3A and 3B: A Matter of Trust in Leadership

If you’re still on the fence about 3A and 3B, the Jeffco Schools’ mill and bond initiative, don’t underestimate the importance of leadership and trust for the current school board in your decision-making.

One year ago, the previous school board majority was ousted by huge margins in favor of a “Clean Slate.” Readers of Jeffco School Board Watch will remember vividly that our formation was closely tied to the shenanigans of the previous board majority. Simply put, they were untrustworthy. Yes, the three of them lived in Jeffco, but it was clear that they were answering to ideologues, and often outside interests, rather than to what the majority of the community was saying.

Fast forward to today: hasn’t it been refreshing that the new school board has been in the news…so little? The five “new” board members–Ron Mitchell, Amanda Stevens, Ali Lasell, Brad Rupert, and Susan Harmon–do in fact represent their communities, govern responsibly and cautiously-yet-boldly, and have restored a great measure of professionalism and trust to traditions of Jeffco Schools.

During the course of the year, they have done yeoman’s work quietly but thoughtfully rebuilding foundations of trust in the community. Complaints have been few. The bottom line is that they are doing their job with a level of seriousness and community engagement that we have come to expect of our district leaders.

Having shorn up the relationship with our hard-working teachers, parents, and taxpayers, now they are asking for the community to reinvest in the schools again. They recognize that Jeffco’s aging buildings are in real need of repair and updating if we are to remain a first class district. They realize that many of our best teachers have left, and are still tempted to leave, because of wage stagnation, especially relative to other neighboring districts.

Most of all, they see that Jeffco kids suffer the brunt of the state’s underfunding, not just through deteriorating facilities and underpaid teachers, but also through many other cuts and restrictions to enriching parts of their education, such as music and athletics programs, technology investments, and more.

The numbers and stories behind Jeffco 3A 3B ask make sense in and of themselves, but undergirding those reasons is that we trust this board and their leadership. They have worked hard, made the case to us, and we urge everyone to vote “Yes” on 3A and 3B, not to reward the board of education, but because the case they’ve made to the community has been sensible, clear, and inspiring.

JeffCo Proud!

3A – Funding to Address Student Achievement, Whole Child

Less than one year ago, the Jeffco community came together to make a critical change to our school board. By a 2-1 margin, Jeffco voters made it clear that they wanted school board members who have Jeffco students’ best interests at heart.

We at JeffCo School Board Watch support the five new school board members’ decision to put a mill levy override and bond on this November’s ballot. We are pleased to see that funds from the mill, 3A, will be distributed equitably to benefit all of Jeffco’s 155 schools – including every neighborhood school, option school, and charter school.

Charter schools, which educate 10 percent of Jeffco’s students, will receive 10 percent of the mill. And that same equitable distribution will be true for all neighborhood and option schools in Jeffco.

Under the current school budget system, known as Student Based Budgeting (SBB), Jeffco’s schools have a small amount of discretionary money that allows them to choose the services, programming, and support that will most benefit their unique student population. The mill levy override will provide much-needed funds so that schools can fully afford choices that support student achievement while also nurturing the whole child.

Exciting options include more hands-on learning opportunities, enhanced and expanded art, music, career and technical education, as well as additional investment in and expansion of STEM – science, technology, math and engineering – programming.

Schools that only have a half-time librarian might use some of the discretionary money from 3A to pay for a full-time librarian, while other schools may choose to invest the dollars into a full-time counselor, math or reading interventionist, or additional hands-on opportunities for their students.

Jeffco’s 2020 Vision talks about what a successful graduate in the year 2020 will be able to do, and places a priority on providing all Jeffco students – from the youngest to those heading off to college or a career – the necessary educational experiences to achieve this vision.

Students need 21st century skills so they’re prepared for the jobs of the future. They need greater access to STEM, technology and hands-on experiences.

They need to hone their abilities when it comes to teamwork, critical thinking, strong math and science knowledge, and a strong reading and writing base. The Jeffco 2020 Vision also requires multiple pathways and differentiated learning supports based on student needs.

As a community, we rely on Jeffco students to become our future leaders. Issue 3A invests in Jeffco students’ future.

Our district needs your help to ensure voters have the facts so they can support this measure. Please donate to help the Yes on 3A & 3B campaign educate more voters.

We fully expect the ousted school board members and their cohorts to invest in mailers that distort the truth. By investing in the campaign, you can help  Jeffco voters understand the important of investing in Jeffco students.

The Yes on 3A and 3B campaign could also use your help walking door to door, or calling voters, or writing a letter to the editor.

Pick up and display a yard sign, and print out this sign for your car window.

After you vote, start using this graphic in your social media profiles to encourage others to vote, too.

img_7421Please join all of us at JeffCo School Board Watch as we work together to pass 3A and 3B November 8!


JeffCo Proud!

11/17 WNW, Due Diligence, & Racism – Monday Do List – BOE Meeting Prep

I love Julie cakeApparently some people up in Evergreen thought that the last few months had been very rough on Witt, Newkirk, Williams, and McMinimee.  

To cheer them up, a group of them got together and threw a little event last Monday night (Nov 10th) at The Barn in Evergreen, complete with a cake!

Who were these thoughtful supporters?  The listed sponsors included six Tea Parties, five Republican groups, Jeffco Conservatives, Jeffco Students First, and the American Freedom Party.

The American Freedom Party?  Who are they?

A quick look at Wikipedia brought us to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s entry on the American Freedom Party:

The American Freedom Party (formerly American Third Position) is a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule. The group is now led by a coterie of prominent white nationalists, including corporate lawyer William D. Johnson, virulent anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald and white nationalist radio host James Edwards. David Duke’s former right-hand man, Jamie Kelso, helps with organizing. The party has big plans to run candidates nationwide.”

The last paragraph of their analysis states that the American Freedom Party…

attempts to appeal to a perhaps more independent or Libertarian demographic, in addition to white nationalists…. Its mission statement is where a mention of the AFP’s true leanings occurs. Toward the bottom…it states that it is a party ‘that represents the interests of White Americans and all Americans who support our interests.’”

All of this raises a number of questions, but the biggest one is,

Why did Witt, Newkirk, Williams, McMinimee, the principals of Conifer, Evergreen, and  D’Evelyn high schools, the principal of Ft. Collins Liberty Commons charter school, and Sheila Atwell of Jeffco Students First agree to attend a meeting sponsored, in part, by a white supremacist party?

The first reaction is, maybe they didn’t know?

But that raises the question of:

Didn’t they check the sponsorship list before they agreed to attend?

The list of sponsoring groups is right there on the flyer.

11.10.2014ETPEducationnighteventflyerThe flyer was posted on the My Mountain Town website.  Why didn’t someone check?

What kind of message does it send when the leadership of Jefferson County Public Schools attend a blatantly partisan rally that lists a white supremacist political party as one of its sponsors? A simple check of the American Freedom Party website should have been enough to have every one of the Jeffco officials refusing or canceling immediately.  Certainly even Ken Witt (who is on record as disliking the word ‘diversity’) is not so politically tone-deaf to knowingly attend an event sponsored by a racist hate group.

Why did not anyone check?!

Another possible explanation is that maybe it is simply a mistake.  People who were there say that all the sponsors had posters up indicating their sponsorship. There was no American Freedom Party poster…but there was an Americans For Prosperity poster.  The original flyer does not show American For Prosperity, but they had a poster.  The flyer does shows American Freedom Party, but they did not have a poster.  They both, apparently, go by the initials of “AFP”, so…a simple mistake?

Okay.  That is possible.

But that still leaves unanswered the question:

Didn’t McMinimee, Newkirk, Williams, Witt, and the rest at least check the list of sponsors on the flyer and website?  

It also raises another question:

How did someone working for the Evergreen group confuse Americans For Prosperity with American Freedom Party?

If that person saw “AFP” and did not know what it meant, how did they end up with American Freedom Party?  And why didn’t someone else catch it?

If they did catch it, then why was nothing said about it (such as an apology) at the beginning of the event?

All of this raises strong concerns about the judgement of WNW, McMinimee, Sheila Atwell, and the school principals.  It also raises questions about just what Brad Miller is doing to earn his $90,000/year part-time salary as the “Board’s Attorney” if not to keep them from making this kind of mistake!

Newkirk, McMinimee, the Jeffco Principals, the founder of the newly approved Golden View Classical Academy, and Sheila Atwell showed up…and made no mention of any ‘error’.  As it turns out, perhaps due to the snow, Witt and Williams did not show up Monday night, but sent their regrets.

(Perhaps Mr. Miller earned a small amount of his $250/hr from the time he leaves his house in Colorado Springs, by stopping WNW from possibly violating the Colorado Open Meetings law and having the three of them meet up at the event?)

In addition to being, at best, incredibly careless, failing to do due diligence, absolutely sending the wrong message to our students, teachers, staff, and voters, this failure of judgment has done one more thing.  It gives us a new meaning for WNW:  

Who’s Not Wise….

 (7:00 a.m. update –  Since we published this post, two Jeffco parents have copied us on an email they have sent directly to the JeffCo invitees, e.g., Newkirk, Witt, Williams, McMinimee, Paxton, Alsup, Edwards, and Schuler.  Below is the text from their email with a link to the letter they enclosed.  We will publish the letter also directly on our Facebook link.

Dear Jeffco School Board members Mr. Newkirk, Mr. Witt and Ms. Williams, Jeffco Superintendent Mr. McMinimee, Jeffco high school principals Mr. Paxton (Conifer), Mr. Alsup (Evergreen) & Mr. Edwards (D’Evelyn), and Golden View Classical Academy Founder Derec Shuler (via the office of Tim Matlick – please forward):

Attached please find a letter from fellow Jeffco parent Tina Gurdikian and myself regarding your participation in a meeting co-sponsored by the American Freedom Party. We are anxious to hear your responses to our questions. Please send those to both tgurdikian@hotmail.com <mailto:tgurdikian@hotmail.com> and kellyjjj@me.com <mailto:kellyjjj@me.com> at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter.

Kelly Johnson & Tina Gurdikian
Jeffco Parents

Letter Regarding American Freedom Party)

Monday Do List:
We will keep this one short:

  1. Send an email to the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) demanding to know why the District allowed representatives to attend a meeting where a listed sponsor is a white supremacist hate group.  Demand to know why Witt, Newkirk, and Williams agreed to attend.  Include in the email the fact that if it was a simple mistake why didn’t WNW, McMinimee, and the principals check the flyer and website before attending!  Also, why are they associating with people who can confuse a White Racist political party with the Koch billionaire-funded political money group?
  2. If you have not already volunteered to work against WNW’s deconstruction of JeffCo, go to our web page Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda and choose a group to help!
  3. Do you want to know which of it’s own policies WNW is driving the Board to violate, check our new page “WNW Board Policy Violations”.
  4. Read the Meeting Prep for this Thursday’s Board Meeting.
  5. Plan on going to the Board Meeting!

BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday November 20, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden
(If you cannot attend, please watch via live video stream at: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Note:  This is a “Special” Meeting with a ‘Study/Dialogue’ focus.  As such, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams refuse to allow Public Comment.

Key Agenda Items
Agenda Item 2.01:  First Quarter Financial Report 2014-15
Type: Discussion, Information
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Independent auditor, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, Members of the Financial Oversight Committee
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to monitor the districtwide condition as outlined in Board executive limitation policies EL-5 Financial Planning and Budgeting and EL-6 Financial Administration. Staff will identify funds, departments and/or schools to monitor closely throughout the year.
BACKGROUND: In compliance with Board executive limitation policy EL-6 Financial Administration, the Board will meet to review and monitor quarterly financial reports.

Attachments: Sept 2014 Transmittal FINAL 1st Quarter.pdf (199 KB),1st QUARTER REPORT Sept 2014 with Appendix-view.pdf (2,737 KB), 2014 11 20 1st Qtr Financial Rept 2014-2015 Presentation.pdf (311 KB), CLA Report on Applying AUP 1st Qtr.pdf (43 KB)

Our Comments: If you do not have the time or the background to wade through the detailed financials, it is always worth reading the “Independent Accountant’s Report” from CliftonLarsonAllen.  In this one the things they paid attention to included:  

The current budget report does not include:

  • The new comp plan WNW rammed down the throats of JCEA without negotitations.
  • the Sol Vista and north Highway 93 growth areas will add up to 3,000 more elementary students and 6,000 overall students in the next few years (WNW seems to think the new charter school they approved – with a maximum capacity of 750, will handle this increase).
  • Mount Evans (the Outdoor Lab) will have significant repairs this quarter.

There is a current deficit of just under $3 million due to timing of property tax collections.

Yellow Flags have been given to:

  • Food Service Fund for higher food costs
  • Charter School Rocky Mountain Deaf School is borrowing $212k from the District while waiting for approval from CDE (Colorado Department of Education) for billing districts higher than normal rates for taking their students.
  • Mountain Phoenix is not borrowing right now, although it is approved for up to $250k.
  • Collegiate Academy is not borrowing right now (it is approved for up to $400k), but the project FTE (Full-Time Enrollment) growth (i.e., more students) did not happen.  Collegiate is counting on increased revenue from the mill levy override to cover the gap.

Other issues coming up include badly needed renovations, upgrades, improvements, and new schools, new technology roll-out, Special Education costs, Student Based Budgeting and Priority Based Budgeting.

Budgets are seen as dull, dry, and boring.  But it is where 90% of the actual building up or tearing down happens.  

Agenda Item 2.02:  Legislative Platform 2015
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Ed Bowditch, district lobbyist
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its legislative priorities for the 2015 Colorado Legislative Session beginning in January 2015.
BACKGROUND: Annually, the Board prepares a statement of principles and priorities, its Legislative Platform.  This document provides direction to the district lobbyist in the absence of direct Board discussion on any legislative matter during the Legislative Session.

Additionally, before scheduling community engagement opportunities as a board with other local government elected officials, the Board of Education determined its Legislative Platform document should be finalized.

Attachments: Jeffco Legislative Platform 2014.pdf (61 KB), State BOE Draft Legislative Platform 2015.pdf (585 KB)

Our Comments: The school finance goals listed generally sound good, but to a large degree can be summed up as, “Give us more money.  Let us decide where to spend it.  Do not require us to do anything with it we do not like, especially when it comes to hiring and paying teachers.”

When it comes to charter schools, they want the state’s portion of funding to go to the District first, and to keep local school districts as the primary chartering agency.  No mention is made of the hot button issues of PARCC, Common Core, CMAS testing, or the testing regime in general.  It will be interesting to see what the discussion brings up.

Agenda Item 2.03:  2015/16 Budget Development Update and Board Budget Objectives and Priorities
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Lorri Dugan, director of budget
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the budget development process, timeline and objectives as well as information, as requested, on polling. Staff is requesting Board direction and input regarding next steps for moving forward with community engagement, approval of the budget objectives, and any specific Board budget priorities that can be incorporated into early 2015/2016 budget projections to be presented in December.
BACKGROUND: At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/16 budget development process. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline. A component of that process was gathering community input on budgetary priorities. Staff engaged the services of Citizen Budget to develop the community engagement tool. Discussion of the community engagement tool was scheduled for the October 16, 2014, as per the approved timeline. Because discussion was moved from the October 16, 2014, Board of Education meeting and in preparation for input and revisions at the November 6, 2014, Board meeting, an overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board on October 16 and draft questions were provided on October 24.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: Budget Objectives pg 25.pdf (69 KB), 2015-16 Budget Development Timeline.pdf (507 KB), Budget questions.pdf (131 KB)

Our Comments: Here is where we can see some of the deconstruction that WNW is planning on for next year.  The Budget Objectives and Timeline documents are worth a quick look, but it is the proposed Budget questions document that needs to be gone over with a microscope.  The first two questions are not too alarming.  The third is a bit confusing.  The fourth is rigged question.

The fifth is where, if you have an interest in early childhood education, every alarm bell in your head ought to be going off at maximum volume.  In this question, the assault on the Free, Full Day Kindergarten (FFDK) program is renewed with additional misleading statements generated by the ‘minority’ of SPAC.

In this question, WNW is laying out its justification for cutting off the best chance the poorest students have of getting a good education.  We believe their motive, as we posted on September 13th, is to free up building space for charter school use.

This is a direct follow-up to Newkirk’s threat in June, to disband the entire FFDK program.

In our opinion, this is a travesty and an direct assault on the most vulnerable of our children.  It is unconscionable.

Questions #6 and #7 are “loaded” in a manner similar to question four, with manipulative words and phrasing trying to push the recipient in a particular direction.

Question #8 makes us wonder if Warren Tech existence has now become a target for WNW.  Why would this be the case?  Perhaps because Jeffco high schools often use classes at Warren Tech for students with an interest in STEM.  If Warren Tech is not there anymore, then a wider opening for a STEM charter school?  The question really is absurd on the face of it.  The cost of moving building trades education out of Warren and to the individual high schools would be huge.  It would require new facilities and additional teachers.  It would also potentially eliminate a number of classes where no one high school would have enough students for a class, but together, via Warren Tech, they do.

All in all, we give this “draft” document an “F” for “fake” and “failing”.

Agenda Item 2.04:  Choice Survey Findings
PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, Dr. Heather MacGillivary, director, Assessment and Research, Mike Freeman, achievement director
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive the results of the School Enrollment and Choice Research conducted late Summer and Fall of 2014.
BACKGROUND: The Choice Steering Committee met through Winter/Spring 2014 to advise the Board of Education. As part of their work, a subcommittee formed in May 2014 to design survey and focus group questions for parents.  The purpose of the research was to obtain parent feedback on the enrollment process as well as curricular and extracurricular offerings.  Focus groups occurred over the summer and the parent survey was conducted in September and October.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: PRESENTATION SchoolEnrollment_Choice.pdf (1,441 KB), SchoolChoiceQuestions_20140828.pdf (535 KB)

Our Comments: If WNW were hoping for results that showed overwhelming support for more charter schools…they did not get it.  This will most likely not stop them from saying that there is, but the actual statistics do not bear them out.

There are some odd results.

The Hispanic community makes up 23% of Jeffco’s student population, but accounted for only 3% of the responses.  This would definitely impact other results, such as the one that shows low support for English as a second language (ESL).  One wonders what that result would be if the survey team had made a successful effort to include the Spanish-speaking part of Jeffco.  This also led to a lower participation by parents whose children are eligible for Free-Reduced Lunches (FRL).  Yet somehow, with this huge discrepancy, the survey firm estimates a margin of error for low income and minority status responses of +/-3%?

If you are intellectually honest, it will be hard to base any decisions on a survey, such as this one, in which a quarter of total population is not adequately represented.  But will that stop Witt, Newkirk, or Williams?

Agenda Item 2.05:  Board Academic Goals
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its Ends policies to establish academic goals for the superintendent and district.
BACKGROUND: The Board’s Ends policies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 include measurable targets for district performance established in December 2013.

Attachments: NAEP and State Test Predictions 2015.pdf (187 KB), DATA Colorado ACT Trends 2014 bag.pdf (101 KB), DATA PISummaryDistrict bag.pdf (23 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary.pdf bag.pdf (45 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Ethnicity) bag.pdf (224 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Instructional Group) bag.pdf (310 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Gender) bag.pdf (91 KB)

Our comments: It is a good thing for the health of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams that they do not suffer from the need to be logically, ethically, or philosophically consistent.  Because if they did, then this agenda item would cause them enormous problems.

On the one hand, they are basing their entire justification for de-constructing Jeffco on the idea that Jeffco is not doing well.  How do they know?  Because of the test results!  The same test results that Williams has pilloried every chance she gets, with tacit support from Witt, Newkirk, and now McMinimee.

So they justify destroying Jeffco using the test scores of tests they say cannot be trusted!

They also neatly ignore the fact that the District from which they draw their inspiration and top personnel, DougCo, has consistently done worse in the tests and rankings than Jeffco.  But then they blast Jeffco for not doing as well as Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton, but do not want to find out why those three districts are performing better.

It’s sort of like deciding your football team is terrible because it’s winning record is not the best.  Then you go about stealing the offensive and defensive schemes, players, and coaches from teams with worse records than yours, while ignoring the teams that have better.

It’s enough to make you say, “Huh”?

If it were the Broncos, we could just shake our head and mutter about the owners.

But when it’s our children…?

Go to the Board Meeting, Jeffco!

Let them know that there will be witnesses to everything they do!



11/16 Sunday Post: Nov 6 BOE Meeting (part 3) – Railroading, WNW-style

MLK Quote Nothing In the worldTHE CHARTERS

Once Public Comment ended it was time for the charter discussion and vote.  

First up Alexandria School of Innovation (ASI).

The district representative pointed out that the review teams recommended denial of the charter for deficiencies and that perhaps they could come back in a year after working with the state charter organization on those deficiencies.  (Interesting that the WNW supporters all wanted approval of this charter despite its deficiencies, including financial ones.)

For once we do know that Newkirk is listening to all public comment as he states that he has some of the same concerns as expressed by two of the speaker opposing ASI during public comment.  And he also goes down the path we have reported, about ASI’s lack of connection to Jeffco.

Witt’s turn also deserves a bit of kudos.  Witt asks the applicants about the science labs, their equipment and funding, but the founder veers off into a speech on why the school doesn’t want to wait.  Witt responds asking her to answer the question he asked.  Later Witt would also confront the question of Jeffco recruitment.  Although he asked for hard numbers on Jeffco letters of intent, that part of the question goes unanswered.

Next up Dahlkemper asks the hard questions.  Speaking to the litany of deficiencies of the charter she asks about the charter’s special needs section, a section that says services will be purchased through the District (an option not offered by the District).  Fellman also points out the charter uses percentages of special needs students below district averages.

Dahlkemper pulls no punches by asking for details surrounding the consultant’s public comments on issues with Ms. Brannberg’s previous school, especially the ‘2nd level death spiral’.  Ms. Brannberg refused to comment on the question in public (saying she would address “in executive session“), although she said she “thought” that was a lot of lies.

Williams it seems attempts to rescue ASI, by addressing the rumors surrounding ASI Opening up a line of questioning clearly meant to allow ASI to defend them unchallenged.

  1. That board members may be employees.  Although Ms. Brannberg says that is not true, later in the meeting Ms. Dahlkemper will counter this with facts (whereas Williams seemed to be trying to give ASI a platform to deny everything without challenge) .
  2. School leaders have already been determined.  Ms. Brannberg herself denies that, saying they have not hired anyone.  (Interesting denial since her e-mails about ASI are all signed saying Judy Brannberg, Founder and Proposed School Leader.  True they haven’t hired anyone, but it sure sounds like the leader has been chosen.)

Fellman continues by discussing the lack of JEFFCO parent buy-in and by pointing out that the high schools in the proposed area have many STEM opportunities (something she points out Jeffco possibly needs to promote the choices out there).  And charters are supposed to fill a void.

DAHLKEMPER RETURNS to Williams questions.  Dahlkemper reads the district cabinet’s analysis of the charter. Under Governance: The Class A (self-perpetuating) board members are allowed to work for and be paid by the school. (Perhaps Williams should read the documents she is given.  AFTER she takes time to actually read the APUSH textbooks that include every historical figure her press release claimed wasn’t in the curriculum, of course.)   To her credit, Ms. Brannberg scrambling to save ASI offers to remove that from the charter.  The same item 5 minutes earlier she said didn’t exist.

Dahlkemper continues to champion our schools.  She points to the STEM groundwork existing in our schools and champions building those up, then address the areas without STEM.  Armed with research, Fellman read a letter from Dakota Ridge and Dahlkemper from Chatfield about the existing options in the area and how we might expand those.

Of course as the charter loses ground Mr. Miller interrupts.  He points out that denial shouldn’t be on whether it is a unique program, but on support.  (Personally, that statute makes no sense to me.  Isn’t the primary argument FOR charters is that they fill a gap?  What is the purpose of the charter if it is a duplicate of the school a mile away?  Sorry, I’m trying to apply logic to this situation.)

Witt asks for a motion.  Newkirk moves that the charter be denied (asking them to reapply when deficiencies are addressed).  And we have it – a UNANIMOUS VOTE FOR DENIAL.  Yes, you read correctly.  A RARE 5-0 VOTE.

Next up Golden View Classical Academy (GVCA).  

The Jeffco review committee recommended the charter for conditional approval.  The conditions would include: balanced budget, facility cost, meeting enrollment goals, and to clarify the long list of requested waivers.

Dahlkemper wrestles with the litany of requested waivers.  Waivers that include: workplace violence, anti-discrimination, bully prevention, student rights, staff selling to students … and MORE.  The district rep admits he has NEVER seen so many waivers.  And in fact has NEVER seen anyone ask for some of these policies to be waived!  Even the state official that Jeffco consulted on this issue had NEVER seen this many waivers.

Dahlkemper asked the school leaders to come forward and discuss these waivers.  GVCA leaders explain that in part they take issue with the ‘chain of command’ in the district policies.  In fact they state their issue with anti-discrimination is the ‘chain of command’ for handling a complaint.  In part the the district rep states perhaps GVCA misunderstood the chain, since they would be included in that chain up until certain levels. JeffCo School Board Watch finds this waiver concerning, since the GVCA is being advised by Hillsdale College, which, among other things has banned LGBT student organizations.  The GVCA representative was unwilling to answer questions on his stance regarding homosexuality.

Dahlkemper also hammered home Hillsdale College’s The Barney Initiative through which they would ‘advise’ GVCA states in their educational philosophy,

The College considers itself a trustee of modern man’s intellectual and spiritual inheritance from the Judeo-Christian faith.”

At this point, Witt desperately tries close the curtain Dahlkemper opened by deliberately confusing  a liberal arts education to a liberal political viewpoint.

Newkirk points out the location for GVCA might be in a high growth area.  This may be true.  Highway 93 north of Golden and Sol Terra on the south side of Green Mountain are seeing high rates of new homes.  Both are areas in which Jeffco indeed needs to address future capacity concerns.

But GVCA will not be the answer.  First, they refused to state where they plan on building their school, other than it would be in ‘south Golden’.  Secondly, since GVCA will enroll students through a lottery system there is no guarantee students in either area will even be admitted to the school.  And that is assuming that the parents in those areas even want their children to attend such a school.  Additionally, GVCA will only reach 728 students after 7 years, if they reach their projection.  Addenbrook Classical Academy, a JeffCo Charter School in Lakewood had only 56 students last year.  GVCA will not even remotely meet the needs of the thousands of new residents moving into the area.

When Fellman piggybacks on this statement pointing out no Judeo is even covered and the religious tones create red flags. After assurances from GVCA that the school will not have religious ties Newkirk moves that the charter is conditionally approved and Williams seconds.

Dahlkemper and Fellman, rightfully concerned about the long list of waivers, valiantly fought that the waivers be addressed before the vote.  In the past when Jeffco has voted for conditional approval the Superintendent would give the final approval that conditions were met.  A policy that is not required, but Witt & Williams insist continue.  However, with the LONG list of waivers it would seem the district would want to protect itself by verifying that ANTI-DISCRIMINATION, BULLYING PREVENTION, and WORKPLACE VIOLENCE policies are met.  Both Dahlkemper and Fellman agreed this was their only objection.  However, their pleas for the chance at another 5-0 vote go unheard.

Witt goes so far as to describe the waivers as “A FEW conditions.” ‘What, me worry?’ Ms. Williams “has complete faith” the policies will be put in place.  And with that we have a 3-2 vote for conditional approval.  Following the vote, Ms. Fellman demonstrates a skill Witt does not possess.  She apologizes, for she knows she could approve the charter with a few policy adjustments.


Now for what a real BOE meeting should look like.  The BOE brought in school leaders from some of the highest achieving and improving schools for 3rd grade reading.  Witt points out at a later meeting they will be looking at the struggles.

Dennison, Elk Creek and Lawrence Elementary schools presented.  Interestingly, none of the schools used the same program.  So what did their success boil down to?  Three things were reiterated by these principals.

  1. A systemic approach across grades, with cross grade communication.
  2. Hiring AND retaining great teachers.
  3. Fast response and continuous intervention (meaning continually looking at who does/does not need intervention).

In the case of Lawrence, a high Free-Reduced Lunch (FRL) school, took additional steps.  Rather than pulling out the struggling student for assemblies and intervention, they focused on ensuring a student had a longer, focused instruction time.  They also worked on home connections, purchasing cheap black and white books that could go home every night without worries about lost books.  This gave struggling families constant access to level appropriate texts. They also created family nights, recognizing not just high achieving students, but those with the greatest improvement or that had met their goals.  They hosted literacy night.  And they spoke again about the importance of hiring well.

Elk Creek drew parallels between small class size (20 students per class) and success. One principal drew parallels between full day kindergarten (which WNW disparages as unproven) and successful reading.

Unfortunately for Ms. Williams, there were no talking points for this part of the meeting.  Rather than asking about success in reading at the elementary school level, she questioned these ELEMENTARY principals about texts available to Special Needs students IN HIGH SCHOOL.  The panel leader attempted to rescue the conversation, and Ms. Williams by stating these questions are better suited for the upcoming discussion on the struggling reader.

Community Budget Survey

This is a future watch item for our readers.  The survey company being hired has NEVER administered surveys for education entities.  It is offering Jeffco a huge discount because it wants to get a start in that area.  Witt was unhappy with the proposed questions.  His solution? Each board member submit possible questions and then the board rank the questions to determine which would be used.

Sounds a lot like Williams’s original scheme for seat the review committee.  Everyone can submit a candidate, but only 6 seated.  HMMMM.  Whose questions will make it on the survey?  Nothing like waiting until the public has mostly left the room to sneak in a way to squash the minority voice.

BTW, Williams spent a lot of time arguing for spending extra money to engage the community and not just the parents.  Is this commendable or is this because her priorities do not match those of parents of students?


Here was the last chance.  The last chance for WNW to listen to the community.  The last chance to stop the insane train to the curriculum review committee, censorship, and opening the door for political indoctrination.  The last chance to quietly get themselves out of the hole they dug….

Did you really think they would?  Of course not!  But let us give a round of applause to Dahlkemper and Fellman.  They did not give in.  They stood their ground and fought the good fight.

When Newkirk took issue with the public awareness of the existing committees, they offered to work on awareness.  Not a board takeover of the committees. But at the end the committee changes were approved 3-2. And to add to the craziness when Dahlkemper asked what was the committee’s mission, Witt said no curriculum at this time (Is he waiting for when we are no longer paying attention?  We know Ms. Williams wants to review both APUSH and Elementary Health Education.)

But that did not stop the insane train.  The remaining committees needed to be voted on.  Witt lumped all committees together for the vote.  Meaning to approve the remaining committees Dahlkemper and Fellman must vote this time for the curriculum review committee.  When Dahlkemper verified this and requested that a vote be taken on only the remaining committees.  Witt REJECTS Dahlkemper’s friendly amendment.

After Witt’s motion is seconded, Dahlkemper offers a subordinate motion. Attempting again to vote on all committee EXCEPT the curriculum review.  At this point Witt drives the train insisting on another reading of the motion.  Even at 11:30 at night the remaining audience members understood.  What was so confusing to the board PRESIDENT? So a simple 5-0 vote turns into over 6 minutes of wrangling for a 5-0 vote.

But this is completely in keeping with WNW.  Compromise, to them, is agreeing with them or getting run over.

Maybe it’s time to stop the train?


Help your voice be heard even more!  Join one of the groups fighting to save our School District.  You can find a synopis of them on our page Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda.

Also, Wendy McCord has put together for us a page featuring a comprehensive list of WNW Board Policy Violations.

Stay alert.  Stay informed.  Stay active.  And

Keep Fighting, JeffCo!




11/3 Halloween Tricks, Monday Do List, & Thursday BoE Meeting Prep

20100830193250!The_ScreamHalloween is over and in a very late posting of the agenda, we have found numerous Halloween ‘tricks’ from WNW+M3 for District students and teachers at large with treats only for a favored few.

We review their mainly “Trick” agenda below.

But first, the Monday Do List!

Monday ‘Do’ List:

  1. VOTE!
  2. Get all of your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, strangers on the street to VOTE!
  3. If someone is not registered to vote, let them know they can (and should) register at a Voting Service Center and vote the same day!
  4. If you are not sure where to drop off your ballot, or where you nearest Early Voting or Election Day Voting location is, please check out the Google Map we created to help you find where you need to go!  Jefferson County Voting Locations
  5. Review our new “Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda” page. Pick one group and contact them, asking how you can help.
  6. After you are done with items 1-5 above, review the Meeting Prep below and make plans to attend this Board meeting.
  7. Sign up to speak at the meeting!  We will post the link to sign up as soon as it goes live at 10:00 a.m. Monday morning.  The links went live at 10:20 a.m. this morning. Here is the link to speak on an Agenda Item (see our list below for Below are some subjects worth speaking out on that cry out for Public Comment).  Here is the link to speak on non-Agenda Items.  Sign up quick!

    Agenda Items That Need Public Comment:

  • Agenda Item 5.13 – New Chief Legal Counsel/ HR Relations:  Why does Craig Hess have absolutely NO school district experience?  How on earth is he qualified?
  • Agenda Item 6.01 – Alexandria School of Innovation Charter School Application:  Why would the Board approve of a Charter school whose application is so flawed it did not even use the right District name throughout its application?  And will be run by a for-profit company that got tossed out of the other school it created?
  • Agenda Item 6.02 – Golden View Classical Charter School Application:  How many exemptions are too many?  And why do they fear parents so much that they made sure that parents can never take control of the Board?
  • Agenda Item 6.04 – Superintendent Goals:  How about some genuine goals on the order of the ones found here:  10/15 Post – Why Tomorrow’s BOE Meeting Will Probably Be Interesting…
  • Agenda Item 7.01 – Hiring a Canadian company that specializes in Canadian municipal surveys to survey JeffCo on Education Spending?  Huh????
  • Agenda Item 7.02 – Curriculum Review Committee – Why is the Board ignoring the Denver Post, the Dallas Morning News, even the Caspar Star-Tribune and is going ahead with this censorship/indoctrination review committee?

 BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:
When: Thursday November 6, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden
(If you cannot attend, please watch via live video stream at: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/JeffcoBoardRoom)

Key Agenda Items
Agenda Item 1.02:  Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) Discussion
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 1 hour)
PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director, Instructional Data, Educational Research and Design
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive information regarding the results of the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) testing on Science and Social Studies.
BACKGROUND: The new Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) tests in science and social studies show that Jeffco students are exceeding the state averages in both subject areas according to results released by the Colorado Department of Education on October 27, 2014.

The CMAS tests measure student performance in a new way on the more rigorous Colorado Academic Standards and set a baseline for Colorado students.
The new tests measure performance against higher expectations for students and are given online for the first time.

Student performance falls into one of four categories in the CMAS assessment:  1) distinguished command, 2) strong command, 3) moderate command, and 4) limited command instead of the TCAP achievement categories of unsatisfactory, partially proficient, proficient, and advanced.

Attachments: CMAS_The New Baseline.pdf (1,997 KB)

Our Comments: Basically, this is the results of CMAS test.  The big change seems to be in the classification terminology, i.e., no more ‘partially proficient’, but instead ‘moderate command’.  Slides include comparison against state averages (where JeffCo is better in all circumstances) and against other Metro area Districts.  When measured against the rest of the Metro area, JeffCo consistently outperforms DPS, Aurora, Colorado Springs, and Adams 12 schools.  Jeffco also matches up very well with Cherry Creek, Littleton, and Boulder, sometimes a bit being higher, sometimes a bit lower.  When compared to DougCo, JeffCo ranked higher (adding Distinguished and Strong Commands together) on 8th grade science and 7th grade social studies, tying DougCo on 4th grade social studies, and being lower than DougCo only on 5th grade science by only two percentage points.

From these results, if JeffCo should emulate anyone, it’s Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton, not DougCo.

All that being said, we fully expect the spin from WNW+M3 to make it sound as if JeffCo is just below the lowest performing District in rural Alabama.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 5.13: Administrative Appointments
Adm. Employment – 11-14.pdf (13 KB)
Add’l Background – Administrative Appointments.pdf (17 KB)

Our Comments: Here is where WNW+M3 try to slide in their first little surprise.  This item is in the Consent Agenda, where non-controversial items are grouped for rapid approval. Buried in the attachment Adm. Employment – 11-14.pdf (13 KB) you find for Administrative Appointment 6.C Chief Legal Counsel, Employee Relations one Craig Hess, effective last week.

For those who were are the January 16th Board Meeting, you probably remember how Witt, Newkirk, and Williams made a huge stink about how Dr. Stevenson put the hiring of a new Chief Legal Counsel on the Consent Agenda, and then proceeded to excoriate Dr. Stevenson for that temerity.
Some how, we do not think they will treat Mr. McMinimee doing the exact same thing the same way!
By the way, a quick Google search of Mr. Hess yielded his LinkedIn Page here.  No Facebook page currently found.  The one thing we noticed was that he has No Education!

Given WNW’s current hiring pattern, it is apparent that actual experience in the job is not a requirement for being hired.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 6.01:  Alexandria School of Innovation Charter School Application
Type: Action (estimated duration: 30 minutes)
Attachments: Charter Application Review Committee for ASI – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (228 KB), Department Reviews of Rubric for Alexandria rev.pdf (568 KB)

Our Comments: We stand by our original comments:  Approval of this charter application is a disaster waiting to happen.
There are so many things wrong with this application, it is not even funny.  We will try to hit some of the most outrageous, but will assuredly miss some:

  • The proposal was originally written for DougCo, then hastily converted to JeffCo.  This is evident by the repeated references to “DougCo” instead of “JeffCo” in the original application.  It was obvious they had not really reviewed the document prior to initial submission.
  • Their plan assumes they will have 450 students to start!  But only 150 have sent letters of intent, and it is unsure how many of them were for when the school was proposed for DougCo, not JeffCo.
  • Their marketing efforts have been primarily in DougCo and Littleton, not JeffCo!
  • They have no identified location for the school.
  • Their budget counts on ‘soft money’, contrary to state guidelines.
  • While the school is non-profit, the Brannbergs own the for-profit management company that would be ‘hired’ to run the school.
  • Judy Brannberg would run the school despite having NO formal teaching or school administration experience!
  • The Brannbergs have rigged the Board so that the parents CANNOT take control of the school…ever!

The stories that whirl around the Brannbergs are chilling.  Charismatic, hyper-sales people, they sell others on the ideas by promising anything and everything.  One example was at the public presentation they made to the Board.  When asked about Free, Full-day Kindergarten, Judy Brannberg immediately said they would love to offer it.  It took another, more informed member of the Alexandria team, to inform the Board that they could not answer that question, and that Judy did not understand everything that Free, Full-Day Kindergarten actually meant.  And she is supposed to run the school?

With all that, we expect the application to be approved, 3-2.  After all, WNW has shown time and again that they believe that training, experience, and proven competency are not essentials when it comes to educating children.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 6.02:  Golden View Classical Academy Charter School Application
Type: Action (estimated duration: 30 minutes)
Attachments: Charter Application Review Committee for GVCA – 9-9-2014 – Final.pdf (215 KB)
Department Reviews of Rubric for Golden View rev.pdf (588 KB)

Our Comments: While we have definite problems with approving this school, competence in putting together the application is not one of them.  Compared to Alexandria, this is an extremely well edited document.   We do have significant problems with the political/philosophical orientation of this school.

Our first issue is that the structure of the school is such that it will become an extension of Hillsdale College’s Barney Charter School Initiative.  Why?

  • The teachers are to receive initial and continued training at Hillsdale College.
  • The curriculum is prepared by Hillsdale College, and
  • All new members of the Board of Directors are to be selected by the existing Board members, not by the parents.

This means that the school will effectively be under the control of Hillsdale College, not the parents of the students who attend.  Hillsdale College

Our second issue can be found in section “O” of their application, Waivers they are requesting.

on page 14 of the Department  Reviews document.

Some waivers are to be expected.  But they should be around district policies on teachers, pay, Administrative training, etc.  Golden View has those…and then a lot more!
They want to be exempt from restrictions on what material may or may not be in a school library.

  • They want to be exempt from District Policy and State Law that prohibits teachers from selling things to their students without expressed permission of from the JeffCo School Board.
  • They want to be exempt from providing Kindergarten.
  • They want to be exempt from when, how, and what is taught about Human Sexuality.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on unlawful discrimination.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Environmental and Safety programs.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Data Security.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Violence in the Work Place.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Personal Records and Files.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Health Education.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Teaching about Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Teaching about Controversial/Sensitive Issue.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Prevention of Bullying.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Students Rights and Responsibilities.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Student Organizations.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public Gifts/Donations.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public/Parent Concerns and Complaints.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Public Concerns/Complaints about Instructional Resources.
  • They want to be exempt from District policies on Relations with Parent Organizations.

In short, they want all the money from the state, the District, the community, and the parents in the form of tax dollars, but want to be exempt from anything and everything that would hold them accountable to that same state, the District, the community, the parents, and most of all, the students.

In short, the very thing our students objected to, that even the Denver post found going too far, will be handed on a platter to Hillsdale’s Golden View campus.

Agenda Item 6.03:  Student Achievement – Third Grade Reading
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 1 hour)

  1. With the Board of Education’s continued focus on student achievement, time was requested to discuss third grade reading performance toward meeting the Board of Education goal in Ends 1 Student Achievement to increase students’ third grade reading in TCAP from 80% to 85% by August 2015.
  2. Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, and Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Instructional Data in Educational Research and Design, will provide information on successful practices that have resulted in high reading achievement.  School leaders will join Dr. Morgan and Dr. Eaton for the Board of Education discussion.

Our Comments: It will be interesting to see how the Board handles the most likely answers:  Improve early reading abilities by focusing on Kindergarten and getting children ready for school.  Also, highly experienced teachers, well supported by instructional coaches.  Things they have already taken a stance on as opposing.  Or will Dr. Morgan (the third “M”) cobble together something that sounds good but actually has no track-record and is meaningless?

Agenda Item 6.04:  Superintendent Goals

Our Comments: Currently no attachments, although they are promised later today.  What we expect is a slightly cleaned up version of the travesty of goals McMinimee presented three weeks ago, i.e., a promise to ‘show leadership’ with no actual hard goals, times, or measures.  Be prepared for more bad acting from Newkirk.

Halloween Trick Alert!
Agenda Item 7.01: 2015/16 Budget Development Community Engagement Tool
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 20 min.)

  1. At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/16 budget development process. 
  2. A component of that process is gathering community input on budgetary priorities. Staff engaged the services of Citizen Budget, an independent third party specializing in engagement and feedback of budgetary priorities, to develop the community engagement tool.
  3. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline.
  4. Staff provided the Board with draft questions for the tool in the October 24, 2014, Weekly Update in preparation for input and revisions at the November 6, 2014, Board of Education meeting.
  5. Because discussion was moved from the October 16, 2014, Board of Education meeting, an overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board in the October 17, 2014, Weekly Update.
  6. The purpose of this discussion is for the Board of Education to provide final direction and approval of the questions for the community engagement tool as part of the 2015/16 budget development process.

Our Comments: When you do not get the answers you want you have three options.  The most intellectually and morally correct action is to accept the answers and adjust your perception of the world accordingly.  A less moral and ethical response is to ignore the results and do what you want anyway.

We already know that WNW could not find the integrity to do the first, and chose the second last spring.  This year, they plan on taking an even nastier and sneaker third option:  change who is asking the questions until you get the answers you want.

FYI – Citizen Budget is a Canadian company.  Their experience is in Canadian municipal budgets.  They have one U.S. customer:  Mankato, MN, a small town southwest of Minneapolis.

Why The SCREAM is an appropriate image…
Agenda Item 8.01:
 Policy Revision: GP-13 Committee Structure
Type: Action – estimated time: 10:25 p.m. (estimated duration: 2 minutes)

  1. Following Board direction on October 16 and other necessary updates, Board governance process (GP) policy 13, Committee Structure, is brought forward for Board adoption of revisions.

Attachments: GP13 Revisions.pdf (164 KB)

Our Comments: Remember the “Curriculum Review Committee” proposed by Julie Williams?  Remember the protests our students made over the Board wanting to be able to exercise censorship and implement political/ideological indoctrination?  Remember how almost a hundred students, parents, and community members spoke against it?  Remember how Julie Williams said that she did not want to raise “little rebels”, and how Witt called the students “pawns”?  Remember Fox News calling them “punks”?

Well, this is the ‘policy change’ that will put everything our students, you, and our community fought against into action.  This is the creation of the mechanism that gives Julie Williams everything she wanted.

Remember this!

and Keep Fighting, JeffCo!