Catching up, plus the 4.6.17 agenda

We thought we’d start with a quick summary of what’s been going on the past few months.  Some highlights:

Superintendent Search

The biggest news here was announced this week: former Superintendent Dan McMinimee, who stepped back at the beginning of March, has accepted a job as superintendent for the New America Schools charter school network. He will begin that position when his Jeffco contract ends on July 1.

Meanwhile, McMinimee will continue to serve Jeffco Schools in an advisory role, per his revised contract, while Terry Elliot serves as acting superintendent.

At the March meeting, board members looked at the responses they had received from the community about qualities they thought most important in our next superintendent. You can see the community feedback in this presentation, visit the Jeffco Schools superintendent search page, and and view the Ray & Associates ad for the position.

Jeffco School Board members will hear an update on the superintendent search at tonight’s April 6 board meeting. The application window for the superintendent search ends April 10, and Board members will meet in executive session with Ray & Associates to start screening candidates on April 20.

2017-18 Jeffco Schools Budget

Here, we’d first like to direct everyone’s attention to the most current list of budget reductions so that everyone can see that the Wheat Ridge High School GT Center and the proposed closures to Swanson, Stober, Peck, and Pennington are off the list. Those items are listed as “removed” in the document.

The March 23 budget presentation also included feedback from the online interactive budget tool, and from the telephone town halls. More than 18,000 individuals viewed the tool and 5,366 responses were submitted, which is a 585 percent increase over the previous year.  Feedback from all sources is listed on slides 7 through 9.

Board members clarified at the March 23 meeting that, unless something drastically changed at the state level, it was extremely unlikely they would consider the items in the deferred column again this year.

Current projections indicate that the final state budget will be close to the governor’s request, and board members agreed that district staff could proceed with the following budget assumptions:

  • Approximately $4 million in new state funding
  • Including the items in blue on this list in the Jeffco Schools 2017-18 budget
  • Increasing compensation for all Jeffco employees by $19.8 million
  • Keeping any one-time use of reserves on hold until there is more clarity on state funding

The first budget public hearing will be April 20. The second public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 4.

Want to Join the District Accountability Committee?

Applications are being accepted for Jeffco’s District Accountability Committee (DAC) from now through April 30. If you are interested in joining this important group, read more about the DAC application process here and about the work the DAC does here.

Other News

The Wheat Ridge High School GT Center is off the list of cuts, as noted above. However, there still seems to be some confusion about how the SBB funding mechanism will work to support the GT Center Program. After our previous post about this issue, we heard from some readers who said that WRHS’s SBB dollars only fund six classes and this is a seventh class, though we know of other Jeffco high schools that are funding seventh classes with SBB.

Some of the feedback also focused on the fact that this is a program and not just a class. While we agree, our combined and varied experiences among the JCSBW writers has been that GT Centers in our Jeffco elementary and middle schools are also programs that address both the socio-emotional issues as well as providing appropriate academic acceleration.

We hope the Jeffco School Board members will follow up with the WRHS staff and accountability committee in a future meeting to check in on the progress and talk through any issues that could pose a problem in future funding.

Doral Academy will lease Zerger Elementary from the district for the 2017-18 year, per a contract that was approved at the March 23 meeting. It is a one-year lease with no option for renewal, and Doral representatives told the Jeffco School Board that their ideal location is further west. Here are three key things you need to know about this decision:

  1. If the school board hadn’t approved the lease, Doral could have appealed the lease decision to the State Board of Education. We’ll merely point out that given the State BOE’s decision regarding Great Work Montessori, it’s likely the state board would have told Jeffco to approve the lease anyhow.
  2. Jeffco Schools can continue to market the property while Doral is in it, so it won’t impede the district’s attempts to sell it.
  3. According to the contract, Doral will pay nearly $200,000 to lease the building, which, frankly, is money the district is not receiving while Zerger sits empty.

Several board members expressed concern about an overabundance of charters in the area and the potential impact on neighboring schools. It is true that there are a lot of charter schools clustered in the area. Woodrow Wilson Academy is also located in the Zerger neighborhood, merely a half-mile away. Excel Academy is only two miles to the west, Jefferson Academy is 2.5 miles, and Lincoln Academy is 3.5 miles away.

However, Doral’s current location is only 3 miles away from Zerger, making it unlikely that the lease will have a substantial impact on neighboring schools. Families who either wanted a nearby charter school or who wanted one still within walking distance of their house have had Woodrow Wilson as a nearby option even before Zerger closed in May 2011.

The school board approved a three-year conditional contract renewal for Mountain Phoenix, which is a Waldorf charter school. The issue was test scores, because Mountain Phoenix’s 2016 academic proficiency scores were quite low, triggering an automatic flag during the contract review process.

The school’s math scores ranked in the 9th percentile in elementary, and 25th percentile in middle school. Math growth scores were also below the district average at all grade levels except 7th grade. Science scores were also low, with the scores at the 18th percentile in science for both elementary and middle school students.

Much of this can be chalked up to the “Waldorf curve,” because Waldorf focuses on arts and storytelling and creativity in the early grades. The Waldorf curve is something the district has been aware of for a number of years, and the students generally have shown improvements in academic proficiency, especially during the middle school years.

This is another topic that has drawn a lot of ire from critics who implied that the district was unfairly focusing on Mountain Phoenix when other neighborhood schools also are struggling with academic proficiency. However, the actual conversation in the board room was polite and respectful, with board members and Mountain Phoenix staff trying to find the best way to balance how to preserve the Waldorf experience while also finding new ways to address the increased academic standards. A three-year contract was approved, and we at JCSBW think that Mountain Phoenix will be successful.

New boundaries were set for Shelton Elementary and Welchester Elementary at the board’s March 9 meeting to accommodate the students from Pleasant View, which closes at the end of this year.

Agenda for the April 6 Jeffco BOE meeting

Watch for a presentation from the TDPAC (Technology Data Privacy Advisory Committee) during the 5 pm study session.

The Board will also hear an update on the superintendent search during the study session, as noted above.

The regular meeting will begin at 6 pm with the usual awards and recognitions, after which the board will discuss the District Unified Improvement Plan (UIP). There are several attachments for this agenda item, so we’ll link to the District Accountability Committee UIP Recommendations and encourage you to visit BoardDocs to look at the other associated materials.

As always, we encourage you to attend the meeting in person or to watch the live stream. Videos of the meetings are also available for later viewing.

JeffCo Proud!

3.17.2016 BOE MEETING PREVIEW

writers_forum

The Jeffco School Board will hold a study session this Thursday, March 17, beginning at 5:30 pm. If you cannot attend, you can stream the meeting online. Key matters include:

Jeffco’s Early Childhood Education Program

The Board will hear the latest regarding Jeffco’s growing Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program. This includes preschool, Kindergarten and before- and after-school programs. The Board will also meet ECE community partners during this update.

We’re curious to know the impacts to enrollment in Full-Day Kindergarten (FDK) as a result of the requirement that free FDK be provided to all students on free and reduced lunch (FRL). This is something that hasn’t been clear, so we’re wondering:

  • How many schools were providing free FDK to all students prior to SBB who have stopped doing so, specifically due to the percentage of FRL students in their school? Our understand from last year was that there were 40 schools providing free FDK that went down to 25 schools after the implementation of SBB.
  • As we understand it, schools receive additional funds for free lunch kiddos, but not for reduced lunch kiddos. Therefore, schools have to provide the funds for school fees and free FDK for reduced lunch kiddos from their general fund. How is this impacting schools and what is being done to relieve this pressure?

We’re also wondering if the district or new board has considered a tiered system of charging for FDK like the one Denver Public Schools implemented, which bases tuition upon the size of the family relative to their gross income and ability to pay instead of a flat $300/month fee? Or is there a way the district could move toward offering free FDK for everyone, perhaps on a 5- or 10-year implementation plan? (The ideal situation would be that the state allocates funding to allow all districts to offer free FDK, of course, but we’re well aware of the ongoing state funding problems.)

2nd Quarter Financial Report

Jeffco Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Askelson, a representative from the District’s auditor and members of the District’s Financial Oversight Committee will share the latest financial news. The report identifies funds, departments and/or schools to monitor closely throughout the year.

We’re pleased to see no charter schools are borrowing at the end of this quarter, and Collegiate Academy has closed its line of credit with the District. Budgeting for the 2016-2017 school year will continue to be a hot topic. Stay tuned.

District Accountability Committee

Next, Jeffco Chief Effectiveness Officer Terry Elliott and District Accountability Committee Chair Julie Oxenford-O’Brian will update the Board on the District’s Unified Improvement Plan before it is submitted to the Colorado Department of Education.

Legislative Update

Jeffco’s Lobbyist, Ed Bowditch, will update the Board on legislation affecting schools, districts and education.

When Cindy Stevenson Left Jeffco…

Two years ago, when the Board approved former Superintendent Cindy Stevenson’s early release from her duties, Witt, Newkirk and Williams insisted on barring her from volunteering or being employed in Jeffco Schools in the future.

Paragraph #12, page 5 of 8 of that agreement reads, No continuing right of employment by the District. Dr. Stevenson agrees that she will not apply for or otherwise seek re-employment or seek to volunteer in the District, (emphasis added) including its charter schools until December 31, 2018, and that, in the event she does so, it will be a material breach of this Agreement, and the District and its charter schools will have no obligation to consider her application.”

At the March 3, 2016, meeting, Ron Mitchell asked that this be reviewed by district legal counsel to see if that prohibition could be changed. At the last meeting, Mitchell said he didn’t think that was a typical element of an agreement and that it seemed needless. We are interested in understanding whether that clause can be changed or eliminated, and what the board may have in mind.

We’ll also note for the record that Stevenson is currently employed as Director of the CASE Leadership Initiative, so we don’t think this is a move to reinstate her as superintendent. Barring her from even volunteering in the district, however, was always clearly meant to be spiteful by WNW.

Employee Negotiations

The meeting wraps up with an update on Employee Negotiations – the teacher contract. The Board will hear from Chief Human Resources Officer Amy Weber and contract attorney Jim Branum. The next negotiations session will take place Monday, March 28.

Jeffco Student Headed to Scripps National Spelling Bee – AGAIN!

On a lighter note, we’d like to congratulate Jeffco Schools student Sylvie Lamontagne who will represent Colorado in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second year running. Lamontagne, an eighth grader at Creighton Middle School, competed last year and finished 9th out of 285 spellers at the national bee. This is the first time in 20 years that Colorado has had a back-to-back champion, thanks in part to a change in the rules that allows a winner to compete again in the contest. Her winning word was “ossifrage.” Good luck at the national spelling bee!

JeffCo Proud!

 

9.28.15 Apply now for the new Jeffco DAC — or miss out

urgentAs we mentioned in our last post, the Jeffco Schools Strategic Planning Advisory Council (SPAC) is splitting into two groups. The new District Accountability Committee (DAC) will focus on the accountability side of things, and the new SPAC will focus solely on strategic planning.

You may also remember Witt, Newkirk, and Williams want to start fresh, and told district staff to solicit applications for review on Oct. 1.

That’s Thursday.  THIS Thursday.

The district posted application information and other important details today, and we hope you will apply.

No Title

No Description

Here’s the catch: you need to apply ASAP because the Jeffco School Board will be reviewing applications at this Thursday’s meeting. Witt was extremely cagey about the application process at last week’s meeting, refusing to provide a specific date by which application should be received and generally rushing the process without any details.

Witt said they’d review the applications they receive at the Oct. 1 meeting, but people could still submit applications. We’re not sure how that process will work, but we suspect that they gave advance notice to individuals they want on the new DAC so they’ll have those applications on Thursday.

It would be very easy for Witt, Newkirk and Williams to look through the applications they’ve received, declare that they have more than enough qualified candidates, and appoint DAC members on Thursday. They’ve said the official vote for members will be at the Oct. 15 meeting, but that doesn’t mean they’ll actually consider any new applications after Oct. 1–unless one of their people procrastinates past the Oct 1 deadline. We wouldn’t count on that.

If you’re a Jeffco Schools parent, administrator, teacher, or a member of Jeffco’s business community, we encourage you to apply. We especially urge you to apply if you happen to chair or be a member of your child’s school accountability committee.

The application form is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1y3teI4hpNSTulVH1_S3_o2EyKn8wGi8J964P1ab7Xyo/viewform?c=0&w=1

Don’t delay! Witt won’t wait.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

 

9.26.15 WNW illustrate why they’re being recalled

Chances are you’ve already seen the videos from the Sept. 24 board meeting. Colorado Pols said it best: Ken Witt Presents: How to Make the Case for Your Own Recall.

It was that bad. The whole meeting was bad. The three items we highlighted in the last post about this meeting? All three of them proved our suspicions. If you’re short on time, here’s the summary version:

  1. Witt, Newkirk and Williams are going for the nuclear option on the new District Accountability Committee (DAC), which was formerly SPAC – the Strategic Planning Advisory Council. They want to wipe it out and start over.
  2. Witt, Newkirk and Williams approved a K-6 school instead of the district-recommended K-8 at the Candelas site and then patted themselves on the back.
  3. A proposed budget increase for Jeffco security was pushed off for another month, and although WNW seemed to suggest they might vote for it, we also saw hints that another surprise is just waiting in the wings.

Now, the details.

Proposed DAC bylaws

The first agenda item was a second review of the proposed new DAC bylaws. The usual process is to review the bylaws, ask a few questions, make any additional revisions, and vote. That didn’t happen.

Instead, Newkirk revived his nuclear option and offered a lengthy motion detailing the membership of the new DAC. Surprise! He didn’t bother to share it with the full board until around 1 pm that afternoon. Somehow, both Witt and Williams had plenty of time to sit down and read it thoroughly. Dahlkemper and Fellman, meanwhile, had no idea that they should even expect anything new to be added with a board meeting only a few hours away. They told Newkirk they were not ready to vote on an item they had just received that afternoon, and had not had time to review it on account of things like work obligations.

And then it got ugly. You know the routine: Witt makes sneering remarks that suggest Fellman and Dahlkemper didn’t adequately prepare for the meeting and condescendingly implies that they aren’t very bright, while Fellman and Dahlkemper argue for following board policy in which a proposal is introduced at one meeting and voted on at the next. (One quote from Witt: “Ms. Dahlkemper, this has been read to you twice, but we can continue to go over it until you feel like you understand all of the terms.”) Dahlkemper and Fellman fought the good fight, as they have EVERY SINGLE MEETING since the board majority was elected. Colorado Pols included this quote from Dahlkemper’s response after she reached a point of extreme frustration, and it’s worth printing again here:

But I will tell you – the mistake that you are making right now is that we have a policy on the table about how we govern. You are throwing governance right out the window because you have some agenda that you feel so critical that we have to vote on tonight…that even a simple request that is to say, “Look, our policy says we review it, and then we vote on it.” And don’t you dare insinuate that I don’t understand this policy. And stop talking down to people on this board, and also people who come forward. Enough.

What Witt clearly doesn’t understand — or more likely, could care less about — is that having a discussion in which people toss around ideas, and reviewing a written document are not the same thing. In this case, the board had reviewed a proposal to split the SPAC into two committees:  a District Accountability Committee (DAC) and a separate Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. Members, rather than trying to cover two large topics, would focus on accountability measures in the former and strategic planning in the latter.

WNW have repeatedly expressed concern that SPAC didn’t adequately conform to state statutes, although even their own board lawyer, Brad Miller, assured them that everything was fine. But then the SPAC members suggested that it would be easier to split the two so each could focus on a separate set of duties. Those volunteers, including the SPAC chair and chair-elect, worked with district staff to write a new set of by-laws.

They met with the BOE at the Aug. 27 meeting to get feedback. For the record, those by-laws included a suggested membership. This was also the meeting where Newkirk suggested they clean house, appoint new members and then direct those members to write their bylaws. As we noted, the idea didn’t go anywhere at the time, but resurfaced in Newkirk’s motion.

There are several problems with Newkirk’s motion. For starters, how many people would be on the new DAC?

the Board of Education shall vote to appoint eleven members, which shall include parents, at least one member of the business community, and at least one and up to three teachers to the District Accountability Committee, which also shall have as members one School Accountability Committee president from each of the 17 parent articulation areas, and the Superintendent of the District

Huh? Newkirk specifies 11 members, but also specifies that the committee would include one SAC chair from 17 articulation areas. The math doesn’t add up.

+ 1 (or more?) parent + 1 business community representative + 1-3 teachers + 17 SAC chairs = 20 – 23 members.

Is Newkirk suggesting that the BOE would only appoint 11 members but there would also be more on the committee? Despite his concerns about poor ACT performance (cited in the motion!) did he not realize that 11 ≠ 20?

We weren’t the only ones who weren’t clear about what this meant. The motion that was eventually approved also directed staff to solicit applications for review a the Oct. 1 meeting (yes–solicit and receive applications in the space of one week). Staff and board members alike were also confused about how, who, and how many applications they should solicit.

Staff asked what information applicants should include. Witt said applicants should include their background and “checkpoints for statutes.” Terry Elliot pointed out that the current SPAC membership includes some School Accountability Committee chairs and some members but Newkirk’s motion only specified chairs. Should they accept applications from SAC members or only SAC chairs? Witt replied that that’s what the bylaw draft says but they hadn’t approved it yet. (Another question: which bylaw draft? Newkirk’s or the other?)

Elliot also pointed out that as written, Newkirk’s proposal didn’t include all of the members outlined in state statutes. The 2013 revision of the law requires a school administrator and at least three parents; Newkirk’s resolution left out the administrator and didn’t specify the number of parents. When Elliot noted this, Witt responded (again condescendingly) that that’s why the “compromise makes sense.”

We ask, how is it a “compromise” to put off a vote on an ill-conceived proposal that would establish a DAC that did not conform to state laws, despite Witt and Newkirk’s constant “concern” that the current SPAC didn’t conform to those very same laws?

That’s irresponsible governance, pure and simple.

It also makes us wonder about Sunshine Laws. Here are some potential scenarios:

a. Newkirk is a severe, chronic procrastinator who simply does not get proposals written until the last minute, and that’s why the membership proposal wasn’t shared with Fellman and Dahlkemper (and presumably Witt and Williams) until the afternoon of the board meeting. Also, Williams and Witt just happened to have the afternoon free and were checking for any last-minute additions sometime between 1 and 5 pm.

b. Newkirk is a severe, chronic procrastinator but he also notified Witt and Williams that a new, different proposal would be headed their way sometime on Thursday afternoon so they could set aside time to review it.

c. Newkirk had written the proposal earlier, shared it with Witt and Williams, and only shared it with Dahlkemper, Fellman and the rest of the public after consulting with Witt and Williams.

Options B and C are clear violations of Colorado’s sunshine laws.

Option A is not, but, if true, is also is a clear example of how this board is not transparent. Posting a new proposal that varies considerably from the membership outlined in the proposed DAC bylaws only hours before the meeting, and pushing to approve said proposal without any public comment (or time to write the board before the vote) is neither transparent nor respectful.

Option A is also the least likely of the three. Too many stars have to align, and we find it curious that two members of the board majority just happened to have checked for last-minute additions and had plenty of time to review them.

K-6 vs. K-8 at Candelas

The vote against district recommendations to build a K-8 school at Candelas wasn’t a surprise but is another example of pennywise but pound-foolish. It’s not clear why WNW pushed for a K-6.

One concern they articulated repeatedly was that students from Leyden Rock would be joining an established cohort at Candelas for 7-8, but it’s equally true that at most of our middle schools, cohorts from the surrounding neighborhoods all merge in middle school. If the Candelas students head to Wayne Carle Middle School, they’ll join cohorts from Lukas and Witt Elementary. If the Leyden Rock kids head to Oberon or Bell Middle School, they’ll join cohorts from the elementary schools in those articulation areas.

WNW also argued that there was only demand for seats at the K-6 level and not in the middle school level. District staff pointed out that although area middle schools have capacity available now, they won’t by the time these developments reach full-buildout. We’ll need those middle school seats in the not-too-distant future. McMinimee cited the current numbers of sixth-grade students at current, overcrowded NW Arvada schools, but WNW ignored those concerns.

A third concern is that it’s much cheaper to build a K-8, even if it will need an addition, that it is to build and maintain a K-6 and separate, future 7-8 building. It’s cheaper to add to a building than it is to construct a new one. One K-8 building is also cheaper because there are less custodial costs and less administrative costs (2 principals vs 1, and so on). Utility costs are also cheaper because you’re only paying for electric and heat in one building. There’s only one gym, one library, one cafeteria, one kitchen, and one set of main offices, as opposed to double of all of that with associated costs.

Staff also noted that the Candelas site could accommodate multiple structures. If they built a K-8, there would still be 10 acres available that could support another building. It’s unlikely that will be possible with two separate buildings.

Also, Witt suggested that he really likes the 7-12 model and wants to see more 7-12 schools. He suggested a “D’Evelyn Northwest” though noted staff would need to flesh out plans. Staff pointed out that the district doesn’t own any other land in the NW area, though that’s only one among many questions we have regarding Witt’s “D’Evelyn Northwest.”

What’s the real reason behind a K-6? Is Witt hoping to put a charter school into the new building?  We wonder.

Jeffco Schools Security budget request

The other main item was a budget request from Jeffco’s Security and Emergency Management department. Director John McDonald had given a brief presentation on the increased numbers of threats and suicide assessments that his department has seen in the past couple of years. His staff of 11 is at capacity and he needs more staff to keep up with the increasing number of issues. About half of the $1.5 million request is for on-going expenses (additional staff), and the other half is for one-time expenses.

The response was surprising. Newkirk asked about the “school to prison pipeline” and what other schools across the nation are doing about it. Keep in mind that the board already had a Q&A session with McDonald two weeks ago. Why this question? Steve Bell had the winning answer, telling Newkirk that the answer is that many of those schools are coming to Jeffco for advice. McMinimee also jumped to McDonald’s defense, telling the board that Jeffco has one of the best systems out there, and that as someone who has worked in four school districts, he could “say this with confidence.”

Williams asked a number of odd question she said she’d been asked, too. She said people were worried about bringing Child Protective Services into the schools like New York. McDonald said he hadn’t heard of such a thing in Jeffco. She asked if FERPA no longer applied if students had contacts with law enforcement.  Answer: FERPA remains in place.

Williams wanted to know whether students knew their rights, and whether policies regarding contact and interviews with law enforcement had been made available to the public. Answer: policy JIH and JIH-R, which are available in BoardDocs. Just click the “policies” tab and type JIH. (Capital letters work better, FYI. And so on). Basically, Williams doesn’t appear to have read the Student Code of Conduct in full, and certainly hasn’t bothered to read through all those pesky district policies either. (But she had time to read Newkirk’s last minute proposal!) Note again that she could have asked McDonald these questions two weeks earlier during his presentation, and that they aren’t related to his budget request. The disconnect is odd.

Witt asked what the funding was for, despite the fact that McDonald had already provided that information to the board two weeks ago. Apparently the document contained some information that could compromise district security, so it hadn’t been posted to BoardDocs. There are plans to extract the information that can be made public and post that soon. Witt also asked where the money would come from, which to us is the only reasonable question we heard on the topic.

The problem is that WNW already allocated all the funding (see $18 million to build a “debt-free” school in NW Arvada), and little discretionary money is left to handle the request. They may be able to borrow money from vacant positions and retirement savings to fund the request this budget year, but money is tight. Fellman asked about pulling half a million from reserves to address immediate needs, but Chief Finance Officer Kathleen Askelson cautioned against it, saying they’re hearing dire news from the state regarding 2016-17 budgets, and that there could possibly even be a recision for the current year.

The plan is to revisit the issue at the Oct. 15 meeting. The board seemed to be in favor, but the odd questions from Newkirk and Williams combined with Witt’s statements also make us wonder if they’re taking the request seriously or if we’ll see another Plan B or other nonsense instead.

What You Can Do

You know the drill:  you can donate to the recall campaign and/or to the five candidates we’re endorsing in this election: Amanda Stevens, Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell. You can donate to the candidates individually or support all five by donating to Jeffco United Forward.

You can write a letter to the editor. You can walk Jeffco to talk to the 70 percent of voters who do not have children in our schools currently to let them know why we support the recall. You can put up a yard sign or wear a button.

You can speak at public comment during the Oct. 1 board meeting, or you can boycott the meeting to speak to Jeffco voters instead. You can write to the board.

Most importantly, you can vote. This is on the November 3 ballot. Watch for your ballot to arrive in the mail, and be sure to fill it out and return it by November 3.

Hopefully you’ve also seen the post about board president Ken Witt telling board member Jill Fellman she would no longer be needed at the district agenda-setting meetings, and that John Newkirk would now attend all of the meetings until the election. If you haven’t seen it, Support Jeffco Kids has that story.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

 

9.24.15 What to watch at the Jeffco BOE meeting tonight

UpdateTwo things are happening tonight.

  1. The Jeffco School Board has a special meeting tonight at 5:30 pm in the Education Center. More on that in a minute.
  2. There’s a candidate forum hosted by the Jeffco League of Women Voters from 7 – 9 pm tonight. That will take place at Arvada K-8, 5751 Balsam St, Arvada.

If you can’t make (or cannot bear to sit through) the board meeting, stop by the candidate forum! Ali Lasell, Amanda Stevens, Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell need your support.

If you’re in the northwest Arvada area and have been following the new school discussion, you might want to head over to the Education Center to watch the school board decide grade configuration at the proposed Candelas school.

Here’s what to watch for at tonight’s board meeting, whether you attend in person, stream it live, or watch it later:

  • The board will review the new DAC bylaws. Whether they will approve them or introduce yet another surprise “Plan B” remains an open question. John Newkirk already suggested the nuclear option last time. It didn’t seem to gain traction, but then again we aren’t privy to the behind-the-scenes conversations between Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams.
  • Grade configuration of the new northwest Arvada school is also on the agenda. At the last meeting, Witt, Newkirk and Williams were pushing the district to build a K-6 instead of the K-8 recommended by the district. It wasn’t clear why they were pushing against the K-8 option, especially because Williams herself said that she prefers a K-8 or 7-12 option to reduce the number of transitions students make, and yet said she preferred a K-6 at Candelas. She added the even more perplexing suggestion that the district could start building a K-6 and then if the school board approves a bond for November 2016 and the bond is approved, they could add on the 7-8 part.

Our question: Is that supposed to happen while they’re already building the K-6 building, which won’t open until August 2017, or will the site be under nearly-continuous construction for four years if a 7-8 expansion started in August 2017 and finished two years later? Or would waiting for a bond mean that Candelas wouldn’t see a 7-8 school in their neighborhood until 2020 or later?

  • Jeffco’s Security & Emergency Management Office is requesting a budget increase. That item was pulled off the consent agenda at the last meeting and John McDonald told board members about the increasing numbers of threat assessments and suicide calls that they’re receiving.

We talked about those numbers in a previous post and they are concerning. Jeffco’s funding for security is far below that in other districts and they desperately need more staff. We hope approving the request will be a no-brainer, especially with a recall election underway, and especially in this district where we know the risk. But we’re going to watch this one anyhow because with these three, one never knows what WNW might decide.

We’ll let you know what happens, and whether any other surprises pop up tonight at the board meeting. If you attend the candidate forum or happen to tape it, we’d love to hear about that as well. The easiest way to reach us is through the comments section below. And remember,

Keep fighting, JeffCo!