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!


3.9.15 A New Surprise: Newkirk’s Jefferson Area “Plan B”

So by now you’ve hopefully heard about the Jeffco School Board member John Newkirk’s Jefferson Area “Plan B,” which he introduced (surprise!) in a motion at Thursday night’s meeting. In fact, it was one of a series of motions about the Jefferson Plan—one that took everyone by such surprise that even the board secretary, Marta Neil, had to ask Newkirk to repeat his motion because it wasn’t the motion she’d received in the board notes.

Here were the first motions:

1. Establish a 7-12 Jefferson High School.
2. Move grades 5 and 6 from Wheat Ridge 5-8 to Stevens Elementary.

Both motions passed unanimously.

And then, Newkirk’s third motion:

To move Everitt Middle School to Wheat Ridge 5-8, then move Manning Middle School to Everitt, and split Maple Grove into two schools. Maple Grove grades 4-6 would move to Manning Middle School and grades K-3 would stay at the current site.

The proposal was one suggested by the Wheat Ridge Articulation Alliance but has not been discussed with the Manning or Maple Grove communities, much less the Stevens, Everitt, and Sobesky communities.

District staff immediately pointed out that the third motion would make it impossible to carry out the second motion, because Stevens is already at capacity as a PK-4 school. They would be one classroom short starting out, and wouldn’t have room to grow.

Superintendent Dan McMinimee pointed out the third motion would make it impossible to move Sobesky to a new location and the district would lose both the opportunity bring Jeffco students back to Jeffco, and the opportunity to recoup some of the cost savings that would come with it. The current Sobesky campus is at capacity, resulting in some students being placed out of district. Between 40 to 60 Jeffco students currently placed out-of-district would be able to return. The cost to place a student out of district runs between $60k – $80k.

Julie Williams was obviously surprised by the motion and asked what would happen to Sobesky. Witt said they’d open a north campus. Williams asked where, and Witt dismissed her, saying the BOE would need recommendations from the district. Williams pointed out that a second campus would mean many additional costs, such as an additional principal.

Then she asked Newkirk why he supported the proposal, to which he responded that he wasn’t sure that he did, but thought it deserved a discussion because it had been brought forth by the community. Of note: only two people spoke in favor of this Plan B during public comment, though several spoke in favor of the Jefferson Area Plan.

Staff had also previously discussed the Wheat Ridge Alliance’s proposal but found it to be unworkable.

As a reminder, the proposed plan worked like this:

– Jefferson High School becomes a 7-12 school
– Stevens becomes a PK-6 school and moves to the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus.
– The 7th and 8th grade GT Center Program moves from WR 5-8 to Everitt Middle School, and allows 6th grade students from Stevens to matriculate to Everitt for 7th or to Jefferson HS as a first priority choice enrollment
– Sobesky Academy moves to the current Stevens campus

The motion was tabled and community meetings have been scheduled. Here are the dates of the community meetings for Everitt, Maple Grove and Manning:

  • Monday, March 16th, 6-7 pm., Everitt Middle School
  • Tuesday, March 17, 6-7 pm, Maple Grove Elementary
  • Wednesday, March 18, 6-7 pm, Manning Option School

Please spread the word, especially if you know families at these schools or families at Stevens and Sobesky, where, as best we can tell, no meetings have been scheduled to discuss how the failure to do anything would impact those school communities.

There’s more to come about Thursday’s board meeting, but we wanted to get the word out about the community meetings. The board is expected to vote on the tabled motion at the April regular meeting.

Keep watching, keep fighting JeffCo!


2.25.15 – BOE Feb. 19 meeting notes

UpdateAs noted in the pre-meeting agenda commentary, there was a lot going on at this board meeting. Some of these topics will be addressed again at the March 5 regular board meeting, though it’s not clear what direction the board will take on any of them.

Agenda Item 2:01 Jefferson Articulation Area Plan
This was the first of three times where Superintendent Dan McMinimee praised the presentation group. His opening accolades of the work by the six principals on the team sent a clear message that the Board should seriously consider approving this plan.

The discussion was lengthy, outlining the plans that will impact Jefferson High School, Wheat Ridge 5-8, Edgewater Elementary, Lumberg Elementary, Stevens Elementary, Molholm Elementary, and Everitt MS. If approved, Stevens Elementary will move to the Wheat Ridge 5-8 campus, and the district is proposing moving Sobesky Academy out of its aging building to the Stevens campus. The presentation team, consisting of the principals from each of the schools, fielded the board’s questions with welcomed exuberance. They even surveyed students about the plan, using a statistical rating system for students, parents and teachers that rated their degree of acceptance of these impacts. The mantra became “I’m very excited!”

A key concern about adding 7th and 8th graders to Jefferson High School deals with their safety. These fears were addressed with diagrams of the school layout that essentially creates a school within a school, separating the younger students from the older ones most of the day.

Following the presentation, Jill Fellman asked what Wheat Ridge 5-8 Principal Warren Blair meant when he said they might need to request “Innovation Status.” Blair said while it would not be likely, they didn’t want to shut that door and wanted to be completely transparent with the community. A request for that status requires collaboration with the school community, JCEA and the BOE. Examples of items they might consider, for example, include waiver that might allow them to expand the school day or add teaching training time beyond the contract. Blair also pointed out any principal can start the Innovation Status process at any time, but it is a collaborative process that must take place with staff, community and BOE input.

John Newkirk questioned a plan that was put forward in 2006 of a similar nature and wanted to know why that did not work and how this plan was different? It was explained that former plan was for a K-8 school and not relevant to this situation.

Another major area of concern was the impact on moving Sobesky Academy, a special school that serves Jeffco students with severe emotional disabilities. Currently, Sobesky is in a building from the 1940s that is too small to accommodate the entire district population, and which also has safety code issues. Board members praised the program but expressed concern that these students may have a longer bus ride to the proposed new location on the current Stevens Elementary campus.

Lesley Dahlkemper urged more community input and the team outlined plans to incorporate parents in both summer and beginning of the year orientations. The principals were very honest in saying there is still much work to do but they cannot move forward without Board approval at the March meeting. The unified principal team was a major selling point for board members.

Agenda Item 2.01: Interest Based Bargaining Overview
This was an overview of the bargaining system that the district has used for a number of years. Dennis Dougherty, facilitator, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, explained the process step by step to the board:

1) Define the Issue
2) Share Interests
3) Generate Options
4) Evaluate Options
5) Craft Solutions

He continually reiterated that if either side comes to the table with a solution rather than a proposal, the IBB process would not work. He also described in detail the pre-preparation that involves team training and even the room arrangement for the discussion of the topics. The bottom line is that in order for this to work, the following needs to happen:

1) Trust between parties
2) Buy-in by everyone
3) Commitment by all members
4) Openness to options and alternatives.

Members of JCEA offered their view of the process and why they think IBB best bargaining method. At the end of the discussion, Ken Witt said he trusted his negotiating team to figure out the best method. He refused to allow questions or comments from other board members, stating that it was merely a training session. Dahlkemper in turn, insisted on her right to speak and added her own favorable impression of the process from when Jeffco Schools and JCEA have used IBB in the past.

Agenda Item 2.03: Teacher Licensure Process: Alternative Programs
Currently, there are nine teachers in the district — seven in charter schools — that have an alternative license. Basically this means the individual has a bachelor’s degree and has passed a content area test.

It was hard to gauge exactly where this conversation was headed except for this question by Newkirk, “Are we using Teach for America?” Jeffco does not use TFA, in part because TFA was originally organized to fill teacher shortages in inner cities. Jeffco Chief Human Resources Director Amy Weber also pointed out that historically, Jeffco has had a rich pool from which to hire teachers. Hmmm.

Julie Williams asked about Warren Tech. It was explained that Warren Tech falls into a different category and does not require an alternative license. Some of the Warren Tech instructors qualify for vocational certification, which allows them to teach using their area of expertise.

Williams also wanted to draw a comparison of highly effective teachers in our public schools compared to those in our charter schools. Weber very pointedly explained that we can’t compare highly effective teachers to charter schools because the charter schools are waved from a form of evaluation that would rate them. Cha Ching! Witt wants more information on this issue.

Agenda Item 2.04 Student Based Budgeting Update
There are plenty of questions to ask on this subject. This was a very detailed presentation explaining the formula for determining the amount of money a school receives to follow-through on their own budget planning.

This presentation team began by explaining the old-central office approach of allocation vs. local school control of academic funds. There point was the “once size fits all” did not’ work. During the presentation, sometimes it was confusing to know which funds belonged to the individual school and which monetary role still belonged to central office.

Fellman raised concerns that Jeffco’s sense of community could be undermined as each school has autonomy, and that the district might miss out on efficiencies of scale if schools are making individual purchases of supplies, textbooks and other programs. Dahlkemper brought up the concern that some schools will choose to drop their kindergarten program if they do not have enough kids. There were also concerns about whether the system could be “gamed.”

For example, could a school that wanted to expand its art classes cut back on music classes to do so? The answer is that no, each school has a strict set of guidelines they have to follow cutting back on any of the three elementary-mandated “specials” would not be allowed.

Many of the rules are linked to the current JCEA contract, and the big money question is what could happen regarding those restrictions should the contract not be renewed.

When Williams asked how this was going to impact the at risk or special needs students, the presenters pointed out that under this system, because of Federal funds to those groups, they may actually have more money to spend on services.

It’s also having an impact on full-day kindergarten in Jeffco. This deserves a much longer post. For now, suffice it to say that the number of schools offering free FDK is dropping from 40 Jeffco Schools to 26/31. Why the split number? Of the 31, 5 are schools that anticipate their entire kindergarten population will qualify for free FDK as free- and reduced-lunch children. The other 26 are using SBB dollars to provide free FDK. The rest will charge the $300/month number that has been set by the district as the kindergarten fee. This deserves a separate post and we will address it again in the following weeks.

Another big question: Will schools opt to get rid of an expensive teacher to hire two less expensive teachers? The current answer is no, an average salary is assumed for all teachers. What that seems to mean is that staffing for teachers is not being done by real dollar amounts, at least this year. It was a question that surfaced repeatedly.

Our best understanding is that, for example, a K-6 school with two classrooms per grade would state they needed 14 full-time teachers, and that in the current SBB system, the district would translate that as a standard money amount, regardless of whether that school’s specific teachers are more or less experienced. Any “shortage” would be made up by the fact that at other schools, some teachers are less experienced and lower on the pay scale, so it all works out at the district level—hence the “average salary.” McMinimee said he didn’t want schools to be in a position of choosing quality over quantity. It should be interesting to see how it plays out this year.

What quietly was pointed out near the end of this discussion is that under SBB, $2 million is being transferred from high schools to elementary schools to help balance out larger elementary class sizes. Chief School Effectiveness Officer Terry Elliot explained that most high school teachers were not at the high end of their daily student count whereas a lot of elementary schools are seeing classes of 28-33 students. (There was speculation on Twitter that this was only happening in areas of new development, but that’s not the case. Many of us know multiple elementary schools that are seeing extremely large class sizes even at the K-2 levels all over the district.)

What it will mean is staff cuts at the high school. This process is a radical change and it may still be too early to measure the positive and/or negative outcomes. We need to hear from the impacted staff.

Agenda Item 2.05: Classroom Dashboard Update
Four million dollars later…and? When the presenters themselves infer that this is its own “story”, it is not surprising that some of the Board questions were digging at the past history and the money trail. Superintendent McMinimee was smart to meet Witt’s question head on when Witt, the self-proclaimed “tech guy” began to question the character of the vender, LoudCloud. McMinimee flatly stated that Witt was correct and the vendor was essentially not doing his job. He made it very clear that Jeffco and vendor are back on track.

The Board members seemed to be expecting an immediate roll out of the program (Aren’t we all?) but Dashboard is still in the design stage with bits and pieces coming together. The first pilot started in January and includes 15 schools, but many of the components of Dashboard are not up and running …yet. With so much money already invested, this seems to be a wait and see. What the Board did request is an outline of security measures for this program.

Agenda Item 2:06 Alameda Facilities Plan Update
“Are you not as excited about this as Jefferson High School or are you just tired because it is so late?” Williams asked presenters about the Alameda Plan during the presentation. The reply from Alameda Principal Susie Van Scoyk was, “It’s late.”

Yet, this plan to move Stein Elementary students to O’Connell and grades 7 & 8 to Alameda High School was not presented with nearly the same enthusiasm as the Jefferson group with their plan. It was clear in the presentation that this Alameda High School change is a tougher sell to the community, students and staff than the Jefferson Articulation plan was to their community.

Elliot provided a detailed plan that showed that the planners are trying to allay the concerns of parents with the middle school/high school merge. Alameda will use staggered schedules and lunch times as just two example of keeping the middle school students away from the upper classmen. The key here for the change is about Stein Elementary. It was presented as the best option to help this elementary school.

Also of note: an expansion to Stein Elementary was part of the failed 2008 bond package. Expanding the school now is out of the question because there are too many temporary buildings and because there’s no place to otherwise put the children while expansion might take place. Is there a lesson worth noting here?

Don’t let them forget we’re watching, and keep fighting, JeffCo!




That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.

— Noam Chomsky

JCSBW readers, we’re happy to be back and back strong with a new plan to keep the posts rolling out.

And with that, it’s time for BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm.

Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden

(If you cannot attend, please watch the live video stream at: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310 Also, please let Jeffco Schools and us know if you have trouble with the live stream. We know several people who have been unable to watch the stream. In some cases the stream pauses every 5 seconds, and in others there is video or audio, but never both.)

Overall Comments: There’s a lot going on at this special meeting. Two articulation area plans are on the agenda, as is an introduction to Interested based Bargaining (IBB), a discussion of alternative teacher licensure, employee negotiations, student based budgeting and even a classroom dashboard update. (Remember the classroom dashboard? It’s been a while since we’ve heard about it.) This is an important meeting that will expose more of WNW’s plans for the district.

Key Agenda Items

Agenda Item 2.01: Jefferson Articulation Area Plan (EL-11)

Type: Discussion, Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer; Warren Blair, principal, Wheat Ridge 5-8; Celeste Sultze, principal, Edgewater Elementary; Rhonda Hatch-Rivera, principal, Lumberg Elementary; Heather Stewart, principal, Stevens Elementary; John D’Orazio, principal, Molholm Elementary; Michael James, principal, Jefferson High School

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to be provided an update on the developments of the Jefferson Area Plan, for the articulation area schools in the 2015/2016 school year to support increased student achievement and opportunities.

BACKGROUND: Over the last few months, a group of dedicated school leaders have been talking, visioning, and researching strategies to enhance achievements and post-secondary options for our valued students in the Jefferson articulation area.  To address student achievement, student retention, program options and to improve state performance ratings for all schools, the Jefferson articulation principals developed an improvement plan framework focused on building stronger alignment of resources to address the environmental factors impacting the area’s K-12 student population.  The framework was designed to gather staff and community input in order to develop a Jefferson Area Plan with the first phase being implemented for the 2015-2016 school year.

An update on this plan was presented to the Board of Education at the January 15 regular business meeting.

Our Comments: The plan put forward here by the principals is a means of being pro-active in addressing the environmental factors that are impacting educational outcomes for students in the community. By moving forward with a plan, the principals are claiming ownership of the problem and solutions.

Including more teacher and parent input in this beginning process would present a stronger case to the Board and community that this is a feasible venture and needs to be considered in the planning. This plan needs to be owned by the community to definitely avoid a top-down decision from the Board that might fit another agenda.

Agenda Item 2.02: Negotiations: Interest Based Bargaining Overview (EL-4, 11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Dennis Dougherty, facilitator, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services; JCEA Bargaining Team member(s); Karen Jones, principal secretary, Columbine High School, CSEA Bargaining Team; Amy Weber, chief human resources officer

 PURPOSE:  For the Board of Education to receive the requested training on Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) as Jeffco begins negotiations with JCEA and CSEA.

BACKGROUND: Negotiations are typically conducted either through traditional bargaining or Interest Based Bargaining (IBB). For multiple years, Jeffco’s negotiating teams have used IBB. The facilitator who has worked with the JCEA negotiating teams for the past several years will provide an overview on IBB to the Board, and members of the negotiating team will share their insights as to the process.

Attachments: coming soon

Our Comments: Interest Based Bargaining is a joint approach to problem solving. By starting with an understanding of the issues and pinpointing the concerns that affect each side’s positions, IBB helps identify common views, goals, etc. of both sides.  It is defined as:

A negotiating strategy in which both sides start with declarations of their interests instead of putting forward proposals, and work to develop agreements that satisfy common interests and balance opposing interests. Interest-based bargaining is also called integrative or win-win bargaining. 

Interest-based bargaining goes by a host of names such as “consensus bargaining,” “problem-solving negotiations,” “win-win,” “mutual gains,” “collaborative bargaining,” “principled negotiations,” and others. Effective IBB includes:

  • Sharing relevant information is critical for effective solutions.
  • Focusing on issues, not personalities.
  • Focusing on the present and future, not the past.
  • Focusing on the interests underlying the issues.
  • Focusing on mutual interests, and helping to satisfy the other party’s interests as well as your own.
  • Options developed to satisfy those interests should be evaluated by objective criteria, rather than power or leverage.

The leadership style of the Board majority thus far has not demonstrated a leaning towards  “collaborative bargaining” as they have block voted on many issues not comfortable with the Board minority, teachers and/or community members. 

Whatever their interest in IBB, we suspect that WNW are hatching a plan to make the teachers look bad whatever choice(s) they make so that they can cut the contract. Their plans are likely orchestrated to wind up with that result no matter what approach JCEA takes.

If we’re right, then this is all window dressing.  All this despite the fact that there’s no data to support increased student achievement without the presence of a unified voice for teachers.” The reaction to the teachers’ discussion of the IBB process at this meeting will deliver a clear message of the Board majority’s intent for negotiations.

We will also note that JCEA and the BOE used IBB last year too, which begs several questions regarding why WNW are just now choosing to familiarize themselves with IBB.

 Agenda Item 2.03: Teacher Licensure Process: Alternative Programs (EL-11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Amy Weber, chief human resources officer; Karie Yenter, employment services manager

PURPOSE: The Board of Education requested a discussion on teacher licensure and alternative programs.

BACKGROUND: Teachers working in Jeffco’s neighborhood and alternative education schools must be licensed by the state to be hired as teachers. Additionally, they must be highly qualified in their content area.  Teachers working at our charter schools are not required to hold a teaching license, provided that the district submits licensure waivers. They are, however, required to hold a bachelor’s degree and meet content requirements.  All special education teachers and providers serving all our schools, including charters, must hold a state license. There are no waivers for these categories of staff.  Colorado provides a mechanism for teachers to obtain a license through alternative licensure pathways.

Attachments: Alternative Teacher Licensure Feb 19

Our Comments: The fact that this is on this meeting’s agenda suggests that WNW are already looking into alternatives to replace the hoards of teachers likely to flee after they cut ties with the union. As they’ve made repeatedly clear, they place more trust in untested individuals who have been doing anything other than teaching than they do in the trained and experienced professionals who have dedicated years of their life to being excellent teachers.

Agenda Item 2.04: Student Based Budgeting Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, chief financial officer and Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the 2015/2016 budget development process for school sites.

BACKGROUND: The Board of Education received an overview of the Student Based Budgeting (SBB) process initiative implemented by former CFO Lorie Gillis for the 2015/2016 school year.  The Board requested an update on SBB following the submission of budgets from the participating schools.  The discussion will provide details on the process and insights from the initial review of submitted school budgets.

Attachments: Coming soon.

Our Comments: District staff are already talking about the “second iteration” of SBB when addressing schools (or at least when talking to the schools who were about to have their school psychologist or social worker dropped to half time), so it should be interesting to see what issues they are already addressing in the first iteration.

We would also like to hear them address why items such as instructional coaches—who were supposed to be paid for through the 2012 3A mill levy override funds, are now an option schools can choose to fund (or not) in SBB.

Agenda Item 2.05: Classroom Dashboard Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer; Brett Miller, chief information officer; Mary Beth Bazzanella, director, Educational Technology; Curtis Lee, director, Data Quality/Education Technology

PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the status of the Classroom Dashboard project. 

BACKGROUND: The Board of Education requested an update on the status of the Classroom Dashboard project. The presentation will provide information on the work completed to date and next steps.

Attachments: 0219 Classroom Dashboard BOE Update.pdf

Our Comments: It’s been a while since we’ve heard about the Classroom Dashboard. As a reminder, the previous board voted to cut ties with inBloom in November 2013, and the plan was that the district would move ahead with an in-house version of the dashboard—a move that would be more costly and take more time, but which was thought to alleviate many of the concerns about data privacy and security. 

Nelson Garcia of 9News recently did a story on the dashboard — a $600,000 project. When he contacted Jeffco, officials refused to answer any of his questions. We think Nelson’s wording was deliberate. Typically, journalists will state that a person or organization “did not respond to questions” if they were unable to get a response, but save “refused to answer questions” for situations in which a person specifically said they were not going to answer questions.

Is the district moving ahead? Are WNW trying to bury the project so it never sees the light of day?

Agenda Item 2.06: Alameda Facilities Plan Update (EL-11)

Type: Information

PRESENTING STAFF: Terry Elliott, chief school effectiveness officer; Susie Van Scoyk, principal, Alameda International High School; Jennifer Kirksey, principal, O’Connell Middle School; Samantha Salazar, principal, Stein Elementary School

PURPOSE: To provide the Board of Education an overview and update on the developments of the proposed solution to the facilities needs in the Alameda articulation area.

BACKGROUND: In order to meet the growing enrollment pressures in the Alameda articulation area, which have been reviewed by the Board, a proposal was developed by staff to create an additional elementary campus.  This move would utilize the current Alameda International High School campus to become a 7-12 campus with three wings (7-8, 9-10, 11-12) enabling the creation of a new elementary school on the site of the current O’Connell Middle School.  This would alleviate the over capacity issues at Stein, Deane and Lasley elementary schools and provide additional room for future growth in the area.

Attachments: coming soon.

Our Comments: This is primarily an attempt to address overcrowding at Stein without bothering with such pesky things as a school expansion or building new schools. Significant concerns regarding keeping 7th and 8th graders safe were expressed when this topic was discussed at the January meeting.

Agenda Item 2.07: Employee Negotiations (EL-4, -11)

Type: Discussion

PRESENTING STAFF: Jim Branum, attorney, Caplan and Earnest; Amy Weber, chief human resources officer; Craig Hess, chief legal counsel and executive director of Employee Relations; Steve Bell, chief operating officer

PURPOSE: The Board will continue discussions with the district negotiating team.

BACKGROUND: On January 15, the Board of Education adopted the resolution requesting the commencement of good faith negotiations for a successor agreement with the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) and optional proposals with the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA).  Under Colorado law, school board discussions regarding employee contracts must be conducted in open session (except under specific circumstances).

Attachments: 2015 115 Att A reso Good Faith Negotiations.pdf

Our Comments: Preliminary discussions about negotiations have been anything but cordial so far. WNW have questioned interested based bargaining (see above), are insisting that the meetings be streamed and recorded (without editing…apparently they suspect that the streaming issues reported by others are subtle attempts to edit the stream as opposed to an actual tech problem?), and oddly, given their concern about then number of employed people who cannot attend negotiations during the day (including teachers!), voted for a mix of days, evenings, and weekends.

WNW are also strongly leaning toward jettisoning Facilitator Dennis Dougherty of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services because Dougherty has stated he will not agree to stream or record the negotiations. If they move forward with this plan, a facilitator will cost Jeffco taxpayers as much as $800-$1,200 per day, for upwards of $20,000 depending on how many days the negotiations take.

Predictably, Williams’ response to the cost was that the expense would be worthwhile. (That was her response to the budget survey too. Expenses considered worthwhile by WNW: a $90,000 per year BOE lawyer, a $10,000 budget survey that many people are unhappy with, and $20,000 for contract negotiations that will accomplish nothing unless WNW agree to negotiation in good faith—unlike last year.)

Agenda Item 2.09: Board Retreat

Type: Discussion


PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its retreat scheduled for February 28.
BACKGROUND: The Board has set aside the morning of February 28 to hear from individuals regarding school configuration and innovation in k-12 education.

Our Comments: The retreat was originally Julie Williams’ suggestion, because she wanted to know what education innovations in the 21st century looked like before approving $80 million in Certificates of Participation to build traditional schools in rapidly-growing parts of Jeffco.

 At the BOE’s Feb. 5 meeting, we learned that Steve House, who’s running to be the Colorado Republican Party Chair, will be one of the individuals talking about innovation in K-12 education. Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper questioned the choice, asking what experience had had in education. House’s experience includes a failed bid for the 2014 gubernatorial election and a long career involving IT, sales and healthcare technology. He is currently a healthcare consultant, according to Linkedin.

We don’t see any evidence of experience with K-12 at all, and questions by Fellman and Dahlkemper also failed to explain why a single minute of the retreat should be devoted to this speaker. Of note: he is a 2010 graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies.

When Dahlkemper asked Witt, “Who is the educator on this list,” Witt’s response was, “These are perspectives on education.” The other WNW speaker is Tony Lewis, the executive director of the Donnell-Kay Foundation, a supporter of school reform and school privatization efforts. After a long discussion, it was suggested that two others might be included to balance the discussion. Scott Fast and a representative from Job Creators Network were added to the retreat agenda. Perhaps Thursday’s discussion will shed more light on their motivations for choosing House and Lewis.

Let’s Keep Fighting, JeffCo!