9/29 Monday Post: Do List & BOE Meeting Prep

2014 Sept Protests 1First let us say to our high school students that last week made  every American proud! Our ‘little rebels’ showed the country that at least in JeffCo we have not forgotten that protesting to stop censorship is patriotic!

So, our deepest thanks to high school students who left their classrooms last week and the Friday before.  You have shown us that our hopes for the future are in good hands.

With that said, we do offer one bit of advice – keep to your plan to protest on Saturday, and be in school on October 1st.  Any revenue hit caused by an undercount would not concern WNW in the least.  They have already shown how little they care for our District, our schools, and you, our students.  Instead, they would most likely delight in taking it out on the teachers, whom they already have accused of somehow mesmerizing all of you into making your protests.

So be in school on October 1st…and at the Board Meeting on October 2nd, followed by your demonstration on October 4th.  We welcome you to the fray!

The Monday Do List:

Email the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) asking why Julie Williams’ “Curriculm Review Committee” is not on the agenda.  To bring more pressure on the Board, copy your email to three or more of the local media companies below:

Chalkbeat (Contact Form)
The Colorado Independent  (Email Address)
Colorado Pols (Email Address)
The Colorado Statesman (Email Address)
Colorado Media Publications (Contact Form): Arvada Press, Golden Transcript,  Lakewood Sentinel,  Littleton Independent, North Jeffco Westsider,  Westminster Window, Wheat Ridge Transcript
Columbine Courier (Contact Form)
The Denver Business Journal (Contact Form)
The Denver Post  (Email Address – 150 words max)
El Hispano (Spanish, Email Address)
La Prensa (Spanish, Contact Form)
Westword (Contact Form)

CBS 4 (Contact Form)
Fox31 (Email Address)
7News (Contact Form)
KRMA 6 (PBS): (Contact Form)
9NEWS (Contact Form)
CW2 News (Email Address)

And Keep Fighting Everyday!

Finally, go to the meeting on Thursday!  If you can’t make it, then make plans to watch it on line at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/JeffcoBoardRoom

Thursday Meeting Prep:

Note:  In an effort to make the posts shorter, we edit down to key information only.  We will include a link to BoardDocs site as well as one to the agenda in a form suitable for printing.

BOE Meeting 2014-10-02 (Thursday night)
Date and Time:  Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Education Center, 5th Floor Board Room, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden, CO

Key Agenda Items

Agenda Item 2.05 Approve Agenda

Type: Action

Recommended Action: to approve the agenda for the regular business meeting of the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education for October 2, 2014 as presented.

Our Comments: An amazing thing!  The Curriculum Review Committee proposal that caused JeffCo students to make international headlines…is not on the agenda!

As Lesley Dahlkemper noted on her Facebook page last Thursday, the normal practice is to discuss at one meeting and then vote at the other.  WNM+Williams has certainly done this for everything else!  But for some strange reason, they are not doing it now.  You don’t think that the ongoing national and international attention it brought could have something to do with it, do you?

Believe it or not, we want this item on the agenda!  We want Witt, Newkirk, and Williams to do their dirty deed in the bright lights of public awareness.  We want a full and complete review followed by an up or down vote.

But they do not seem to want to do that.  Instead, they seem to want to cheat the public of an actual decision in public.   Among other things, by having no agenda item for this topic, they can push any public comment to the very end of the meeting, when the press has gone, and maybe the high school students (who will undoubtedly be there) may have tired and gone home.

…Or maybe not.

The Public Agenda Part One call for public comment on “Agenda Related” items.  We suggest that an appropriate topic for comment is the lack of having the Curriculum Review Committee proposal on the agenda.   This is a completely appropriate topic for public comment:  Why is the Board not addressing the issue that brought such fame to tens of hundreds our high school students and such ignominy to the School Board?  For those of you who want to address the Board on the Curriculum Review Committee, we strongly urge you to sign up for the Public Agenda Part One public comment, listing Agenda item 2.05 as your topic, and your question being “Why is the Curriculum Review Committee proposal not on the agenda tonight, especially after local, national, and international attention has been brought to it?”

Agenda Item 3.02 Lori Gillis, Outgoing Chief Financial Officer

Type: Recognition

The Board of Education is pleased to recognize Lorie Gillis, chief financial officer, for her years of service as she leaves the district effective October 2.

Our Comments: Lori Gillis deserves our profound respect.  With her in charge of the District finances, we knew we could trust the numbers coming out of the District.  With her leaving, that certaintity will be gone.  But we cannot blame her for wanting to get as far away from the amatuerish machinations of Witt and Newkirk, not to mention the toadying presence of McMinimee.

We will miss her, and wish her well.

Agenda Item 4.02 Public Comment (Agenda Related)

Type: Information

Sign up online here to speak (the signup becomes available at 10 a.m.)

Our Comments: There are three items that definitely need people to speak to.

  • Agenda Item 6.01 – Alexandria School of Innovation charter application – list all the problems found by the Charter Application Review Committee (see our Comments below)
  •  Agenda Item 2.05 – Why is the Curriculum Review Committee proposal not on the agenda!  (See our Comments above)
  • Agenda Item 6.02 – Golden View Classical Academy – list all the problems found with this application (see our Comments below)

Agenda Item 6.01 Public Hearing:  Alexandria School of Innovation

Type: Discussion, Information

Pertinent Facts:

  • According to Board executive limitation policy EL-13, Charter Schools Application and Monitoring, the superintendent shall not allow charter school applications to be recommended if fiscal jeopardy or failure to make consistent progress towards their stated objectives is a likely outcome or is evident.       
  • On August 15, 2014, Alexandria School of Innovation submitted an application for approval by the Board of Education to become a district charter school.       
  • The Board of Education accepted the proposal for study on September 4, 2014.       
  • A public hearing is being held in order for the Board of Education to “obtain information to assist the local board of education in its decision to grant a charter school application.”       
  • Representatives from Alexandria School of Innovation will be present to answer questions from the Board of Education.

File Attachments: Alexandria School of Innovation, Department Reviews of Rubric for Alexandria.pdf (502 KB), Charter Application Review Committee for ASI – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (228 KB), ASI Jeffco BOE PP.pdf (7,278 KB)

Our Comments: This proposed charter school is a disaster waiting to happen.

The Alexandria proposal is less prepared and has more problems than the proposed Cornerstone Academy from last spring (that one was supposed to come back when they had fixed their issues – they have never come back).  Below we highlight the concerns the Charter Application Committee has about Alexandria:

  1. The proposed management (STEMVentures) does not have a currently operating school.  The owners of STEMVentures were involved in the DougCo STEM Academy startup, but after a series of fiascos, including the principal, vice-principal and several staff members resigning just a few weeks before year after the school opened, the Brannbergs were removed from control.
  2. The DougCo application STEMVentures made last year was for a K-6 STEM school.  DougCo turned it down, stating it had deficiencies that needed fixing.  Instead of fixing those, STEMVentures instead applied to JeffCo at the last minute for a 6-12 STEM school!
  3. They want a five-year contract, but three is normal.
  4. Their enrollment projection is not fully backed up.  Need more data on the actual demand.
  5. Apparently all they did was add an engineering course to a typical High School curriculum and think that qualifies it as “STEM”.
  6. JeffCo already has STEM programs at Deer Creek, Bell Middle schools.  Chatfield and Golden High Schools are expanding STEM pathways, Project Lead the Way is at Bear Creek.  Several other schools are exploring STEM options.  Deer Creek is working with Martin-Marrietta and Golden High School is working with the Colorado School of Mines.
  7. Evidence of support goes back to 2009 data – FIVE YEARS OLD!!  No new data supporting demand.
  8. Letters of Recommendation are not from top management, but mid-level and could have been a form letter they sent out.
  9. Boilerplate pages and paragraphs were repeated verbatim throughout the application.
  10. 153 letters of intent, but target of 450 students in the first year!  No detail on the ages of the 153, so no way of knowing if they will be of 6-12 age range.  No evidence that the 153 are close to the south JeffCo location they say they want to serve.
  11. Unclear if cited parental support is from DougCo or JeffCo parents. Why are they not disclosing students names to the District?
  12. Grading system is confused.  First part of application shows them using EM&N (“exceeds standards, meets standards, needs improvement”), the middle part has them using percentage scale (i.e., 90%, 75%), then at the end they are back to EM&N!  Which is it?  Why are they so sloppy as to have this kind of mistake?
  13. Compared their proposed Colorado school with one in Fairfax, Virginia!  Very different demographics!
  14. Outdoor education!?  What?  Why?
  15. They will need very talented teachers but their proposed pay scale would be low.  Where will the qualified teachers come from?
  16. No specifics on fund-raising other than they will do it.
  17. Talk about start-up grant money, but do not mention any other start-up money to hire the staff to write the grants applications and material such applications involve….
  18. They are applying for CDE startup money in years 0,1, & 2.   The norm is years 1, 2, & 3.  Will the CDE go along and give money to them before they actually startup?  (They seem to want startup-startup money.)
  19. Student population numbers do not make sense over the projected years.  They do not seem to realize that one years 6th graders become next years 7th graders.  They plan on adding an elementary school, but have no proof they will have the room.
  20. Salary estimates have many errors – an 8% raise for everyone in year 2?
  21. No margin for error on their budget.
  22. They project 60% of their teachers will be first year teachers!  For a STEM School!
  23. The budget does not work.
  24. They have “Class A” and “Class B” Board of Directors.  STEMVentures nominates three Class A.  Eventually parents can elect two Class B. (There is no way for parents to actually control the school!)
  25. Directors can be employed and receive compensation from the school!  (Can you say, “conflict of interest?”)
  26. Job Descriptions are written so specifically as to predetermine who gets what job.
  27. Relationship between STEMVentures and Alexandria school is unclear in the application (STEMVentures is a for-profit company).
  28. They claim they will draw from across JeffCo, but will be located near DougCo.  How will they draw from anywhere north of Bowles?
  29. Want to give preference to accepting students from the “founding families” of the DougCo STEM school!?!
  30. They do not address how they will work with low income students or low achieving students.
  31. In one part of the application they state they will go with the District lunch program, then in another part they say they will not have a lunch program at all!?!
  32. No transportation plan.
  33. None of the plans show the six classrooms they would need.
  34. They have not requested a Type D waiver for Judy Brannberg, the proposed head of the school.
  35. Special Ed – they intend to hire staff from the District for their first year which is not possible.
  36. The review group did not have an opportunity to directly meet with the Brannbergs.

The conclusion of the review team was that STEMVentures should take another year to improve their plan and application.

We will add in a couple notes of our own:

The Brannbergs actually have NO education degrees or licensed training.

 The only way DougCo could get the original STEM Academy to succeed was by kicking the Brannbergs & STEMVentures out.

This is less an application for JeffCo and more a door-to-door salesperson looking for a less critical customer.

In short, their application raises a lot more questions than it answers!

Agenda Item 6.02 Public Hearing: Golden View Classical Academy

Type: Discussion, Information

Pertinent Facts:

  1. According to Board executive limitation policy EL-13, Charter Schools Application and Monitoring, the superintendent shall not allow charter school applications to be recommended if fiscal jeopardy or failure to make consistent progress towards their stated objectives is a likely outcome or is evident.
  2. On August 15, 2014, Alexandria School of Innovation submitted an application for approval by the Board of Education to become a district charter school.The Board of Education accepted the proposal for study on September 4, 2014.    A public hearing is being held in order for the Board of Education to “obtain information to assist the local board of education in its decision to grant a charter school application.”Representatives from Golden View Classical Academy will be present to answer questions from the Board of Education.
  3. File Attachments: Golden View Classical Academy application, Department Rubric for Golden View.pdf (522 KB), Charter Application Review Committee for GVCA – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (215 KB), PRESENTATION GVCA to JeffCo.pdf (1,367 KB)

Our Comments: This proposed charter school will definitely benefit from going second – after the Alexandria proposal ANYTHING else will look good.

As we stated in our 9/4 Post, there is a lot that concerns us about this school.  Not the least of which i  Below we highlight the concerns the Charter Application Committee has about Golden View:

  1. They seem to think that “Core Knowledge” is a curriculum rather than a recommended standard or process.
  2. Teachers are to go each year to Hillsdale College in Michigan for professional training.  No budget is given for that.
  3. Plan calls for 498 students in the first year, but they only have 171 family responses so far.
  4. They switch  back and forth from Saxon Math to Singapore.  Can be very difficult in professional development (and confusing for the students).
  5. Concern over having to spend District & State dollars to send staff out of state to a religious college for training.
  6. Concerns over political, religious, and partisan affiliations the school would have with Hillsdale.
  7. Outside group controlling a JeffCo school like a puppet?
  8. Teacher contract is longer than JeffCo normal (201 days) but no mention of additional pay is made.
  9. No explanation where start-up money comes from.  They have the Daniels Fund giving $30k in year zero for “marketing”.
  10. Liability insurance is too low.
  11. Self-perpetuating board – no chance of parents ever gaining control.
  12. Their definition of part-time is 35 hours – not compliant with ACA. (One reader of the post has told us the school may have enough employees to avoid that issue – Hat Tip to Brian Terpstra)
  13. In one place, they say staff cannot be on the Board, in another place they say the staff can be on the Board.  Which is it?
  14. They want to not have to follow the District Conduct Code – not possible.
  15. They want to not have to give the state mandated alcohol/sex education course.

This would be the school of Julie Williams dreams.  For all that makes us shudder, as we said before, they look great compared to Alexandria.

Our Final Comments: It is very interesting that Witt is now scheduling the real meaty stuff for “Study Session” meetings where public comment is not allowed, but the regular meetings where the public is able to speak are filled with mainly fluff and almost no voting.  We some how doubt it is all coincidence.

Whether this meeting has any real substance to it will depend primarily on you.  If you tell your neighbors.  If you email the Board.  If you sign up to speak.  If you go and let WNM+Williams know, in no uncertain terms, that they cannot avoid public scrutiny for ever, then something of consequence will occur.  We will have moved one significant step closer to taking back our school district!

So turn the “If”s into “I did”s and help us…

Keep Fighting, JeffCo!