Today we feature a guest post by one our readers, Bob Greenawalt, a Jeffco parent, taxpayer, and community member, regarding some of the Jeffco Schools budget cuts recommended by the district. Our five Jeffco School Board members are preparing to vote on these recommendations on Thursday and need your input. Greenawalt highlights some of the potential cuts in his post.
On January 26, 2017 the Superintendent’s Cabinet, among other things, recommended:
- Eliminating all (30) social and emotional learning specialists and a coordinator.
- Eliminating all (20) literacy interventionists.
- Eliminating four of 16 resource teachers who help support teachers of students determined to be gifted and talented.
- Cut the 2 GT teachers who run the District’s only HS GT program at Wheat Ridge.
Let’s hope that the Board was as surprised by these recommendations as I was.
By all indications, these programs are successful and working to help our kids. Schools nationwide are investing in social emotional work, which helps students develop skills to manage their emotions, resolve conflicts and make responsible decisions. District research shows that the literacy interventionists are “closing the gap for our most highly impacted populations.” The targeted cut of the 2 GT teachers includes a 2017 Colorado Teacher of the Year Finalist.
All of these successful programs were designed to help students on the margins. It makes me wonder what message the Superintendent and his Cabinet is sending to teachers, students and the community with these recommendations?
The Board has an opportunity to show the community that it really does care about kids and their education by rejecting these recommendations and finding other ways to fund their desired compensation investment of $25M.
If the Board accepts these recommendations, we will be left questioning their priorities and reasoning, and an at-risk population will be deprived of vital resources.
The School Board needs to remember its responsibility to put the kids first!
We at JCSBW want add that the issues with compensation are real and that $25 million would go a long way toward making salaries in Jeffco Schools competitive with our neighboring districts. However, the board has not yet landed on a specific plan for compensation and the cuts district staff recommended surprised everyone at the Jan. 26 meeting.
District staff recommended the $25 million number. Given that District staff were then only able to present a little over $20 million in recommended cuts, we don’t expect to see anything close to $25 million go toward compensation this year. We also know board members were not a proponent of closing any schools for the 2017-18 school year, or accelerating any timelines regarding the move toward K-5, 6-8 configurations.
Board members have placed a high priority on teacher compensation because of how important having a great teacher in every classroom is to student success. Jeffco risks losing some of its best educators.
We pointed out recently that in 2010, a Jeffco Schools teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience earned $52,330. In 2017, that same Jeffco Schools teacher only earns $49,839 — compensation has gone DOWN. In neighboring districts, that teacher can earn $57,733. Are those teachers going to head to Boulder or Cherry Creek to earn nearly $8,000 more per year? Sure — especially if they have kids headed to college. It’s a real issue.
However, some of the recommended cuts, such as those mentioned above and the recommendation to close five schools, will have a major impact on our Jeffco students and communities.
The question for board members will be how to balance keeping good teachers in Jeffco while also continuing to invest in educational innovations that we know help Jeffco students achieve.
If you can’t make the meeting tomorrow, please watch the live stream at this link: https://livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310