The president-elect of the American Association of School Administrators is under scrutiny for spending up to $20,000 in local school district funds for promotional materials highlighting himself and his district at a time when he was seeking that leadership position.
Bill Hill, the superintendent of the Deer Valley district in Phoenix, used the money for brochures, CD-ROMs, posters, newsletters, and other items. Much of the material was circulated last February in Orlando, Fla., at the AASA’s annual convention, where Mr. Hill won the office of president-elect by about 400 votes out of more than 4,000 cast.
District spokesman Timothy Tait said Mr. Hill’s main goal in purchasing the items was to promote the growing, 29,000- student district to prospective employees.
“We feel the money was spent in an appropriate manner to promote the district,” he said.
The district school board hired an outside lawyer last month to review the spending. The lawyer, John R. McDonald, concluded in a Dec. 26 letter to the board that Deer Valley could use district money to pay dues to the AASA, but that it could not use local dollars to support Mr. Hill’s candidacy.
The school board also has asked Arizona’s attorney general for an opinion, and it met last month in executive session to discuss the superintendent’s expenditures for the AASA conference. Mr. Tait said last week the board was waiting for the attorney general’s opinion before deciding if the superintendent should reimburse the district.
Mr. Hill, who received a 22 percent pay raise last June, declined to comment. However, he has agreed to comply with the board’s decision, Mr. Tait said.
Higher District Profile
While some promotional items highlighted Mr. Hill’s candidacy and accomplishments, others publicized the district, including newspaper articles written by the superintendent. Mr. Tait said brochures produced for the AASA convention have also been used at employment-recruiting events.
In another effort, the superintendent produced a monthly newsletter, Leadership News, which included “points of pride” about the district and was mailed to colleagues nationwide. Mr. Tait described the newsletter as a consumer-friendly publication to bring more attention to the district. He said Mr. Hill stopped publishing the newsletter prior to the convention in order to make sure the publication did not violate an AASA guideline that prohibits mass mailings by candidates to members.
Barbara Knisely, a spokeswoman for the 14,000-member AASA, said candidates must abide by the group’s election guidelines. She said no complaints about Mr. Hill’s campaign had been filed.
Mr. Hill, a member of the AASA executive committee since 1998, will assume the presidency of the Arlington, Va.-based group in July for a one-year term.
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2002 edition of Education Week as AASA President-Elect’s Promotional Spending Reviewed