, the parents would have seen it as more appropriate for seniors? I'd like to have heard from teachers and librarians on this issue. But who am I kidding? Brandara didn't care what the bond committee thought, didn't care what the people who came to speak said, didn't even care what the student representative said. Kudos to Lopez.


Visduh Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:14 a.m.

I'd say that Brand is ramming decisions through the corrupt board before some of the members are removed due to criminal conviction, reelection or recall. Once started, these practices will be difficult to reverse or rescind, and he'll have put his mark on the district. For a guy who is just an "interim" superintendent, he's sure active with his out-of-the-blue proposals. A few years ago we had an interim, sort-of-caretaker "supe" here in Vista, and hardly anyone knew his name. He served a number of years, and nobody even remembers a single thing he did. THAT'S what an "interim" should be doing.


eastlaker Feb. 24, 2012 @ 10:25 a.m.

This is getting crazier and crazier. Visduh, I think you have found the heart of the matter.

We need a way to signal "no confidence", and "cease and desist".


joepublic Feb. 24, 2012 @ 10:36 a.m.

Good points everyone. Also, after listening to the tapes, I believe at least one member of the board, Jim Cartmill, was talking about zero percent loans to help parents pay for insuring the iPads. He said something to the effect that parents should have "some skin in the game". Wouldn't that violate our state's longstanding constitutional guarantee of a free public education? As a temporary employee, Brandara has no business proposing such drastic, longlasting policies, and should be sent packing immediately.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 24, 2012 @ 12:45 p.m.

No school district in CA or Amercia should be buying ipads for anyone. They are not needed and the cost to benefit ratio is so low it makes no sense at all.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 3:04 p.m.

As a 50-year old that didn't even have the pleasure of computer technology of any kind until college (and even then the machines were dinosaurs), I should be against this, right? But I'm not. Look beyond how you, as an adult, use your computers (here, for example, to engage in discussion), and multiply by a hundred how these machines are going to become integrated into everyone's lives using this technology. You can fit hundreds of textbooks onto a single machine. These machines encourage learning. The California State Constitution guarantees two things concerning education: Free schools (buildings) and free books (up to 10th grade I believe). This computer is a book. It is actually many, many books. I hope that the future brings these computers to 1st graders some day. In the long run, it will help the kids to become smarter and better students and save millions of dollars on those big, heavy, over-priced textbooks.

What you have to ensure, as a taxpayer and a parent and a concerned citizen, is that this technology is utilized as the awesome tool it is, more so than weighing the cost of it. It isn't vital that they are made by Apple or IBM or any other big giant corporation, but it's vital that whichever big giant corporation has the machine of the moment is available for children to take advantage of how the machine can help them learn.


SurfPuppy619 Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:01 p.m.

Sorry Refried-it still has a cost/benefit ratio, and that does not compute IMO.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:24 p.m.

Does your machine have a cost/benefit ratio? Mine does. Theirs will. The savings in traditional textbooks alone will offset the cost of those machines. I don't know if you've ever researched what schools (hence, the State, hence, you and me) pay for traditional textbooks, but look it up and prepare to be astonished. Next, look up the difference between traditionally manufactured books and their digital counterparts. And that's only one benefit.

Step outside of the box and give it the thorough examination it deserves. The easiest thing to do is to think in traditional terms of paper and pencil. That's the past, my friend. That's like stone tablets and chisels now.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:38 p.m.

again i say what about the lack of this district to proved our students with the education they deserve. our districts record is reprehensible when it comes to fiduciary management.

'brandara' is also looking to bring 300-400 chinese students in, he is looking to cut teaching positions by a substantial amount, and he is looking to begin a new charter school for elementary children - all the while ignoring those students in the middle and high school.

'brandara' has got to go. time to begin the search for a new superintendent.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:34 p.m.

Refriedgringo: with all due respect - at the heart of the matter are a few things. the using of prop o monies, the using of mello roos monies - the fact that there will be NO prop o monies for the following year to purchase the IPADS for the next set of 7th graders. additionally the texts that have been approved and being used by the district are not accessible with IPADS. there is not current contract with an internet provider. there are many and i mean many buildings on our campuses that do NOT have wifi.

while agree that technology is a good thing and i further agree that the heavy books are a problem. i do NOT agree that this half baked, thrown together idea by 'brandara' is being done in the best interest of the children.

additionally 'brandara' has done NOTHING, NOT A THING, to get our district out of the states PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT - we are not talking about a few schools here, we are speaking of 14 schools and the ENTIRE DISTRICT on the states list.


joepublic Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:20 p.m.

refriedgringo: You make good points too. One problem though, is where the money is coming from. The board will be spending Proposition O monies that are supposed to be used for construction, infrastructure, etc., and like you say, iPads are books which put them in the instructional materials category. While they might be a better means of acquiring knowledge for some, and instructional monies might be better spent on computers vs books, the fact is that the voters approved Prop O thinking the monies would be used for something else. You are quite right about free books, and that's why the district shouldn't be considering charging parents for any part of this new form of text. By the way I love iPads.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:31 p.m.

Your point about Prop. "O" is well taken. I also have tons of issues with how monies are designated one way and spent another way. I was just looking at it in terms of money spent on iPads as being some sort of a frivolous expenditure and not contributing to education. But yes, if the money was voted on in terms of designating the funds toward specific issues, I agree with those who do not support this. Still, I think that public schools should find a way to allocate funds toward the use of modern technology as a teaching tool, the payoff would be tremendous in the long term.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 4:41 p.m.

i agree that we should be using modern technology. i believe we should also use the resources we have. are you aware that we have an observatory that has sat vacant for 10 years because it is in need of a new roof? what better way to spend a portion of the prop o monies than to have it repaired so it can be used by all district students? as the student representative of the board recommended why not use the prop o technology monies to install more computers into more classrooms thereby allowing the technology to be used by a greater % of students.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:20 p.m.

Annie, and everyone, let's back up. I don't know the "players" involved here, those who you want to toss or keep those people that make such decisions; my opinion is broad, not specific. The first thing I think should be clearly understood, is that the Constitution of the State of California (SOCC) specifically states that children are to be provided with "free schools". Not free education. Don't trick yourself into confusing the two, there is a clear difference, I don't care how Rose Bird "interpreted" it, the idea is clearly that the State will provide schools and textbooks (up to grade 8 or 10, I forget which, but look it up if you wish). The SOCC further provides funding for a State board to delegate available funding for what it deems necessary to provide "free schools" and "free textbooks".

All of this trickles down to the local level, and there isn't very much specifically mentioned in the SOCC beyond that, concerning education.

My point isn't about Prop. "O", please don't argue that with me, you're wasting your time, I understand that issue. My point is broad, in that students and taxpayers will ultimately benefit greatly by utilizing modern technology. I am arguing this assertion:

"The student board representative, Barbara Padilla, said she thought the money would be more wisely spent on something that would enhance all the students’ learning, such as white boards."

This is the type of backward thinking that inhibits real education. A lot of people wonder if civilization as we know it will come to an end this December because the Maya stopped hammering on stone tablets they once used in order to keep time. I think they simply got smart one day and tossed away the hammers and chisels, and embraced something new and modern. In a capsule, that's all I'm saying here.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:48 p.m.

Refriedgringo: it appears that we all believe that the students should have the best technology available. the situation at the sweetwater district is this, they are using prop o monies, mello roos monies, and are hoping to get some grant monies.

IF, the district had district resources to purchase the IPADS that would be one thing, however due to a myriad of issues they do not - part of which is corruption, in my opinion.

unfortunately what will happen this time next year is this, you will be reading how the district ''''UNFORTUNATELY"" is OUT OF PROP O MONIES, and therefore this little thought out plan has come to an end. to me that is irresponsible.

if ONLY we were dealing with the Maya, unfortunately we are dealing with a mostly inept Board, 2 of which are facing felony charges, and an 'interim' superintendent who is nothing more than a salesman attempting to promote ponzi schemes. their abilities to promote higher education is null and void - they are only interested in what affects them politically and personally.

off of the subject and i mean this in all seriousness, hopefully someone with your knowledge and expertise is involved in whichever school districts you reside in - persons such as yourself could teach OUR BOARD a thing a two that is for sure.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 7:07 p.m.

There are people capable, Annie. You are. You see this for what it is, politics. Never lose that insight, and if you so choose - and if you find a horse that needs a rider, jump on and take those reigns.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 7:27 p.m.

Refriedgringo: i am riding a horse of a different race, keeping them honest, or at least trying to.

while i understand the game of politics, i am troubled deeply troubled that things have gone so wrong with our district.

lets think about this for a minute, think about all of those thousands of dollars that seville, jaime ortiz, bonny garcia's wife, the vendors and contractors dropped into the board members coffers - can you imagine if those hundreds of thousands would have been donated for such things as IPADS for the students?

while much has much uncovered and exposed much more has been discovered recently which will be turned over.

sooner or later, those board members who have used their office for personal and political will get the message that the community is no longer going to sit back and tolerate it.



Susan Luzzaro Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:40 p.m.

Hey Refried, Good to hear your comments. Saying yes to technology and preparing students for the future (though most of them are teaching us :-)--is important and we must roll forward with the wheel of time in education. Some have made the point here about where the monies come from which I think is a consideration.

I think the student rep's point was more about buy into technology that could be used by all students.

There were a lot of interesting points made at the board meeting--for example, can smart phones that many students have do the same things, or buy them for seniors so they can use them to apply for college.

I have another thought but suddenly life intervenes....Anyway, greetings...


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:55 p.m.

As usual, your work is stellar. Duty calls for me as well, I need to cook dinner, but if people are actively talking about how new technology can enhance the learning process, that's a very positive thing. The entire equality issue is a huge obstacle though, as I stated, the SOCC doesn't provide for that. I've often suggested that activists who are interested in that facet of education would be better served changing the SOCC to allow for it. My recommendation seems to fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, all I can provide is empirical evidence that these machines are awesome tools. I have a 19 year old currently applying for college. About a month ago, her 25 year old brother paid her $20 to do his homework, the last class he needed in order to receive his AA degree, he didn't have time for it. That wouldn't have happened without this modern technology. No classroom was required. Not that I don't love teachers, but eventually, more iPads might mean less of them. And then maybe some teachers become programmers? Creative destruction?


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:58 p.m.

those of you who have shared my interest in the travesty that has overcome the sweetwater district have often read of my postings regarding 'the gandara' and the fact that he should never have been brought here by cartmill or ricasa to begin with.i had directed you to google jesus gandara and socorro, texas for 'the gandara' history.

well it appears that the feds arrested 'the gandara's' nephew on wednesday for dealing pot and here is the corker HE IS AN ELECTED CITY OFFICIAL. i received the call last evening and confirmed it in the el paso times. so, we have 'the gandara', his brother, and his nephew - currently all of them in legal trouble.

thank you jim cartmill and arlie ricasa - for bringing such an individual into our district. and another thank you to 'WHOEVER' brought 'brandara' to our district the night we retired 'the gandara'. how did 'brandara' get to that meeting? who invited him? who told him/her/the 'the gandara' would be gone? shouldn't that have been an entire board decision?

stay tuned - more skeletons are being unearthed, and they are doozies!!!!!!!!!!!


eastlaker Feb. 24, 2012 @ 6:10 p.m.

Smoke and iPads--Ed Brand's grandiosity is chugging right along!

None of these schemes have anything to do with the nuts and bolts of real learning. They are gimicks, and short-term gimicks at that. We do not need to waste time, effort and funds on these schemes--because if we do, we will wake up in a couple of years to find out that benchmarks have not been met (even if the benchmarks themselves are reassessed).

Why? Because, when it comes to learning, slow and steady wins the race, to employ an old cliche. There are no short cuts, teachers and kids have to do the work, exercising their minds. Magical thinking does not help. And Brand is trying to bamboozle everyone into falling for a series of magical schemes that will solve Sweetwater's problems.

Do not fall for this--we need solid thinking, solid practices, solid follow-through of well-thought out plans--not seat of the pants, frantic scheming with probable financial shenanigans behind it all.


anniej Feb. 24, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.

'brandgara' as he will now be referred to spoke untruths at the last meeting, he stated that the bond oversight committee had vetted the IPADS, THEY DID NOT, was he not listening to Mr. Vasquez's comments?

'brandgara' NEEDS TO GO, the interim needs to be shown the door, NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


pepperkitty90 Feb. 24, 2012 @ 8:19 p.m.

Just wanted to remind everyone that San Marcos Unified paid Brand $410K to go away before he bankrupted us. On the TV interview he said that "The iPads will save the district money since they won't have to update the textbooks every year." In our district, textbooks are actually only updated every seven years in a rotation, at about a million a year. The book publishers are still going to charge for the e-books, and they are not that much cheaper than print books. Many of the books have an access code that only allows a student to use if for one or two semesters. Yes, it is great that the students don't have to carry around the heavy books, but I believe that the costs will be exorbitant. Will the district have to come up with 4 million every year for each incoming class of 7th graders? When they graduate, those iBooks will be worn out or obsolete, so it will be never-ending expense. I am all for technology, but I don't think that this has been thought out very well. Beware Sweetwater, don't let Brand dazzle you with these baubles. I hope there will still be money to pay your teachers.


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9 p.m.

I'm not defending this "Brand" character in any way, but you are incorrect about the cost of digital textbooks being "not that much cheaper" than books in a traditional format. There are a lot of reasons for this. Most are in how the profits are distributed. One of the main reasons that textbooks cost so much money is because the distribution of textbooks is limited (as opposed to, say, some "Twilight" novel that could sell millions of copies). But this becomes multiplied when you consider how many people in the middle of the traditional publishing industry get their cut. Everyone in line marks everything up. With digital publishing, you can eliminate printers, book binders, and distribution, and that's just a start. Not only do you eliminate those costs but you eliminate those mark-ups, and any fees along the way due to a limited number of books printed. Also: it makes the capability of updating (modernizing) a good textbook a snap, no complete reprinting is required.

Again, I'm not defending Brand, if the guy is a corrupt jerk-face then by all means, do what's required to expose that, and I'm not in any way stating that these funds should buy iPads for the kids. But I implore you all to not simply dump the idea of going digital because of all of this. In other words, don't toss out the baby with the dirty bathwater. Or whatever euphemism would be appropriate.


anniej Feb. 25, 2012 @ 3:38 p.m.

Pepperkitty90: yes, the 'brandara' has stated that they will be using prop o dollars for the upcoming years, but then he has also said that there will probably not be any new prop o bond money until/unless the economy turns around.

from what i am hearing the district failed to do their homework - apparently the majority of the books that have been approved and are being used are not available to be downloaded on the IPADS.

'brandara' dazzle us, no chance of that - his funds for education ponzi scheme painted the true picture of who he is.

many are now questioning the true disposition of district funds, wondering if what they say we have, and what we have equate.


SydneyJean Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:03 p.m.

The replacement of textbooks will have a cost associated with it, leave no doubt, the publishers will not loose that market share. So all incoming 7th graders get new iPads, don't get me wrong, this is a great idea, as long as the infrastructure is in place to support it long term. Personally, I think this is setting the table for another Bond issue - look what we started, help us continue. Get ready folks!


David Dodd Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:36 p.m.

Publishers have already lost some of that market share and they are panicking, and they WILL lose ALL of that market share eventually and there isn't a thing they can do to fix it. It's already happening. I will miss traditional books myself, I prefer them over the digital format, but I know that isn't the future. Sure, books will still be printed traditionally, but their print and distribution will be quite limited. Authors first rejected digital publishing - much of it because of what publishers fed them about it - but once some of them saw the difference in their profits they came around. The rest will follow shortly.

Your comment about the infrastructure not being in place is well-stated, it isn't. But it will be. Once that happens, then the iPad thing (or whatever else might be better) should be something that every parent and concerned citizen demands be studied and then implemented. The eventual cost savings will be significant.


anniej Feb. 25, 2012 @ 3:45 p.m.

the chance of brandara floating a new bond issue is non existent, the taxpayers simply will not vote for one more cent to be taken out of their hard earned dollars as long as the majority of the board and the brandara are members of the board.

we need a new superintendent, one who values integrity and ethics.

the ONLY reason he came up with this idea is in an attempt to lure away the charter school kids, he does not realize that the parents in this community are much smarter than he gives them credit for - they know what the 'data' shows - the 'data' shows that the ENTIRE sweetwater district in under program improvement with 14 of its schools on the states list all the while the charter schools are doing their best to provide a stellar education and ARE SUPPORTING NOT ONLY THE PARENTS BUT THE TEACHERS AS WELL as they come up with novel ideas to use those within the district who have the expertise to help the children succeed. sweetwater on the other hand has invested in their money into overpaid consultants - one after another at over $2,500.00 a piece. (for confirmation review board docs and add up all of the consultant money that was paid out over a years time.


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 24, 2012 @ 10:19 p.m.

Refried, dinner over and luckily the thought returned to me. Please don't mistake me, I am actually too much of a fan of technology, but I have read that there are different kinds of learners...some kids will respond to words or sound, some to what is written on an overhead or whatever...for English language learners dialogue in class. So, I think it's like energy, no one form, sun, wind, etc. will be the whole answer.


SydneyJean Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:29 a.m.

Refriedgringo, don't get me wrong, I love where technology is and how fast and amazing it is heading. The point is...roofs are leaking, windows are broken and leaking, there is mold in the classrooms, tile is missing or holes in the carpet, restrooms have to be closed because the plumbing is broken, loose rusty drinking fountains, you get the picture,as that is what was shown to the taxpayer when they asked for not one, but two bond measures. After spending millions to a management firm, the work promised is partially complete, and the money is running out. I would at least like to see the work they told me they were going to do be completed, get the infrastructure in place for technology, and in the words of Dr. Seuss "Oh the Places You Will Go".

You are absolutely correct about textbook publishers, and call me old fashioned, but I find myself digging my heals In when it comes to reading a "real" book, as I sit here and post from my iPad. Ah well.


David Dodd Feb. 25, 2012 @ 2:43 p.m.

I'm just glad to hear that folks are considering the new technology (iPad, or really anything similar) as potentially helpful and likely the solution in the long term. The main reason I opined here was that statement in the story about whiteboards and a few of the first comments rattled me. The way it's incorporated into the classroom certainly deserves a lot of thought and planning, but the results could be amazing in many ways. If folks can manage to somehow overturn THIS particular expenditure for iPads, that's great, because it doesn't sound as though a lot of planning went into it (not to mention that the money is supposed to be going elsewhere).

So far as classroom repair/maintenance, one thing I'm surprised at (consistently) is how Bond measures are constantly needed for it. I mean, the whole idea behind the State Constitution is that "schools" are free, meaning that the State has a responsibility to ensure that the buildings are properly maintained. That's the MAIN idea, that and textbooks. Government amazes me sometimes.

And here's something else I find ironic. While the State of California Constitution states that children shall have free schools, a lot of people seem to think that means free education. Yet, here in Baja, their State constitution explicitly states that children are to be provided with free "education". Yet, the government here seems to interpret that as "free schools". The classrooms here are bare-bones, quite crude, but they are maintained (as best that can be done with the lack of a tax infrastructure here).


erupting Feb. 25, 2012 @ 9:57 a.m.

Too expensive at this time. No long term thoughts as to how the money will be provided to the next class and the next class etc.This just has not been thought out enough for my tax dollars. Are all district adopted textbooks available on the IPAD? Haste makes waste as my mother use to say.


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 25, 2012 @ 1:15 p.m.

I was just at the genius bar in the local Apple store and I asked the genius who was helping about a family member's ipad screen that is broken. I asked how much it would cost to get the screen replaced. He said we would just replace the ipad. He said the ipad is essentially glued together and the process for ungluing it to fix the screen ultimately messes with the way the ipad functions.

I've always had excellent and accurate assistance from the Apple store. I think this would be an important piece of information to get cleared up.

Anyone had any experience replacing an Ipad screen?


David Dodd Feb. 25, 2012 @ 2:49 p.m.

They don't seem to be engineered with screen replacement in mind. If iPads (or similar technology) is ever adopted large-scale into the classroom, that's a great point to consider. Of course, the other thing to consider is that by the time proper study and extensive planning for implementation has been completed, the technology very well might be relatively inexpensive. We could reach a point where a device such as an iPad is a throw-away device, similar to how your average cell phone is today.


anniej Feb. 25, 2012 @ 3:53 p.m.

hmmmmm, very interesting - it appears that brandara must have gone to the wrong source regarding his 'supposed' conversations with APPLE regarding the districts it dept and students being taught to replace the broken screens.

no surprise, brandara appears to shoot from the hip, attempting to portray that he knows of what he speaks when he fact he knows little of what he is attempting to sell. now if it was a ponzi scheme like the funds for education well now, you are talking his lingo - let us remember he brought in a convicted felon mike ellis (meth manufacturer and author of the rape of cinderella) and others in hopes of revisiting a pepsi like contract that paid him over $90,0000.00 (over his salary) for his discretionary spending. the grand jury had recommended an investigation into all sweetwater back when brandara was here before (prop bb) but,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, he up and left before it could get started?????????????


anniej Feb. 25, 2012 @ 4:04 p.m.

yes, mine was cracked not broken, which is not covered under the extended warranty - new IPAD - at MY expense. but according to brandara this would be a great opportunity for these 7th graders to rise to the occasion and become responsible??????????????????????????????????????????


joepublic Feb. 25, 2012 @ 7:53 p.m.

This might be off topic, but then again maybe not. Usually, if not always, an employee accused of a felony is placed on paid administrative leave. How is it that Sweetwater school board members indicted for felonies, including wrongful influence, are permitted to make decisions on spending $4.3 million dollars on Apple's iPads, or on anything else for that matter? It just doesn't make sense. Put them on leave, with pay, like anyone else would be.


anniej Feb. 26, 2012 @ 10:21 a.m.

Joepublic: according to brandara 'they are innocent until proven guilty' - what is interesting though - seville/jaime ortiz were let go. hmmmmmm?????? i guess according to brandara's interpretation of the law, he gets to judge who is guilty. not that i am defending seville, quite frankly they should never have been chosen to begin with - after all they did not come in as first, second, or third choice of the panel selected prospective bidders - until 'the gandara' stepped in and pushed his weight around.

yes, the two board members should have stepped down 'in the best interest of the district/students', but when one considers their alleged crimes it is evident that they never did what was in the best interest of the students or districts but rather used their positions for their self interests and their political interests.

wonder who is going to be paying for quinones cricket tickets now????????


Pancho Feb. 25, 2012 @ 9:31 p.m.

I just don't see how this sustainable after the bond funds dry-up. Can somebody tell me how Brand thinks he can really sustain this? Netbooks would be a better solution, where the cost would be about $200 or less if bought in bulk, but even then, I think this is a desperate attempt by the district to change the public conversation about SUHSD.


anniej Feb. 26, 2012 @ 10:29 a.m.

most likely he has no plan to sustain this because at the moment he is hanging on to that $20,000.00 a month by a thread. the ipad and charter school 'brandara' decisions are doing much to erode what support he had.

the funds for education issue was the hang mans noose for him. when persons such as mike ellis (convicted meth manufacturer who served several years in prison) were brought in to help raise money for 'brandara's' contrived ideas that defined who and what brandara is all about. many in the community still remember one of the sentences in the grand jury's report - "there is much that needs to be investigated regarding some of the money making vendor arrangements" paraphrasing. as i stated before, soon thereafter 'brandara' and a few of his very close friends in the district up and left. one of those 'get out of dodge moments'.

the majority in the community do not trust the figures the district is putting out. prop o monies and balances included.

'brandara' thinks he is going to float another bond - ah, that would be a HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

these hair brained ideas of his will be exposed. stay tuned.


joepublic Feb. 25, 2012 @ 10:06 p.m.

You're right Pancho. They are desperate. Sweetwater is in a tail spin. We have a substitute superintendent making unsustainable, long term proposals to a school board comprised of two alleged felons. They should be relieved of their duties pending their trials, and interim superintendent Brand should be replaced.


anniej Feb. 26, 2012 @ 10:49 a.m.

but you see if 'brandara' had them relieved of their duties he would loose the monopoly of the vote. if ricasa and quinones were gone and 2 persons with integrity brought in then it would be a 3-2 vote. lopez, new member number one, new member number two against cartmill and mccann. and we all know that 'brandara' could not have that.

board member lopez may be short in stature but she carries a certain mozy about her. no matter how big or tall she will take them on. reminds me of a saying of my grandmothers 'annie, you remember this - - the bigger they are the harder they fall'. boy do i love that woman!!!!!

mccann and cartmill should be calling for the 2 to step down and step down now. but they 2 are afraid, remember cartmill and ricasa have been at this a very long time TOGETHER. it was, after all, these two peas in a pod that flew to texas and brought 'the gandara' back with them. that one action truly defines these two - did they not google his name - jesus gandara, socorro, texas? sure they did - that is why they brought him here.

and rather than mccann honor his promises to all of us when he sat in our living rooms, he changed his colors and his allegiances.

mccann continues to do all in his power to carry on this war with board member lopez - i.e. each and ever opportunity he has when he is front of the press he brings up her home being searched, but failing to mention that board member lopez WENT TO THE DA before any of this got started - as the DA mentions in his legal documents. and failing to mention THAT SHE WAS NOT INDICTED - even though he is doing his best, i have heard, to pass along the rumor SHE'S NEXT. he fails to realize that the 2 of them aligning could do great things to clean things up. yes whoever mccann is relying on for guidance should be fired, because at every turn, with every action he has ended up being seen in a negative light - he has ended up being known as 'the little man who wants to be king'. his filming of speakers at the hilltop board meeting was the final nail in his political coffin, and still chuckled about in the community today.

as i sit here i wonder what happened to the planets the day they all aligned and and ended up bringing us 'the gandara', bonny garcia, mccann, cartmill, ricasa, quinones and 'brandara'. is there such a thing as 'corruption force' you know as in magnetic force.


SydneyJean Feb. 26, 2012 @ 6:44 p.m.

The troubling aspect of this is that an Interim Superintendent and 3 Board Members are facing recall, 2 Board Members are up for re-election in November and with the exception of Ms. Lopez, they all thought nothing of shackling the new superintendent and future Board members with debt that simply cannot be sustained. One would think that Brand would want to get the District on the right track, but then looking back, he left it in a mess, now there seems to no direction. Let's see...

  1. Tell the Charter School parents if their 7 & 8 graders are not eligible for the "Compact" unless they are enrolled in SUHSD.

  2. After feeling the heat from the Charter parents, change your mind and say "ok", your can be in the "Compact".

  3. Start my own pre- k through 3rd grade charter school at a community center to try and capture the lost ADA. Were the sign in sheets that folks were asked to sign at the informational meeting used as "Overwhelming Support" for this decision?

  4. Hire Bonny Garcia and support him, then fire him. Praise the Seville Group, then when they are exposed and the money is exposed, fire them.

  5. Get approval for the purchase of iPads even though the construction and upgrades for the greater student population is incomplete.

  6. Start a Sweetwater U, then not.

  7. Start a Funds for Education, hire some pals as consultants then stop it when practices are questioned.

These are just off the top of my head, I am sure there are others that can add to this. An interim superintendent should bring stability to this District, not more chaos.

What next????


anniej Feb. 26, 2012 @ 9:37 p.m.

well there SydneyJean - as they say YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.

and to think, these 'were just off the top of your head'!

here are a few more:

when 'brandara; found out the principal and ap of castle park were 'borrowing' about $98,000.00 of the kids asb funds, rather than have them prosecuted - 'brandara' shakes their hands, hands them their vacation and sick pay and waves them goodbye with a solid recommendation.

find out the head of food services is acting in a less than honorable manner, she too, like 'the gandara' is given the golden parachute. and what about those trips she took to peddle her products on the tax payers dime. no problem, he preferred to simply sweep the corruption under the rug.

when alerted by Ms. Stubbs that her name had been forged, 'brandara' chooses to ask the reputable Ms. Stubbs to leave the district.

when asked to bring in an independent auditor for prop o 'brandara' brings back the company his old friend works for eric hall & assoc. to date no forensic audit has been voted on.

when 'brandara' was asked about the second opinion given to a a board member, 'brandara' does nothing, denies its existence, then slips up and identifies such a report but refuses to release it - you know the old 'client privilege' thing again.

when the union tribune continues the alleged corruption at the district, what does 'brandara' do - he meets with a group and alleges the district is being misrepresented.

when faced with replacing the ad, what does the 'brandara' do, he brings his old friend to not only act as ad but to also act as legal counsel for his ponzi scheme 'funds for education'.

and now i am told by district employees, 'brandara' continues on a weekly basis, to threaten to leave - something about carrying around his resignation letter in his back pocket REALLY? well do the taxpayers, community, and district a favor - pull it out, flatten out all of the wrinkles and TURN IT IN!

these SydneyJean, were off the top of my head! hope to see you at next months board meeting.


eastlaker Feb. 27, 2012 @ 9:31 a.m.

By all accounts, Sweetwater UHSD is completely out of control.

Who can step in to stop all this?

Dr. Brand is coming up with more schemes than--sadly--someone on the upswing of their hypomanic phase.

It is apparent he is the type of individual that survives by creating chaos and trying to keep everyone else off-balance.

We do not need the insanity.

Gandara's criminal activities have done more than enough harm.

What does it take to get this bunch yanked from their positions and replaced with reasonable, honest people who are genuinely interested in running a school district that sets a priority on educating students?


anniej Feb. 27, 2012 @ 12:11 p.m.

"What does it take to get this bunch yanked from their positions and replaced with reasonable, honest people who are genuinely interested in running a school district that sets a priority on educating students?"

at this point it is called RECALL, they were given a chance to RESIGN, they failed to take it so now it is time for we, the voters, to take matters into our own hands and correct what is wrong.


erupting Feb. 27, 2012 @ 10:07 a.m.

More people like you to come to board mtgs. and speak your mind. It's always the same people.


joepublic Feb. 27, 2012 @ 11:21 a.m.

anniej: Regarding your response to placing the indicted school board members on paid leave; Yes, Drand is right, they are innocent until proven guilty, and that's why alleged criminals are placed on PAID leave. They should not be punished monetarily since they are innocent, but they shouldn't be in positions of power pending their trial.


anniej Feb. 27, 2012 @ 12:07 p.m.

Joepublic: while i agree innocent until proven guilty - i read the union trib's pdf files emails typed by ricasa during work hours at her position at southwestern - the fact that she typed them while on her job no big deal to me but it was what she was referring to in those emails - pay to play. additionally quinones's emails as well, pay to play - she was reminding people that she 'took care of people who took care of her' (paraphrase) - she was referring to a state paid position that she wanted in sacramento. so, unlike many cases where we see no hard evidence until the trial - there was no taking those email conversations out of context - they were what they were, corruption (in my opinion).

additionally you are absolutely right, they should NOT be in positions where they have power over how, where, and what amounts of OUR tax dollars should be spent.

quite frankly all i want is for them to step down, give up their seats and NEVER EVER hold another public office. public office should be held by those wanting to serve, now those wanting to benefit personally or politically.


joepublic Feb. 27, 2012 @ 5:35 p.m.

anniej: I believe Southwestern placed Ricasa on paid leave. Now that's the right thing to do. Sweetwater should do the same. By the way, sorry about the misspelling of the interim superintendent's name. I meant to type "Brandara".


anniej Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:33 p.m.

Joepublic: yes, ricasa and quinones should both be asked to step down, not sure if legally we can put them on leave with pay as they are elected officials vs employees.

your point is well taken as they are voting on agenda items that have financial impact. then there are the upcoming negotiations with the unions.

district is stating that over 200 teaching positions will most like be gone, all they while they are using district resources and money to go forward with their 'charter school'.

amazing, they are cutting teaching positions for the 7-12 grades (remember we ARE A HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT) - yet going forward with a charter school for kindergardeners. yes folks, 'brandara' continues to disappoint. all are questioning his focus or lack thereof.


Visduh Feb. 29, 2012 @ 9:56 a.m.

Refried has raised an interesting matter, and that is just how far the state is expected to go in financing the schools. Today it appears as if few new schools are being financed out of the revenue stream provided by the state, and that this has been true for at least twenty years. We are at a point when if there is no bond issue, there are no new schools. But worse yet is the fact that maintenence of the existing physical plant is now generally neglected in most districts until the schools are a disgrace. Then the district comes to the voters with a bond issue for, among other things, repair and refurbishment of the existing plant. Why does the plant need repair and refurbishment? Because, as mentioned already, the routine maintenance has not been done. This pattern is followed in good times and in bad. When the financial picture improves, the newfound affluence pays for teacher pay boosts, hiring of legions of administrators who supposedly "support" the classroom teachers, and paying the top administrators their princeley salaries. The taxpayers are borrowing long (these bonds have 20-30 year maturities) to spend short, on maintenence that won't last that long.

Now Brandara is spending money that won't be repaid for decades on iPads that have a service life of no more than two to three years. In 2030, South Bay taxpayers will be paying principal and interest on iPads that were thrown away in 2014. That's just outrageous.


eastlaker Feb. 29, 2012 @ 1:15 p.m.

You are correct. The story needs further distribution, but we are not seeing anything from the U-T at the moment; the local Star-News isn't saying anything (hoping the status quo will remain? too afraid to speak out? --who knows...).

Sweetwater should not be allowed to continue being run into the ground, which is to say, the insiders/pay to players need to be given the boot--with no golden parachutes. And Gandara should be prosecuted and forced to return all his ill-gotten gains.


anniej March 1, 2012 @ 10:35 a.m.

there was a story in the ut this morning all about the IPADS, what was left out of the article and the reporting were the comments from community and the reporter doing her due diligence by doing her own research.

thank goodness we have the fair reporting of this news agency - turning out to be the only paper where we can read FACTS.


anniej March 1, 2012 @ 10:33 a.m.

you raise many excellent points. what is most troubling is the fact that brandara appears to have misspoke when he advised the community and board that 'apple' would be teaching the it dept how to repair broken or cracked screens.

it appears that 'apple' does not repair cracked or broken screens. hmmmm,

sweetwaters it dept is made up of how few individuals? they recently let the head of the it dept go - allegedly much had gone on i.e. 'the gandara' having access or district employees emails. rumors of hard drives missing.

unfortunately what current exists is lack of trust in the interim as well as the board. not much to say,

where there is no trust there is no progress - and it is the STUDENTS who suffer.


eastlaker March 2, 2012 @ 1:31 p.m.

So--that is partly how Gandara ruled--by spying on staff email, and then possibly suggesting threats. Wow. Can we please get to the bottom of it all, and then work to start fresh?

But in order for that to happen, the current Board of Trustees--those of whom who have not lived up to their responsibilities--and the acting Superintendent, Dr. Brand, will need to come clean and then depart.


Susan Luzzaro March 1, 2012 @ 4:15 p.m.

Visduh, your take on the longer financial view, taxpayers paying the principal and interest on ipads when they are long gone is interesting.

I believe a new ipad is due out any day now. It will be interesting, as things progress, to see how each ipad generation interacts with the last.


Visduh March 21, 2012 @ 9:36 a.m.

One of the tenets of financial management that applies to public as well as private entities is that the investment made should have a reasonable service life and that anything undertaken to finance that investment should be no longer than that life. While it may not be readily apparent to the public at large, if you think about it, it makes so much good sense that violating it ought to be unthinkable. On a personal level, it would be akin to using your home equity loan to buy a car (service life of seven years at best) and then paying it off over twenty, twenty-five or thirty years. Years and years after the car is but a memory, you're still paying back the principal and some interest. And, pray tell, what do you do when the car is worn out and you are still paying for it? You need a new one, and how do you pay for that one?

The situation with these "technology" devices is actually even worse, because they are obsolete or at least quite obsolescent in fewer than five years. You mention the arrival of the new generation of iPad and wonder how that will affect the older ones. Well, it will not be for the better, that's for sure.

If this sort of thinking were going on in most corporations, the CEO and CFO would be sacked as soon as Wall Street learned about it. But in the public sector, and especially in public education, and worse yet in Sweetwater, that's business as usual.


miagd March 1, 2012 @ 9:10 p.m.

iPads ROCK!!! The SUHSD and most districts in California are facing never seen before budget problems. The schools already have textbooks. There are computer labs. In the times there's been money, students have fallen behind. Do you really think an electronic device is going to have that same student succeed? Technology RULES!!! But, it is only as good as the person motivated to use it (or misuse it, as there will certainly be students playing games during instructional time). I CAN wait for the future. I look forward to a slim iPad, rather than 25 pounds of books, into the hands of all students. For right now, it is a fiscally irresponsible expenditure.


dbdriver March 5, 2012 @ 2:08 p.m.

While, like others, I am a fan of technology, I question the funding sources the district is planning on utilizing. Yes, the Prop O funding does include technology, I would have thought that the funding would go more for technology infrastructure, as opposed to "textbooks"

What concerns me more, however, is that while we do want to get our students up to speed on the latest technology out there, I feel the district is going about this all backwards. I know they want to lure incoming 7th graders from charter schools. But with how fast technology changes, by the time those 7th graders graduate, the technology may be obsolete. If the district is going to do this, they need to work from the top down. Graduating 12th graders are going to need to know current technology before the 7th graders will if they are going to be more successful.


anniej March 6, 2012 @ 9:09 p.m.

"I would have thought that the funding would go more for technology infrastructure, as opposed to 'textbooks."

your words are the words of the taxpayers in the south bay - however, our voices continue to be ignored.

it is all about the ponzi schemes and games that brandara continues to play. he has not been able to do a thing for the current enrollment - he has chosen to open up a charter school for elementary school children promising them IPADS as well - along with free after school day care. now IPADS for 7th graders yet those in the community who have taken it upon themselves to do the research are finding many holes in the brandara's statements. the majority of our board is simply skipping along not questioning a thing - while board member lopez AS USUAL has raised many very pertinent inquiries during the board meetings - she consistently remains the lone NO vote.

hard to believe that the current board is the best we have to offer our students, parents and taxpayers.


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