May 1st BOE Meeting Agenda (updated)

(Updated 4/30 – added in a link to the Legislative Report in item 7.01)

Yes.  Another meeting.  But come on out anyway! 

Attending a JeffCo Board Meeting is like being at a live taping of a ‘Reality’ TV show.  It’s great fun watching WNW scheme and obfuscate while trying to avoid the issues Dahlkemper and Fellman keep raising…until you remember that this is not some contrived situation created by the networks for entertainment.  This is real Reality, and the stakes are not a bit of notoriety and money, but our children’s education and future.  

So come out for the show…it beats “Hell’s Kitchen” by a mile…and is far more important.

BOE Meeting 2014-05-01
Date and Time:  Thursday, May 1, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.
Where:Bear Creek Highschool (9800 W. Dartmouth Pl., Lakewood, CO in the auditorium)

Agenda

1. Study/Dialogue Session (5:30 p.m.)

1.02 Budget Development Update
Type:
Information
Goals: EL-5, Financial Planning/Budgeting

PURPOSE: For staff to answer any questions with regard to the 2014-2015 budget development process and to provide an update on any legislative actions that may have occurred. New information on legislative action may or may not be available depending on the outcome and timing of the legislative process.

BACKGROUND: There was discussion of the district’s budget at the Board of Education meetings on December 12, January 16, February 27, and March 13. The Board provided staff with direction regarding budget priorities for the development of the 2014/2015 budget at the March 13 and April 3 Board of Education meetings.

The 2014/2015 Proposed Budget is scheduled for the 1st Public Hearing on June 5 and 2nd Public Hearing and Budget Adoption on June 19.

The Board of Education must adopt the 2014/2015 Budget prior to June 30, 2014.

(Currently no downloadable material been provided.)

Our comments:  This one will probably have some more fireworks.  Last Thursday night (April 24th) the Board had a presentation on the still open aspects of the budget.  Below is a summary of the disagreements:

Compensation Allocation ($11,725,100) – Witt stated this was increase not a decrease.  Dahlkemper pointed out it was originally $4 million higher before WNW cut it.

Charter Allocation ($3.7 million, aprox $585 per student based on current enrollment) – This will not show up as an expense, but rather as a reduction in revenue, since the money is passed straight through to the charter schools.

Elementary Math Instruction ($4 million one time, $1.8 million on-going) – Big surprise here.  Witt said he wants a ‘deep dive’ into it because he is not sure “we need it”.  The deep-dive should occur during agenda points 6.01 & 6.02.  There is pressure to increase the reserve fund.  It was originally going to get at least $2 million, until WNW diverted that money to help fund the $3.7 million increase to the Charter schools. Of course, how WNW then intends for the District to meet the enhanced math goals WNW set for it without investing in the new math program is puzzling to say the least.

Planned Reductions – This is the reserve fund.  Currently the forecast is to keep the fund at a flat 10% of existing revenue.  This is NOT conservative and is on the low end of what Moody’s says the District needs to maintain its AA bond rating. The numbers do not count inflation, employee raises, or unexpected cuts in state funding.

End of Study Session (6:30 p.m.)

2. Preliminary:

(Call to order, Welcome, Pledge, Roll Call, Agenda Approval)

3. Honors, Recognition and School Reports:

3.01 Milken Family Foundation: Award to Jose Martinez III, teacher at Bear Creek
3.02 2013-2014 Swimming State Champions:  Evergreen High School champions
3.03 2013-2014 Wrestling State Champions: Aravad West Wrestlers

4. Public Agenda Part One

4.01 Correspondence – May 1, 2014 (click here for the list)
4.02 Public Comment (Agenda Related)

Our comments:  There is a good chance that they will roll the Public Comment on non-Agenda related items into this session.  This is pretty common.

5. Consent Agenda

Our comments:  A lot of charter school contracts are either up for renewal, have contract addenda that have to be agreed to in order to comply with new state laws,  or are looking for expansion of their charter to include additional grades.

6. Ends Discussion

6.01 Progress on Board Goals: Math and Writing Instruction (Ends 1, 2)
Type: Discussion, Information
PERTINENT FACTS:

1. On April 3, the Board of Education postponed the presentation from staff on the progress in meeting Board goals for math instruction to the May 1, 2014 agenda.
2. In December 2013, the Board of Education added goals to its Ends policies. Ends 1 and Ends 2 include goals for math:

  • The percentage of proficient/advanced fourth grade students in math on TCAP will increase from 77% to 80% by August 2015. (Ends 1)
  • Every student will achieve one year’s growth, or more as needed to ‘catch up,’ in each year of school and be ready for the next level. The percentage of ALP students who have growth measures over 50 will increase in math from 60 to 62. (Ends 2)

3. In December 2013, the Board of Education added goals to its Ends policies. Ends 1 and Ends 2 include goals for writing:

  • The percentage of proficient/advanced students in writing on TCAP will increase by August 2014 to:
    • Elementary – 64%
    • Middle level – 66%
    • High school – 59%  (Ends 1)
  • The percentage of ALP students who have growth measures over 50 will increase:
    • In writing from 54 to 56  (Ends 2)

4. Dr. Heather Beck, chief academic officer; Priscilla Straughn, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Sue Chandler, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Matt Flores, director, Educational Research and Design; Achievement Directors Brady Stroup, Karen Quanbeck and Mike Freeman, and Maple Grove Principal Ian Stone will present information on math instruction related to the district’s plan to meet the goals in math.

5. Dr. Heather Beck, chief academic officer; Priscilla Straughn, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Sue Chandler, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Rhonda Hatch Rivera, school improvement specialist; Catherine Baldwin Johnson, director of ESL/Dual Language; and Dr. Blanche Kapushion, director of Gifted and Talented, will present information on writing instruction related to the district’s plan to meet the goals in writing.

(Click for the Math Presentation and for the Writing Presentation)

Our comments:  The educational process is one that is constantly evolving.  As we learn more about ourselves, how we learn, how different children learn differently, and what levels of understanding and skill are required for future skills, so our methods and materials for teaching math and writing should change as well. 

The Board has set higher goals for the District, which is a very good thing.  Our teachers and support staff should be stretching to always find a newer, better way of reaching our children.  But the Board must also remember that while it sets the goals, it also must provide the resources to achieve those goals!  In Agenda item 7.01, the Board proposes sending resolutions to the state legislature that, in part, rail against unfunded mandates from the Federal and State governments.  They should heed their own advice and not insist on improvements without giving the teachers the materials and resources need to achieve them.

6.02 Contract Award: Math Expressions (EL-7)

Type: Action
Recommended Action: To authorize the director of Purchasing to enter into an agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the purchase of Math Expressions materials and professional development for the approximate total amount of $2,000,000.
Goals: EL-7, Asset Protection
PERTINENT FACTS:

  1. In accordance with Board executive limitation policy 7, Asset Protection, “the superintendent may not contractually obligate the Board to expenditures greater than $250,000.
  2. On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the Board of Education gave direction to include funds in the draft 2014-2015 budget for new math resources and professional development aligning with our Colorado Academic Standards.
  3. Our current math resource, Investigations, does not provide the depth and pacing needed for our new standards.
  4. Math Expressions ©2013 aligns with our Colorado Academic Standards and has a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application.
  5. Math Expressions has gone through the textbook approval process for Jefferson County and is an approved resource.

(Click for the contract and summary)

Our comments:  What happens here is totally dependent on how the Board receives the presentations just before it.  If Witt moves against it, we suspect it will be in large part because he wants to cover the $4 million of increased spending the Board is proposing ($3.7 million to charter schools and $840 thousand to Gifted & Talented, less the deleted $600 thousand for free full-day kindergarten).  Doing so will ease the tightness of the budget while still allowing WNW to pursue their goal of charter school equalization.  For them, it could be a simple choice:  fund a better math curriculum for 87% of K-3 graders while increasing full day kindergarten for the kids who need it the most, or give the money to the 8% that make up charter school kids and the 5% that make up Gifted & Talented.

We will see from WNW’s viewpoint which one needs it more….

6.03 Jeffco Social Media Policies and Procedures (EL-11)

Type: Information
PERTINENT FACTS:

  1. The Board of Education requested a review the district’s existing policy on staff use of the Internet, andsocial media guidelines.
  2. Lynn Setzer, chief communications officer, and Lorie Gillis, chief financial officer, will present an overview of this work to the Board.

Our comments:  This is the briefing that Julie Williams wanted when she over-reacted to some tweets taken out of context, going back and forth between two friends who are volunteers for the schools and District.  Though the tweets were not at Williams or the school district and though they contained no has tags, Williams wanted the two removed from their volunteer positions, and some action that would ban anyone connected to the District from saying anything bad about her or the District.  Is this going to be a proposal for an infringement on free speech?  This review is what Newkirk and Witt managed to talk her down to.  See our March 6th post if you want more background.

7. Discussion Agenda

7.01 Legislative Update (EL-11)
Type: Action, Discussion
Recommended Action: to determine positions on pending legislation for the 2014 legislative session and determine a position on the resolution regarding state education funding and the PARCC testing.
PERTINENT FACTS:

  1. The Board of Education adopts positions to monitor, support, or oppose legislation to guide the Jeffco lobbyist in his work at the legislature.
  2. As the Legislative Session will conclude on May 7, Mr. Ed Bowditch, district lobbyist, will provide and overview of the session’s activities and any pending issues.
  3. At the April 24 special meeting, Board member Julie Williams requested the Board of Education take action to support HB14-1294, Student Data Collection Privacy Protections Administered by the Department of Education, and SB14-204, Student and Teacher Data Privacy and Security Act.  Additionally, she requested that a resolution on state education funding and PARCC testing be discussed and taken up for action.

(Click for the resolutions and for the Legislative Report)

Our observations:  The first resolution complains that the state has reduced education for schools while adding new requirements.  The second resolution says that the PARCC testing set up is a violation of state law and that the District supports legislation that would delay it, while blocking state and federal influence on education.

8. Public Agenda

8.01 Public Comment (Not On Agenda)

Click here to sign up to speak on a non-agenda item.

This item may be rolled into Agenda item 4.01.

9. Develop Next Agenda

9.01 Board Work Calendar
9.02 Special and Regular Meetings of May 5, 9, 10, 15 and June 5, 2014

Our comments:  You always want to stay for this!  Here is where WNW will try to quietly slide in any new thing they do not want to call attention to.  Additionally, Dahlkemper and Fellman have used this section to try to get things on the Agenda that WNW would rather not have to face.  If you like fireworks, this is generally when there are lot of them.

Late Saturday Post: April 24th BOE Meeting Review

(This is one of the longest posts we have done, but it is because a lot happened at what was supposed to be a simple ‘working’ special meeting.  We trimmed down a lot, but at several points decided we had to go with the verbatim dialog so you can ‘hear’ the actual tone of the discussions/arguments.  This also meant it took much longer as we had to transcribe the appropriate sections of the audio recordings of the meeting.  We think it was worth the effort and hope you do as well. – jcsbw)

Opening the Meeting

Continue reading

4/12 Saturday Post: What Can I Do?

A commentary from Jeffco Guardian:

“What can I do?”

This is the number one question heard these days when the topic of the ongoing and controversial Jeffco board majority actions comes up.  It comes from everyone:  parents, teachers, grandparents, coworkers and neighbours.  People are feeling helpless and, unfortunately, somewhat hopeless.  They see a the Board majority of WNW pushing forward their own agenda regardless of what anyone says about it.  They do this under the pretense that they were elected to do just that.

Continue reading

April 3rd Meeting Review – Yet another view:

Study Session

1.02 Superintendent Search Update: Bill Newman of Ray & Associates – the firm heading up the district’s superintendent search – presented on the themes from the stakeholder forums that were held last month. You can see their report at here. Page 4 is interesting in that you can see what the different groups’ priorities are, including the BOE.

Mr. Newman pointed out 2 discrepancies where BOE priority gave priority to something other stakeholders did not:

Quality/characteristic #16: “Non-traditional or “hybrid” with background in military, business and/or education” – was ranked as a #3 priority for the BOE (with 3 votes) vs a ranking of 33 for teachers, 32 for administrators, 32 for support staff, 30 for parents, 30 for students, 32 for non-parent community member and 32 for other.  That’s out of a possibility of 33.  Wow.  That’s a pretty clear message! Continue reading

Denied Charter On April 3 Meeting Agenda?

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In November, the school board voted to deny Cornerstone Academy’s charter application.  Among the reasons for denial:  lack of financial solvency, low enrollment numbers, no plan for serving Special Needs children, and no location site.

One board member said in November that she felt the application was very incomplete and not well thought out, stating the application failed to meet many of the minimum requirements of much of the charter school rubric.

The district’s accountability committee, SPAC (Strategic Planning and Advisory Council) also recommended the board deny Cornerstone’s application.

Following WNW’s swearing in at the end of November, Witt commented that he wanted to revisit Cornerstone’s application to avoid the expense of an appeal process, implying the new board intends to allow Cornerstone to move forward despite its many issues and the application’s failure to meet many standards.

Here is a link to a letter from the Colorado Department of Education declining Cornerstone’s application for a Title V Charter School Start Up Grant of $215,000. http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9D883B7E48FB/$file/Cornerstone%20Academy%20of%20CO%202013-14%20grant%20CCSP.pdf

From November 7, here is a link to Cornerstone’s 6 year budget proposal http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CWSTJ5FEC04/$file/CAC%20Full%20Capacity%206-yr%2010-21-2013.pdf

Here is a link to the rubric for charter school review of Cornerstone referenced above where you can read Cornerstone’s failure to provide goals for assessments, to explain where partnership money will come from, to provide any significant time for staff development, to mention the READ Act, to provide a solvent budget for the first year or provide for Special Ed Services.

Below is a letter from John Peery, who oversaw charter schools in Jeffco and who has recently resigned his position, in which he explains his issues with Cornerstone’s application: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CZ4Q9787A31/$file/EX%20J%202013-memo%20to%20Supt%20CAC%20%202nd%20budget.pdf

We have not yet seen the agenda for the April 3 meeting but prior board discussion indicated Cornerstone would be added to the April 3 agenda.

While there is some justification of the need for a charter like Cornerstone in the south area, a number of questions remain unanswered about this particular charter’s application.  To approve the application of Cornerstone without an answer to these questions could prove to be a burden on our district and another financially irresponsible decision on the part of WNW.

Then there is always the question of our school district’s limited resources.  Any time a new charter school is approved, it drains money from all of our schools, including other charters.

You can read all the documents on Cornerstone Academy here http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public by clicking on meetings, then scrolling to the November 7, 2013 meeting agenda.

UPDATE:  Lisa Cook wrote about what happened regarding Cornerstone Academy and the conditional approval at length here:http://www.examiner.com/article/new-jeffco-charter-school-given-conditional-go-ahead

It boils down to this: they need to meet the conditions, which include the concerns about special education, parental involvement, and especially budget and tie by April 24. If they don’t, the application is denied. If they meet all the conditions except a site acceptable to the district, they’ll be given additional time to pursue a site, which might include delaying their opening date by a year.

The decision was made at the Feb. 6 regular board meeting, and the recorded minutes are available on the Jeffco Schools website. Supporting documents should be available in BoardDocs.