4.2.15 BOE meeting preview

writers_forum

Don’t miss these exciting discussions at the BOE meeting on Thursday April 2nd.

Strategic Compensation – This is a report back to the board about how strategic compensation, which went to 20 trial schools as part of a special grant program, have performed.  Does extra money make a difference for student performance, or teacher performance?  Find out, at least as regards these schools.  By the way, this grant, has NO relevance to compensation negotiations because the amount of money needed to roll this out to all schools simply does not exist.  $39M over 5 years to 20 schools means almost $60M per year across our 150 schools, per year.  On the positive side, here are the take away findings from the report.

Research findings from 2014 analysis found:

– Higher levels of implementation of quality practices were associated with higher levels of student growth.

– High-implementing schools outperformed low-implementing schools:

• in reading by 1 percent

• in writing by 5 percent

• in mathematics by 15 percent

The Consent Agenda is long, and covers many, many contracts being awarded from behind the scenes computer support, to security and safety.  This author made no attempt to read them all, but you can though here.

Budget Survey Results – The biggest item of the night that is completely relevant for all citizens of Jeffco is the outcomes of the budget surveys and public meetings.  Top priorities for one time money was Facilities/Capital and Reserves.  For ongoing money it was Compensation Increases and Facilities/Capital.  It is worth noting that the community really started getting outraged in 2014 when a similar survey was ignored, and the board pushed for its Charter Funding Equalization.  Will they listen this time?

The main outcome of the survey questions for priorities are:

Question #1: Operating Needs – Top 3

Competitive employee compensation (58 percent)

Targeted focus on improving early literacy (39 percent)

Increase staff (37 percent)

Question #2: Capital Needs

Maintenance of existing facilities (59 percent)

Question #3: Percentage of Funding

50/50 split between operating and capital (40 percent)

Question #4: High Growth

Recommend redrawing boundaries (35 percent)

Of course there are many, many other questions that were asked, and answered in this presentation.  Hear them firsthand at the board meeting, or read more here.

Budget requests from staff are also out.  With regards to compensation, there are some modest increases,  such as a proposal of a 1% increase for most employees.  The pool of money to negotiate increases is quite small, and charter schools are getting a very small increase of almost 0.1%.  Some highlights are here:

  • PERA increase – Supplemental Amortization Equalization Disbursement (SAED) inc .50% $ 2,025,000
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) additional benefits $ 3,000,000
  • 1% Compensation increase $ 5,200,000
  • Compensation increase for targeted employees $ 1,152,000
  • Substitute teacher pay changes $ 763,000
  • Subtotal employee compensation package increase $ 12,140,000

Or, read the whole presentation, or better yet, come to the board meeting! Or attempt to watch the the live stream, assuming it doesn’t freeze, lose the sound or otherwise malfunction as has happened to several of our viewers. The study session begins at 5:30 and the regular board meeting at 6:30.

On the Discussion Agenda are four items that may be of interest to our readers.  They include:

  • Legislative update
  • Outdoor Lab
  • Boundary modification for Stober and Vivian Elementary
  • Declaration of Surplus Property on Green Mountain

Click this link to found out more.

As always, keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

3.29.15 Teacher Licensure Matters

Your Childs Education

A “Highly Effective Educator” in every classroom. That is the term that JeffCo Schools and the Jefferson County Education Association use to specify the kind of teacher they want in every classroom in JeffCo. But what that means seems to be up for debate, and a few more questions were raised when the board majority heard an explanation of teacher licensure after adding the topic as an agenda item for the Feb. 19 study session.

First of all, teacher licensure is a state function, not a county function. The state sets requirements, manages the applications, and the renewals. What a person needs to be licensed for a given position is set at the state level and not by the county (or district). The requirements vary by position. Most teaching positions require only a bachelors degree, in the content area of interest, but then things get complicated. A degree in education or “alternative licensure” paths are both allowed. Some state colleges and universities offer a second bachelors degree in education, for example, and a person with a BA in education can count that toward their license. Teachers who follow that path obtain the “800 contact hours,” spend time in a classroom, and learn the basic ropes. Details of such a program at the University of Colorado Boulder are found here.

Similar situations exist for alternative licensure. One slight but perhaps important distinction is that you can get endorsement in only one area for alternative licensure. So, for example, a person could not get licensed to teach both math and science. This may make hiring of teachers with alternative licensure less flexible.

With the new Board Majority, perhaps the biggest potential pitfall around licensing is the additional funding they are sending to charter schools. Charter schools can hire teachers based on their own criteria and may not even require a teacher to hold a license in Colorado. All they have to do is request a waiver from CDE, and requesting a licensure waiver is considered a “standard waiver.” Here is an example from a recent application. All proposed Jeffco charter schools have to apply to the state, and all ask for these waivers as a matter of course. Mountain Phoenix, an existing charter school, has done so. This equals more Jeffco funding potentially going to more teachers who are not licensed. But what about those “highly qualified” teachers?

To be declared as “highly qualified” in Colorado is also a state level distinction, but it is dictated by “No Child Left Behind” and other Federal guidelines. You can see some of the gory details here. To be declared “highly qualified” one needs to:

  • hold a bachelor degree or higher
  • maintain a teaching license
  • demonstrate mastery in their content area

In 2012-2013, 99.49% of classrooms in Colorado had a highly qualified teacher according to these criteria.

Now “highly qualified”, as a legal term is defined, but “highly effective” is where there is more nuance. This is part of Senate Bill 191. If you want a good bedtime read, here is a link to the final SB 191 rules.

It is interesting to crawl through this document, however, because it is completely silent on the difference between effective and highly effective. Furthermore, Jeffco’s pay plan is predicated on a pay bump for highly effective teachers relative to effective teachers. The district will literally bankrupt itself if it meets its goal of having a highly effective teacher in every classroom. It may be an admirable goal, but, if there is pay for performance, then it is an unviable approach.

A different approach, and one supported by JCEA and district staff (though maybe not by Mr. Witt) is to pay for advanced degrees. Most subject areas do not require a master’s degree (or higher) to teach or be in a given position but other jobs require an advanced degree. Speech pathologists and social workers require a master’s degree in order to practice. In addition, any high school teacher who teaches a concurrent enrollment class (in which students receive both high school and college credit), must have a master’s degree.

The district staff presented a plan at the March 5 meeting that included a bump in base salary for master’s degrees. Jeffco was compared to other local districts that do compensate master’s degrees. For Jeffco to remain competitive and be able to hire the best, most qualified candidates, it was suggested that teachers with master’s degrees receive more pay. There is data that suggests this practice improves student performance at the high school level and for minorities, and data that refutes this — sometimes in the same report.

So in summary, while teacher licensure, a state function helps guarantee that each child has a highly qualified teacher, and SB-191 purports to work toward each classroom having a highly effective teacher, the devil truly is in the details. If every teacher was rated highly effective, then the district could not afford it. A population as large as Jeffco’s teacher population guarantees a distribution of performance. The district should hire the best, nurture them, work with them to have a quality workplace, and pay them a salary commensurate with their skill and effectiveness.

Keep watching, keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

3.19.2015 – Notes from the March 5 meeting

We’ve already posted about John Newkirk’s surprise motion on the Jefferson Area plan, but would like to quickly cover some of the other topics from the March 5 meeting so you’re fully informed for tonight’s meeting.

There was a 4th quarter budget report and while most of it was typical, it’s worth noting that staff turnover is higher than expected. Also of note: the Two Roads charter school paid off its district loan. Two other charters who were approved for a loan and a loan increase last year, Mountain Phoenix and Collegiate Academy, respectively, are not borrowing currently.

There was also a compensation update—which is a topic on the March 19 agenda too. HR Director Amy Weber told the board that while it’s impossible for the district to make up for years of not having pay raises, they are talking about strategic compensation adjustments to recognize those staff members. Weber also suggested the board commit to some of the district’s proposals that night to help retain staff. (And no, they didn’t, which is why it’s on the agenda again.)

The district’s recommendations include the following:

  • adjusting salary ranges and individual salaries of principals
  • standardizing assistant principal work day calendars at 215 for high schools, 210 for middle schools and 205 for elementary schools
  • adjusting salaries for existing teachers in hard-to-fill positions so that new hires are not making more than existing staff
  • adjusting salaries for existing teachers who have a masters degree but are not being compensated for it. That only affects 75 teachers throughout the district, but those 75 teachers either came to the district or earned a masters degree during the period in which the district has not compensated for it.

One major — and deserved — recommendation is that substitute teachers see a compensation increase. Weber said that substitute teachers saw their pay cut by 10 percent in 2011, and they have remained at those compensation levels. The increase, if approved, would affect 1,700 substitute teachers.

Another major recommendation was that Weber pushed for compensating for master’s degrees. She told the board the district would be unable to hire the talent they need if they refuse to do so.

Staff recommendations for the hiring season include compensation for up to seven years of experience (bundled beyond that), for master’s degrees, pay for designated hard-to-fill positions that the district has consistently struggled to fill because pay is not competitive (i.e., speech pathologists. According to Weber, one speech pathologist who interviewed with Jeffco found that she would receive a $17,000 pay cut by moving from her current position to one in Jeffco. Needless to say, that’s not the kind of offer that attracts top-notch professionals). Weber’s team also recommended compensating teacher librarians and counselors for additional workdays.

Response from WNW was tepid at best. Witt warned that compensation increases need to be viewed as one-time events. Because potential cuts are forecast for net year, he said the district should be careful with their commitments.

Witt, unsurprisingly, is also opposed to master’s degrees that are not in a teacher’s content area. Weber was quick to point out that the district doesn’t intent to comp teachers if they their master’s is unrelated to what they do, but Witt continued to press his point. In fact, he repeated his assertion that teachers shouldn’t be compensated for unrelated master’s degrees that it was hard to tell if he couldn’t hear Weber saying that the district had no plans to do that, or whether (more likely) Witt was trying to throw suspicion on paying any teachers for a master’s degree by insinuating that tons of teachers got random, unrelated master’s degrees just to get a pay raise. As if!

Dan McMinimee jumped in to point out that there should be opportunities for teachers to be compensated for master’s degrees and also pointed out that the district was already into the hiring season, so they need to make themselves attractive to potential hires.

Witt requested more information, hence compensation’s reappearance on the March 19 agenda. The new March 19 presentation includes more information about what the district considers to be related master’s degrees and some other clarifying details.

Public comment included many of the usual cast of characters, both friend and foe. Of note: several people speaking in favor of the Jefferson Area plan (the original one, not Plan B).

The Alameda Plan was approved with no surprises. Also, since there’s been some discussion of why a new school isn’t being suggested to deal with overcrowding at Stein: at the February meeting, Terry Elliot explained that Jeffco Schools doesn’t own any land in the Alameda articulation area. Building a new school would require them to buy land and then pay to construct a school.

In northwest Arvada, both the Leyden Rock and Candelas developments have donated a parcel of land that is set aside for a future school. That’s been the policy for most Jeffco communities since about the 1970s (earlier in some places) and those land donations are what produced many of our amazing Jeffco neighborhood schools today.

It’s hard to see how the district could swing both a land purchase and construction costs give the current budget realities and the likelihood (or not) that voters would approve a bond for both. Remember, funds to expand Stein were part of 2008 bond proposal–which was voted down. A renovation is planned, and Board Docs mentions this:  “Conversations with facilities, district leadership, and community members will be scheduled for the Fall of 2015 to discuss the development of a new elementary school to serve the central Lakewood area.”

And now, a few notes on the March 19 agenda. Note that the board intends to vote on the remaining aspects of the Jefferson Area plan. The Wheat Ridge Alliance has withdrawn its support for Plan B, and from the news we’ve heard coming out of this week’s community meetings, the vast majority of parents aren’t interested either. We’ve seen reports that Newkirk himself said he wouldn’t vote for his motion, but we haven’t heard that he’s pledging to vote for the district staff’s recommendations either.

There’s also an update on employee negotiations at the end of the meeting that will be well worth watching.

The full agenda is on Board Docs, here: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public

And the meeting will be streamed. Access to the link should be here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

3.3.2015 – BOE meeting prep

Our thanks to Jeffco Exodus, who shared this post about the upcoming BOE meeting agenda with JCSBW.

Upcoming Board Meeting, Thursday March 5th

The BOE meets this Thursday, March 5th.  If you can’t attend in person, please plan to watch it live from home.  There’s a lot on the agenda – here’s the jist:

STUDY/DIALOGUE SESSION

2.02, 2nd Quarter Financial Report – for the period 1 October through 31 December 2014.  There are four attachments for this agenda item:

  1. Summary letter delivering the Second Quarter Financial Report.

  2. Second Quarter Financial Report – this 62-page report provides the details and basis for the information provided in the summary document above.

  3. 13-page PowerPoint presentation of the Report

2.02, Compensation Update – Amy Weber, Chief HR Officer, will present the compensation update.  Slide 6 shows the average Jeffco salaries paid for principals and assistant principals are ALL lower than the mean for every position.  We don’t know if that mean is based on surrounding districts or market data, but Jeffco is noticeably low.  How will this help Jeffco attract and retain the best and brightest??

REGULAR SESSION

5.01, Correspondence – the BOE received 49 letters regarding last month’s staffing issues at Fletcher Miller.  Huge kudos to the community for standing with FM parents – quick action from FM parents and strong support from the broader community prompted a swift, decisive response from the District.  Thank you!

5.02, Public Comment – sign up online here to address the BOE.

6.03, Charter School Contract Modification:  Two Roads Charter School – the school wants to amend their charter contract to add 6th grade to their existing 7-12th grade contract, and to add a full-time elementary program for full-time athletes who are not able to attend classes during the traditional school day (specifically families from a competitive gymnastics program).  Here is their application and here is the board’s resolution to approve from the consent agenda.

6.06, Resignations/Terminations – this past month, the district has received the following resignations:  2 administrators, 9 licensed, 17 classified.

7.01 Jefferson Area Plan Approval & 7.02 Alameda Area Plan Approval – there are no attachments for these agenda items, but this is when the board will vote on whether to approve the Jefferson Area Plan and the separate Alameda Area Plan. Newkirk and Williams expressed excitement about the Jefferson Area plan at the last board meeting, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop WNW coming up with a new and different plan at the last minute.

7.03, 2015/2016 Budget Update – the board is expected to give preliminary direction to staff for the budget at this meeting, and then final direction on March 19th.  SPECIAL NOTE:  We strongly recommend that you review this presentation.  Slide 28 notes the results of the online budget survey are still “being compiled.”  We’re concerned that the board is being asked to give preliminary direction to staff for the budget before hearing from the 9,121 people who completed the survey.  Also there are NO SLIDES on the input received from SPAC/SAC, principals, or cabinet members.  We see way too much info on the National and State Economy and no input from key stakeholders.  NOT ok!!

8.01, Academic Goal Update:  Post-secondary & Workforce Readiness (Ends 3) – this 12-slide presentation takes a look at 2013-14 indicator rates as to whether the district will meet the Ends 3 goal that, “Every student will graduate career and workforce and/or post-secondary ready.”

JCEA Contract Negotiations

Support Jeffco Kids wants your help.  Due to timing, teachers cannot be present during at least half of the negotiation windows because they’ll be – wait for it – in the classroom teaching our kiddos.  Let’s make a real effort to show up to support our teachers in their place – and please encourage others to do the same.  Thank you!

Wednesday

March 4

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 1

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 15

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 29

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

May 13

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

May 27

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

June 10

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

June 24

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Here is the full schedule of JCEA negotiation sessions.

3.4.2015 – One key update: JCEA says that only the March dates are set. The rest are TBD, as some of the potential dates and times conflict with PARCC testing.

Canceled Wednesday February 25 4-8pm Board Room
Confirmed Planning Session Monday March 2 4-8pm Board Room
Canceled Wednesday March 4 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 9 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday March 14 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 16 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 30 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 1 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 6 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday April 11 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 13 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 15 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 20 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 27 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 29 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 4 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday May 9 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 11 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday May 13 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 18 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday May 27 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 1 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 8 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday June 10 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 15 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday June 20 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 22 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday June 24 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 29 4-8pm Board Room

All sessions are being streamed at this link, and archived recordings should also be available there:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Of note: the much-discussed facilities plan for the northwest Arvada and west Lakewood areas is not on the agenda, though Support Jeffco Kids noted that the expected student growth was flagged in the 2nd quarter financial report.

This last note isn’t related to the upcoming BOE meeting, but may be of interest:

Student Protest Leaders Speak Out

Sign up to attend Chalkbeat’s free event – Rising Up: Voices from Colorado’s Emerging Student Protest Movement. The Wednesday, March 4 (6-8 pm) discussion will feature student protest leaders from Boulder, Jeffco and Denver, plus local and state education officials and policy experts.

Jeffco Students for Change will also host a student-led public meeting/panel discussion on Saturday, March 14th at 9 am (location TBD, but it’s looking like it’ll be at Bear Creek HS).  All BOE members and the superintendent have been invited to be part of the panel along with 6 students from JSFC.  They’ll include a public comment section and a Q&A at the end.  Please plan to attend!  You can RSVP and learn more here.

Jeffco Exodus & Excellence

Are you staying in Jeffco? Are you leaving or thinking of leaving? Please share your stories with Jeffco Exodus (or on Facebook) – and, if you haven’t already, join our network to keep Jeffco informed.

A huge thanks again to Jeffco Exodus for their help with this week’s meeting agenda.

We hope to see you at the meeting on Thursday. If you can’t be there in person, we hope you’ll join us virtually instead.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

11/17 WNW, Due Diligence, & Racism – Monday Do List – BOE Meeting Prep

I love Julie cakeApparently some people up in Evergreen thought that the last few months had been very rough on Witt, Newkirk, Williams, and McMinimee.  

To cheer them up, a group of them got together and threw a little event last Monday night (Nov 10th) at The Barn in Evergreen, complete with a cake!

Who were these thoughtful supporters?  The listed sponsors included six Tea Parties, five Republican groups, Jeffco Conservatives, Jeffco Students First, and the American Freedom Party.

The American Freedom Party?  Who are they?

A quick look at Wikipedia brought us to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s entry on the American Freedom Party:

The American Freedom Party (formerly American Third Position) is a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule. The group is now led by a coterie of prominent white nationalists, including corporate lawyer William D. Johnson, virulent anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald and white nationalist radio host James Edwards. David Duke’s former right-hand man, Jamie Kelso, helps with organizing. The party has big plans to run candidates nationwide.”

The last paragraph of their analysis states that the American Freedom Party…

attempts to appeal to a perhaps more independent or Libertarian demographic, in addition to white nationalists…. Its mission statement is where a mention of the AFP’s true leanings occurs. Toward the bottom…it states that it is a party ‘that represents the interests of White Americans and all Americans who support our interests.’”

All of this raises a number of questions, but the biggest one is,

Why did Witt, Newkirk, Williams, McMinimee, the principals of Conifer, Evergreen, and  D’Evelyn high schools, the principal of Ft. Collins Liberty Commons charter school, and Sheila Atwell of Jeffco Students First agree to attend a meeting sponsored, in part, by a white supremacist party?

The first reaction is, maybe they didn’t know?

But that raises the question of:

Didn’t they check the sponsorship list before they agreed to attend?

The list of sponsoring groups is right there on the flyer.

11.10.2014ETPEducationnighteventflyerThe flyer was posted on the My Mountain Town website.  Why didn’t someone check?

What kind of message does it send when the leadership of Jefferson County Public Schools attend a blatantly partisan rally that lists a white supremacist political party as one of its sponsors? A simple check of the American Freedom Party website should have been enough to have every one of the Jeffco officials refusing or canceling immediately.  Certainly even Ken Witt (who is on record as disliking the word ‘diversity’) is not so politically tone-deaf to knowingly attend an event sponsored by a racist hate group.

Why did not anyone check?!

Another possible explanation is that maybe it is simply a mistake.  People who were there say that all the sponsors had posters up indicating their sponsorship. There was no American Freedom Party poster…but there was an Americans For Prosperity poster.  The original flyer does not show American For Prosperity, but they had a poster.  The flyer does shows American Freedom Party, but they did not have a poster.  They both, apparently, go by the initials of “AFP”, so…a simple mistake?

Okay.  That is possible.

But that still leaves unanswered the question:

Didn’t McMinimee, Newkirk, Williams, Witt, and the rest at least check the list of sponsors on the flyer and website?  

It also raises another question:

How did someone working for the Evergreen group confuse Americans For Prosperity with American Freedom Party?

If that person saw “AFP” and did not know what it meant, how did they end up with American Freedom Party?  And why didn’t someone else catch it?

If they did catch it, then why was nothing said about it (such as an apology) at the beginning of the event?

All of this raises strong concerns about the judgement of WNW, McMinimee, Sheila Atwell, and the school principals.  It also raises questions about just what Brad Miller is doing to earn his $90,000/year part-time salary as the “Board’s Attorney” if not to keep them from making this kind of mistake!

Newkirk, McMinimee, the Jeffco Principals, the founder of the newly approved Golden View Classical Academy, and Sheila Atwell showed up…and made no mention of any ‘error’.  As it turns out, perhaps due to the snow, Witt and Williams did not show up Monday night, but sent their regrets.

(Perhaps Mr. Miller earned a small amount of his $250/hr from the time he leaves his house in Colorado Springs, by stopping WNW from possibly violating the Colorado Open Meetings law and having the three of them meet up at the event?)

In addition to being, at best, incredibly careless, failing to do due diligence, absolutely sending the wrong message to our students, teachers, staff, and voters, this failure of judgment has done one more thing.  It gives us a new meaning for WNW:  

Who’s Not Wise….

 (7:00 a.m. update –  Since we published this post, two Jeffco parents have copied us on an email they have sent directly to the JeffCo invitees, e.g., Newkirk, Witt, Williams, McMinimee, Paxton, Alsup, Edwards, and Schuler.  Below is the text from their email with a link to the letter they enclosed.  We will publish the letter also directly on our Facebook link.

Dear Jeffco School Board members Mr. Newkirk, Mr. Witt and Ms. Williams, Jeffco Superintendent Mr. McMinimee, Jeffco high school principals Mr. Paxton (Conifer), Mr. Alsup (Evergreen) & Mr. Edwards (D’Evelyn), and Golden View Classical Academy Founder Derec Shuler (via the office of Tim Matlick – please forward):

Attached please find a letter from fellow Jeffco parent Tina Gurdikian and myself regarding your participation in a meeting co-sponsored by the American Freedom Party. We are anxious to hear your responses to our questions. Please send those to both tgurdikian@hotmail.com <mailto:tgurdikian@hotmail.com> and kellyjjj@me.com <mailto:kellyjjj@me.com> at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter.

Kelly Johnson & Tina Gurdikian
Jeffco Parents

Letter Regarding American Freedom Party)

Monday Do List:
We will keep this one short:

  1. Send an email to the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) demanding to know why the District allowed representatives to attend a meeting where a listed sponsor is a white supremacist hate group.  Demand to know why Witt, Newkirk, and Williams agreed to attend.  Include in the email the fact that if it was a simple mistake why didn’t WNW, McMinimee, and the principals check the flyer and website before attending!  Also, why are they associating with people who can confuse a White Racist political party with the Koch billionaire-funded political money group?
  2. If you have not already volunteered to work against WNW’s deconstruction of JeffCo, go to our web page Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda and choose a group to help!
  3. Do you want to know which of it’s own policies WNW is driving the Board to violate, check our new page “WNW Board Policy Violations”.
  4. Read the Meeting Prep for this Thursday’s Board Meeting.
  5. Plan on going to the Board Meeting!

BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday November 20, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden
(If you cannot attend, please watch via live video stream at: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Note:  This is a “Special” Meeting with a ‘Study/Dialogue’ focus.  As such, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams refuse to allow Public Comment.

Key Agenda Items
Agenda Item 2.01:  First Quarter Financial Report 2014-15
Type: Discussion, Information
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Independent auditor, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, Members of the Financial Oversight Committee
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to monitor the districtwide condition as outlined in Board executive limitation policies EL-5 Financial Planning and Budgeting and EL-6 Financial Administration. Staff will identify funds, departments and/or schools to monitor closely throughout the year.
BACKGROUND: In compliance with Board executive limitation policy EL-6 Financial Administration, the Board will meet to review and monitor quarterly financial reports.

Attachments: Sept 2014 Transmittal FINAL 1st Quarter.pdf (199 KB),1st QUARTER REPORT Sept 2014 with Appendix-view.pdf (2,737 KB), 2014 11 20 1st Qtr Financial Rept 2014-2015 Presentation.pdf (311 KB), CLA Report on Applying AUP 1st Qtr.pdf (43 KB)

Our Comments: If you do not have the time or the background to wade through the detailed financials, it is always worth reading the “Independent Accountant’s Report” from CliftonLarsonAllen.  In this one the things they paid attention to included:  

The current budget report does not include:

  • The new comp plan WNW rammed down the throats of JCEA without negotitations.
  • the Sol Vista and north Highway 93 growth areas will add up to 3,000 more elementary students and 6,000 overall students in the next few years (WNW seems to think the new charter school they approved – with a maximum capacity of 750, will handle this increase).
  • Mount Evans (the Outdoor Lab) will have significant repairs this quarter.

There is a current deficit of just under $3 million due to timing of property tax collections.

Yellow Flags have been given to:

  • Food Service Fund for higher food costs
  • Charter School Rocky Mountain Deaf School is borrowing $212k from the District while waiting for approval from CDE (Colorado Department of Education) for billing districts higher than normal rates for taking their students.
  • Mountain Phoenix is not borrowing right now, although it is approved for up to $250k.
  • Collegiate Academy is not borrowing right now (it is approved for up to $400k), but the project FTE (Full-Time Enrollment) growth (i.e., more students) did not happen.  Collegiate is counting on increased revenue from the mill levy override to cover the gap.

Other issues coming up include badly needed renovations, upgrades, improvements, and new schools, new technology roll-out, Special Education costs, Student Based Budgeting and Priority Based Budgeting.

Budgets are seen as dull, dry, and boring.  But it is where 90% of the actual building up or tearing down happens.  

Agenda Item 2.02:  Legislative Platform 2015
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Ed Bowditch, district lobbyist
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its legislative priorities for the 2015 Colorado Legislative Session beginning in January 2015.
BACKGROUND: Annually, the Board prepares a statement of principles and priorities, its Legislative Platform.  This document provides direction to the district lobbyist in the absence of direct Board discussion on any legislative matter during the Legislative Session.

Additionally, before scheduling community engagement opportunities as a board with other local government elected officials, the Board of Education determined its Legislative Platform document should be finalized.

Attachments: Jeffco Legislative Platform 2014.pdf (61 KB), State BOE Draft Legislative Platform 2015.pdf (585 KB)

Our Comments: The school finance goals listed generally sound good, but to a large degree can be summed up as, “Give us more money.  Let us decide where to spend it.  Do not require us to do anything with it we do not like, especially when it comes to hiring and paying teachers.”

When it comes to charter schools, they want the state’s portion of funding to go to the District first, and to keep local school districts as the primary chartering agency.  No mention is made of the hot button issues of PARCC, Common Core, CMAS testing, or the testing regime in general.  It will be interesting to see what the discussion brings up.

Agenda Item 2.03:  2015/16 Budget Development Update and Board Budget Objectives and Priorities
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Lorri Dugan, director of budget
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the budget development process, timeline and objectives as well as information, as requested, on polling. Staff is requesting Board direction and input regarding next steps for moving forward with community engagement, approval of the budget objectives, and any specific Board budget priorities that can be incorporated into early 2015/2016 budget projections to be presented in December.
BACKGROUND: At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/16 budget development process. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline. A component of that process was gathering community input on budgetary priorities. Staff engaged the services of Citizen Budget to develop the community engagement tool. Discussion of the community engagement tool was scheduled for the October 16, 2014, as per the approved timeline. Because discussion was moved from the October 16, 2014, Board of Education meeting and in preparation for input and revisions at the November 6, 2014, Board meeting, an overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board on October 16 and draft questions were provided on October 24.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: Budget Objectives pg 25.pdf (69 KB), 2015-16 Budget Development Timeline.pdf (507 KB), Budget questions.pdf (131 KB)

Our Comments: Here is where we can see some of the deconstruction that WNW is planning on for next year.  The Budget Objectives and Timeline documents are worth a quick look, but it is the proposed Budget questions document that needs to be gone over with a microscope.  The first two questions are not too alarming.  The third is a bit confusing.  The fourth is rigged question.

The fifth is where, if you have an interest in early childhood education, every alarm bell in your head ought to be going off at maximum volume.  In this question, the assault on the Free, Full Day Kindergarten (FFDK) program is renewed with additional misleading statements generated by the ‘minority’ of SPAC.

In this question, WNW is laying out its justification for cutting off the best chance the poorest students have of getting a good education.  We believe their motive, as we posted on September 13th, is to free up building space for charter school use.

This is a direct follow-up to Newkirk’s threat in June, to disband the entire FFDK program.

In our opinion, this is a travesty and an direct assault on the most vulnerable of our children.  It is unconscionable.

Questions #6 and #7 are “loaded” in a manner similar to question four, with manipulative words and phrasing trying to push the recipient in a particular direction.

Question #8 makes us wonder if Warren Tech existence has now become a target for WNW.  Why would this be the case?  Perhaps because Jeffco high schools often use classes at Warren Tech for students with an interest in STEM.  If Warren Tech is not there anymore, then a wider opening for a STEM charter school?  The question really is absurd on the face of it.  The cost of moving building trades education out of Warren and to the individual high schools would be huge.  It would require new facilities and additional teachers.  It would also potentially eliminate a number of classes where no one high school would have enough students for a class, but together, via Warren Tech, they do.

All in all, we give this “draft” document an “F” for “fake” and “failing”.

Agenda Item 2.04:  Choice Survey Findings
PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, Dr. Heather MacGillivary, director, Assessment and Research, Mike Freeman, achievement director
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive the results of the School Enrollment and Choice Research conducted late Summer and Fall of 2014.
BACKGROUND: The Choice Steering Committee met through Winter/Spring 2014 to advise the Board of Education. As part of their work, a subcommittee formed in May 2014 to design survey and focus group questions for parents.  The purpose of the research was to obtain parent feedback on the enrollment process as well as curricular and extracurricular offerings.  Focus groups occurred over the summer and the parent survey was conducted in September and October.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: PRESENTATION SchoolEnrollment_Choice.pdf (1,441 KB), SchoolChoiceQuestions_20140828.pdf (535 KB)

Our Comments: If WNW were hoping for results that showed overwhelming support for more charter schools…they did not get it.  This will most likely not stop them from saying that there is, but the actual statistics do not bear them out.

There are some odd results.

The Hispanic community makes up 23% of Jeffco’s student population, but accounted for only 3% of the responses.  This would definitely impact other results, such as the one that shows low support for English as a second language (ESL).  One wonders what that result would be if the survey team had made a successful effort to include the Spanish-speaking part of Jeffco.  This also led to a lower participation by parents whose children are eligible for Free-Reduced Lunches (FRL).  Yet somehow, with this huge discrepancy, the survey firm estimates a margin of error for low income and minority status responses of +/-3%?

If you are intellectually honest, it will be hard to base any decisions on a survey, such as this one, in which a quarter of total population is not adequately represented.  But will that stop Witt, Newkirk, or Williams?

Agenda Item 2.05:  Board Academic Goals
PRESENTING STAFF: None
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its Ends policies to establish academic goals for the superintendent and district.
BACKGROUND: The Board’s Ends policies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 include measurable targets for district performance established in December 2013.

Attachments: NAEP and State Test Predictions 2015.pdf (187 KB), DATA Colorado ACT Trends 2014 bag.pdf (101 KB), DATA PISummaryDistrict bag.pdf (23 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary.pdf bag.pdf (45 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Ethnicity) bag.pdf (224 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Instructional Group) bag.pdf (310 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Gender) bag.pdf (91 KB)

Our comments: It is a good thing for the health of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams that they do not suffer from the need to be logically, ethically, or philosophically consistent.  Because if they did, then this agenda item would cause them enormous problems.

On the one hand, they are basing their entire justification for de-constructing Jeffco on the idea that Jeffco is not doing well.  How do they know?  Because of the test results!  The same test results that Williams has pilloried every chance she gets, with tacit support from Witt, Newkirk, and now McMinimee.

So they justify destroying Jeffco using the test scores of tests they say cannot be trusted!

They also neatly ignore the fact that the District from which they draw their inspiration and top personnel, DougCo, has consistently done worse in the tests and rankings than Jeffco.  But then they blast Jeffco for not doing as well as Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton, but do not want to find out why those three districts are performing better.

It’s sort of like deciding your football team is terrible because it’s winning record is not the best.  Then you go about stealing the offensive and defensive schemes, players, and coaches from teams with worse records than yours, while ignoring the teams that have better.

It’s enough to make you say, “Huh”?

If it were the Broncos, we could just shake our head and mutter about the owners.

But when it’s our children…?

Go to the Board Meeting, Jeffco!

Let them know that there will be witnesses to everything they do!