3A & 3B – Why They Matter, What’s At Stake

Ballots will be mailed in two weeks, and they’ll be crowded. Way down near the bottom of your ballot will be the Jeffco Schools mill levy override and bond3A & 3B.

Why 3A & 3B Matter

Issue 3A will add an additional $33 million to Jeffco Schools’ operating budget, enabling Jeffco to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain the best teachers; ensure Jeffco students thrive in 21st-century classrooms that prepare them for college and careers by expanding programs such as STEM, STEAM, Art, Music, and career tech; and, increase safety, security and mental health services.

Issue 3B will enable Jeffco Schools to upgrade safety and security in school buildings; make long-overdue repairs and improvements to 110 schools; renovate or expand 45 schools; build four replacement schools; and build three new schools in high growth areas. Approval of the bond will also ensure Jeffco students have access to updated technology when they’re learning. Remember, the average Jeffco School is 45 years old, and Jeffco has not invested in new space since the 2004 bond.

What’s At Stake

If 3A and 3B don’t pass, Jeffco’s Board of Education will have to make difficult decisions regarding program and personnel cuts. 14446110_1468048463221612_7019571440195103702_nPossibilities, especially in overcrowded areas of the district, include boundary changes, year round or split schedules – where half of the students attend school during the first part of the day and the other half attend school during the latter part of the day. Jeffco also won’t be able to stay competitive with surrounding districts when it comes to hiring and keeping the best teachers, and may have to cut staff, so expect the exodus of great educators to continue. We will also likely see some schools closed and others consolidated. Class sizes will grow, and bus routes will get longer. Most significantly, there will be fewer classroom resources and educational opportunities for Jeffco Students.

Dozens of school districts around our state are asking voters for additional school funding, including six of the seven largest districts in the Metro Area. Already Jeffco is at or near the bottom of those districts when it comes to per pupil funding from the state, per pupil mill levy override dollars and outstanding bonds per pupil. If those other districts pass their measures and Jeffco does not, our district will be solidly at the bottom, and who knows how long we would remain there.

How You Can Help

There are many ways to help ensure Jeffco voters have the information they need to support 3A & 3B:

Board Community Forums

If you have questions, please attend one of the remaining community forums hosted by Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education members. And consider attending the following forums, which are open to the public to learn about ballot issues and candidates.

Donate to Share the Facts

This video explains why so many districts are seeking local education funding. Donate to the Jeffco Schools mill and bond campaign – Yes on 3A & 3B, to ensure Jeffco voters have factual information about why these measures are so important to 86,000 Jeffco students.

Community Support

We are grateful for the recent endorsements of 3A & 3B by the Jeffco League of Women Voters, the Westminster City Council (unanimous) and the Golden City Council (unanimous).

Thank you from all of us here at Jeffco School Board Watch to all of you for anything and everything you can do to help Jeffco pass 3A & 3B November 8.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

10.25.15 One reader responds to the Denver Post

election_ballot_box_2We received a message from a recall supporter who had a letter published in the Denver Post in response to their Oct. 14 editorial against the recall effort. Because the Post required him to keep the letter to about 150 words and eliminate the chart and percentages in his original letter, we’re reprinting the full letter as he originally submitted it.

His letter speaks to the board majority’s failure to adequately address teacher compensation, the exodus of our Jeffco teachers, and why we need to recall Ken Witt, John Newkirk and Julie Williams. We hope you will share it.

I was disappointed by your recent Editorial (Oct. 13th) suggesting that the Jeffco School Board recall effort should be rejected. But I was not surprised. While I have great respect for this paper and its dedicated employees, I have found its coverage of the new board majority to be very one-sided.

To focus on just one example: your editorial questioned why teachers would be upset by the recent pay plan, but neglected to mention that teachers only received a 1% average raise. This is well below market and was particularly painful for Jeffco teachers who gave up raises for years to help the District during the downturn and were promised they would be fairly compensated when the economy recovered. The new board majority broke that promise. I put together a chart outlining the raise that a teacher with a Master’s Degree and seven years of experience received from other districts versus Jeffco in 2015:

School District 2014/15 (Yr 6) Salary 2015/16 (Yr 7) Salary % Raise
Cherry Creek $51,680 $56,503 9.3%
Littleton $49,369 $52,751 6.9%
Aurora $50,373 $53,961 7.1%
Boulder $59,043 $61,909 4.9%
Average of 4 Districts $52,616 $56,281 7.0%
Jeffco $46,646 $47,112 1.0%
Percentage that the Average of Other Districts is Higher Than Jeffco 12.8% Higher 19.5% Higher 6.0% Higher

No wonder Jeffco teachers are upset and many are leaving the District! To make matters worse, the District sent an email to parents touting the “raise” without telling anyone how under market the raises were. That was very misleading. And if the Board majority continues these extremely small raises for the next several years, the effect on teacher pay and teacher retention could be devastating.

I am the son of a former teacher and husband of a current Jeffco teacher, and strongly believe that most teachers are heroes in our community, giving everything they have for their students. Thus, rather than being the enemy, Jeffco teachers deserve to be treated with respect and to be fairly compensated as they were promised during the recession.  Unfortunately, I think’s it’s very clear the current board majority feels differently and thus needs to be recalled.

John Mulhern lives in Arvada with his wife and three children who attend Jeffco schools.

We can’t say it enough: Please vote for Ali Lasell in District 3 and Amanda Stevens in District 4. Then vote YES to recall Julie Williams, John Newkirk and Ken Witt, and choose successor candidates Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell.

Don’t know where to find a 24-hour ballot drop box? Look here.

24 hour Drive-up Ballot locations- Jefferson County, Colorado

Elections Locations for Voting and Ballots – 24 hour Drop-off locations

A list of other ballot drop-off locations is here.

And for early voting and polling center locations you can look here.


 

 

Radio Jeffco: Interview With Beloved Former Arvada West Teacher Shannon MacKenzie

Incredibly strong story by Radio Jeffco.

Click on the link below to actually listen to the voice of a beloved and highly effective Jeffco teacher (Shannon MacKenzie, English teacher at Arvada West) that left because of the board majority. Her stories embody so much of why this recall is necessary. Please share broadly.

Shannon MacKenzie

Podcasts

Our mission is to share the voices of Jeffco residents concerned about outsiders trying to take control of our schools and community.


 

7.9.15 In Her Own Words

Recently Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee sent a communication to parents in which he denigrated teachers, saying that “dedicated teachers” were staying, indicating that he thinks teachers who leave are not dedicated.  Let’s hear some factual information instead from an extremely dedicated, highly qualified, and highly effective teacher from of Jefferson County’s excellent high schools.

I am a veteran science teacher with a degree in my field, over 10 years of experience, and a highly effective rating.  I chose to leave Jefferson County because I do not support the direction or the methods of Witt, Williams, and Newkirk.  I left for a district that values and supports its teachers, students, and community members.

The new pay scheme that was introduced by Witt, Williams, and Newkirk does not support the achievement of all students.  It makes it more difficult to teach at high poverty schools and to teach courses offered specifically for struggling students.  It gives teachers no incentive to continue their education.

Teachers need to learn from each other.  The new pay scheme pits teachers against each other to compete for the top scores on their evaluations.  It makes the relationships between teachers and administrators combative when it should be collaborative.

Witt, Williams, and Newkirk chose not to help our neediest students at the point in their schooling when it could make the greatest difference. They chose not to completely fund full day kindergarten to needy kids across the district.  They do not want to invest in our kids.

Due to their interest in a review of the AP US History curriculum, I am worried that Witt, Williams, and Newkirk will try to exercise more control over science curriculum.  I expect that they will try to impose their radical views on the teaching of what they consider to be controversial topics in science:  evolution, climate science, geology, and vaccinations.

Last year, Witt, Williams, and Newkirk showed that they have no intention of working with the teachers to come to agreement over the working conditions in schools.  They rejected the findings of a mediator and instead unilaterally imposed a compensation scheme on the teachers.

I am worried that future changes to the teachers’ contract will cause class sizes to increase.  I am worried that future changes to the teachers’ contract at the high school level will be expected to teach more class sections.  This will leave teachers with less time to work with individual students, develop engaging lessons, and provide feedback to students.

The propaganda machine at the district communications department will do its utmost to spin the facts.  Don’t let them bamboozle you.  Listen to the voices of the people who make up your child’s learning environment.

Note: To minimize retaliation against this teacher we are choosing to allow her to remain anonymous.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

7.6.15 A Response to Skeptics

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Some WNW supporters can’t handle the truth.

Last week, 9 News ran a story featuring Jeffco Exodus, a parent-run website and Facebook page chronicling the stories of teachers, administrators and staff leaving Jeffco. In it, one Jeffco resident questioned everything, including the turnover numbers from the Colorado Department of Education. One of our Jeffco teachers responded and shared her response with us and Jeffco Exodus.
We’ve printed her story below, and encourage you to share this with your friends and neighbors. Whether or not Horn truly wants to know the truth is an open question, but there are many Jeffco residents who are truly interested. Let’s make sure the rest of Jeffco keeps hearing the stories of teachers like Susan Coveyduck so they understand what is at stake.
Ms. Horn,
I saw your interview as part of the story broadcast by Nelson Garcia on 9 News the other night. It was about teacher mass exodus from Jefferson County schools. In the interview you posed a question that I thought I would politely answer for you. You also made a statement that I would like to address.
You wanted to know why Jeffco teachers are not happy that they’re getting a raise.  Well, first let me explain to you that I AM happy that the younger teachers in my district and the new hires are going to make significantly higher salaries in September, something that is more competitive with other districts. This is completely thanks to the MOU that my professional association negotiated with the school district.  This is finally some financial relief for about 1000 of the 5000 teachers in the district, about 20%.
The remaining 4000 teachers (80%) will be receiving a 1% increase. Since the average teacher in Jefferson County makes 52,000, after taxes this equates to about $38-$40 per month. Given that the rate of inflation is many times more than that, and that the recession depleted many of our savings, do you think this is sufficient to convince effective, highly effective and mastery level teachers to stay with the district? What if the other districts were offering a greater increase in salary? Denver public schools is offering OVER 5% to its teachers. Boulder County is offering 3% plus the cost of living increase that’s close to 3%. Does this sound like a competitive business model to you? I don’t think it takes an MBA to see that this is a bad design. You claim to be supportive of public education, but it would appear that instead you would promote a model which would destroy our schools. Is that what you want?
You made a statement in which you questioned the quality of the teachers who are choosing to leave. Do you think that Jeffco teachers would leave a paid position, especially if they have children, if they didn’t think that they had a competitive edge at getting a higher paid position?  I would respectfully suggest to you, Ms. Horn, that it will only be the most talented people competing for those highly desired jobs in other districts. The best teachers are leaving Jeffco schools, not the weakest. The weak would cling to their jobs for fear they might not find another.
I am an award-winning, mastery level teacher with 20 years of experience in Jefferson County schools. My current public school has performed in the top 10 schools in the STATE since it opened, 14 years ago. I could get a job anywhere I want. I would leave this year, I am so heartbroken by what is happening to my district, except I can’t afford to. The salary freeze that we agreed to and the subsequent loss of increase in salary due to the board majority has resulted in a loss of $20,000 to my household income. Thankfully, my husband is not also a teacher, or that pain would be double as it is for many Jeffco teachers. Instead, I will save as much as I can for the next two years and leave then. THIS EXODUS, AND THE FUTURE DEPARTURES WILL BE A HUGE LOSS TO THE DISTRICT.
Who will mentor the incoming teachers, teaching them superior methods, methods only learned through years of experience, trial and error?
I just thought you would like some answers to your questions. If you would like to speak more, with greater depth I would be happy to talk to you sometime. Unfortunately, I think many of the people who support this board majority don’t really understand what is happening on the inside. They are doing massive, hemorrhaging damage to a beautiful school district.
Susan Coveyduck, MA
Science Department Chair, Instructional Leader
8th Grade Science and STEM Elective
The Manning Option School, Golden 

Keep fighting, JeffCo!