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!


 

3.3.2015 – BOE meeting prep

Our thanks to Jeffco Exodus, who shared this post about the upcoming BOE meeting agenda with JCSBW.

Upcoming Board Meeting, Thursday March 5th

The BOE meets this Thursday, March 5th.  If you can’t attend in person, please plan to watch it live from home.  There’s a lot on the agenda – here’s the jist:

STUDY/DIALOGUE SESSION

2.02, 2nd Quarter Financial Report – for the period 1 October through 31 December 2014.  There are four attachments for this agenda item:

  1. Summary letter delivering the Second Quarter Financial Report.

  2. Second Quarter Financial Report – this 62-page report provides the details and basis for the information provided in the summary document above.

  3. 13-page PowerPoint presentation of the Report

2.02, Compensation Update – Amy Weber, Chief HR Officer, will present the compensation update.  Slide 6 shows the average Jeffco salaries paid for principals and assistant principals are ALL lower than the mean for every position.  We don’t know if that mean is based on surrounding districts or market data, but Jeffco is noticeably low.  How will this help Jeffco attract and retain the best and brightest??

REGULAR SESSION

5.01, Correspondence – the BOE received 49 letters regarding last month’s staffing issues at Fletcher Miller.  Huge kudos to the community for standing with FM parents – quick action from FM parents and strong support from the broader community prompted a swift, decisive response from the District.  Thank you!

5.02, Public Comment – sign up online here to address the BOE.

6.03, Charter School Contract Modification:  Two Roads Charter School – the school wants to amend their charter contract to add 6th grade to their existing 7-12th grade contract, and to add a full-time elementary program for full-time athletes who are not able to attend classes during the traditional school day (specifically families from a competitive gymnastics program).  Here is their application and here is the board’s resolution to approve from the consent agenda.

6.06, Resignations/Terminations – this past month, the district has received the following resignations:  2 administrators, 9 licensed, 17 classified.

7.01 Jefferson Area Plan Approval & 7.02 Alameda Area Plan Approval – there are no attachments for these agenda items, but this is when the board will vote on whether to approve the Jefferson Area Plan and the separate Alameda Area Plan. Newkirk and Williams expressed excitement about the Jefferson Area plan at the last board meeting, but as we’ve seen before, that won’t stop WNW coming up with a new and different plan at the last minute.

7.03, 2015/2016 Budget Update – the board is expected to give preliminary direction to staff for the budget at this meeting, and then final direction on March 19th.  SPECIAL NOTE:  We strongly recommend that you review this presentation.  Slide 28 notes the results of the online budget survey are still “being compiled.”  We’re concerned that the board is being asked to give preliminary direction to staff for the budget before hearing from the 9,121 people who completed the survey.  Also there are NO SLIDES on the input received from SPAC/SAC, principals, or cabinet members.  We see way too much info on the National and State Economy and no input from key stakeholders.  NOT ok!!

8.01, Academic Goal Update:  Post-secondary & Workforce Readiness (Ends 3) – this 12-slide presentation takes a look at 2013-14 indicator rates as to whether the district will meet the Ends 3 goal that, “Every student will graduate career and workforce and/or post-secondary ready.”

JCEA Contract Negotiations

Support Jeffco Kids wants your help.  Due to timing, teachers cannot be present during at least half of the negotiation windows because they’ll be – wait for it – in the classroom teaching our kiddos.  Let’s make a real effort to show up to support our teachers in their place – and please encourage others to do the same.  Thank you!

Wednesday

March 4

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 1

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 15

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

April 29

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

May 13

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

May 27

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

June 10

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Wednesday

June 24

Noon to 8pm

Board Room

Here is the full schedule of JCEA negotiation sessions.

3.4.2015 – One key update: JCEA says that only the March dates are set. The rest are TBD, as some of the potential dates and times conflict with PARCC testing.

Canceled Wednesday February 25 4-8pm Board Room
Confirmed Planning Session Monday March 2 4-8pm Board Room
Canceled Wednesday March 4 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 9 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday March 14 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 16 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday March 30 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 1 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 6 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday April 11 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 13 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 15 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 20 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday April 27 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday April 29 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 4 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday May 9 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 11 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday May 13 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday May 18 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday May 27 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 1 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 8 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday June 10 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 15 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Saturday June 20 8am-5pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 22 4-8pm Board Room
JCEA Wednesday June 24 Noon to 8pm Board Room
JCEA Monday June 29 4-8pm Board Room

All sessions are being streamed at this link, and archived recordings should also be available there:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Of note: the much-discussed facilities plan for the northwest Arvada and west Lakewood areas is not on the agenda, though Support Jeffco Kids noted that the expected student growth was flagged in the 2nd quarter financial report.

This last note isn’t related to the upcoming BOE meeting, but may be of interest:

Student Protest Leaders Speak Out

Sign up to attend Chalkbeat’s free event – Rising Up: Voices from Colorado’s Emerging Student Protest Movement. The Wednesday, March 4 (6-8 pm) discussion will feature student protest leaders from Boulder, Jeffco and Denver, plus local and state education officials and policy experts.

Jeffco Students for Change will also host a student-led public meeting/panel discussion on Saturday, March 14th at 9 am (location TBD, but it’s looking like it’ll be at Bear Creek HS).  All BOE members and the superintendent have been invited to be part of the panel along with 6 students from JSFC.  They’ll include a public comment section and a Q&A at the end.  Please plan to attend!  You can RSVP and learn more here.

Jeffco Exodus & Excellence

Are you staying in Jeffco? Are you leaving or thinking of leaving? Please share your stories with Jeffco Exodus (or on Facebook) – and, if you haven’t already, join our network to keep Jeffco informed.

A huge thanks again to Jeffco Exodus for their help with this week’s meeting agenda.

We hope to see you at the meeting on Thursday. If you can’t be there in person, we hope you’ll join us virtually instead.

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

 

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
PRESENTING STAFF: None
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.

READING ACHIEVEMENT

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?

BOARD COMMITTEES

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!

 


 

 

11/15 Saturday Post: The Nov 6th BOE Meeting (part 2) – “The Supporting Cast”

Making Someone SmallerThe Nov 6th board meeting showed a clear divide in the supporting cast.

People who tried to comment throughout the show fell into one of three groups. The first, our young heroes from part 1 of our story. Second, parents of current and recently graduated students with researched presentations, champions of our Jeffco schools. And third, the graying constituents with somewhat rambling and repeated talking points, the well-meaning, but misled pawns of WNW.

Our Jeffco champions talking points mostly boiled down to concerns about the proposed astroturf charters. The same concerns the district review teams had of the charters that were before the board for a vote.

The first, Alexandria School of Innovation. As we previously reported there were major concerns surrounding the board structure, rumors of the founders’ previous mismanagement and a charter that forbid board members to question the Executive Director in public (keep in mind the founder has been submitting Yourhub articles and signing e-mails as the proposed school leader).

One champion corroborated these fears and more. He was hired by the founders’ previous STEM school board to remove them from the school for mismanagement, a task he hoped to avoid by repairing the damage. Below is a clip of what he discovered and why the founders were ultimately removed:

Another champion, however, took a different approach. This speaker did the diligent research that ASI had not, by investigating the need for a STEM school in the proposed charter area. The map below, alone, answered the question.

10371391_10204410832528690_6421420222002544377_n

But this champion of public schools went farther, highlighting the incredible programs Jeffco public schools have to offer. Perhaps, the BOE would benefit from hiring her, rather than a high priced PR firm, to show how our schools are succeeding. However, that isn’t the story WNW wants told. They prefer the fictional tale of failing schools, that do not adjust to various learning styles and needs.

Our third key champion, a charter advocate, could not even support Golden View Classical Academy. She questioned the lengthy list of waivers they had requested. Waivers on workplace violence, bullying, discrimination and MORE (In fact, the most the district rep had EVER seen).  Quite frankly, nothing we can write could substitute for the eloquent presentation she prepared. Therefore, we are opting to post her speech:

We are a diverse group of parents who support choice options in Jeffco, including charter schools. But Golden View is a school unlike any other charter in Jeffco in many respects. 

Golden View will partner with both Hillsdale College and Colorado Christian University. The partnership with Hillsdale, a private conservative Christian college is integral to Golden View. 

Hillsdale is the PRIMARY model for the school
It will be responsible for curriculum development and train every teacher annually.

1. These partnerships may violate the Colorado Constitution. Golden View and Hillsdale have a mission to be a “trustee of the Judeo-Christian faith”. There are many faiths in Judaism and Christianity. Which sectarian “faith” is this mission referring to? In a letter to you this week, Congressman Jared Polis also expresses this concern.

[To the board] If parents show evidence of a Christian undertone at Golden View, how will you respond?

2. Will Golden View be a conservative political indoctrination school? Hillsdale is known for its extreme conservative political activism. There are numerous conservative political associations with the founder of this school and our board majority. This school will teach American Exceptionalism and will implement a political education. 

[To the board:] If parents show evidence of political indoctrination in this school, what will you do?

3. The mission of Golden View includes “instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.” What does Golden View consider immoral? Hillsdale has an explicit policy against homosexuality and refused Federal funds so that it does not have to comply with Federal civil rights laws. With the Golden View framework, vision, mission and philosophy pulled straight from Hillsdale, the principal and teachers likely culled and/or trained from their ranks, this raises serious concerns. A position that homosexuality is wrong does not belong as a philosophy of a public school. A school that discriminates is wrong. 

Golden View wants to be exempt from when, how and what is taught about Human Sexuality. They want to be exempt from District policies on unlawful discrimination and equal opportunity in hiring. They want to be exempt from the District Policy preventing discrimination against students based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Why is Golden View asking for these exemptions? 

[To the board:] What will you do if Golden View teaches the morals of a specific faith? What happens if a homosexual child is expelled? When hiring teachers, whom do they want to discriminate against?

4. Golden View wants a self-perpetuating board. In Jeffco charters are parent-run schools. Why do they fear parents? 

5. Golden View supporters first and foremost say that they will replicate high-performing Ridgeview and D’Evelyn. But the application states that Hillsdale is the primary model for this school. Ridgeview and D’Evelyn are not Hillsdale schools. D’Evelyn is not even a classical school. Other Hillsdale schools have made similar claims to obtain their charters. Yet none of them are stellar performers like Ridgeview. This is simply hype and marketing. 

Ridgeview and D’Evelyn have selective student populations that score higher on tests. They have very few poor and special education children. No wonder these schools have high scores. Mr. McMinimee states that new charters should mirror the demographics of the articulation area. Congressman Polis also mentions this concern.

[To the board:] What will you do to ensure Golden View does not enroll a highly selective student population to obtain higher test scores?

We suggest you reject this charter application. The partnership with Hillsdale is very concerning. No wonder the Hillsdale partnership is not in the main talking points for Golden View supporters tonight.

And we would be remiss not to mention two very unique champions of the night.

One, a Chatfield High teacher. A teacher who came merely to give moral support to his students. After watching his students marched from the room he put up one last fight. When Ashlyn’s (remember the wonderful young woman’s story from 2 days ago) name was called this teacher decided to approach the podium with her speech in hand.

Before he could give the speech the mic was pushed away by security and the teacher attempted to return to his seat. However, security would not allow him to remain in the room. Upon his departure we heard a statement we fear we will hear more from our valiant teachers, ‘I don’t know how much longer I will be teaching in Jeffco.’

The other unique champion, was a Westminster councilman. A man brave enough to stand up for what is RIGHT rather than what would benefit him. If you have been following our tale, then perhaps you remember that WNW voted to cede valuable land to the city. Land that Jeffco has possessed for years.

Councilman Baker implored the BOE to fight the THEFT of this land. He spoke of the guise of urban renewal that had been used to abscond the land. (We ask how is this FISCALLY responsible? Not to mention what precedent it might set for other cities to do the same to Jeffco.)

And finally we had the board pawns of our story.  This group consisted in large part of Jeffco voters who no longer had children in the schools.  In fact, far enough removed from those days that their exposure to what goes on inside today’s classrooms is questionable.

The board pawns seemed much less prepared as their speeches often began about the need for choices (with no actual explanation of WHY they were needed) and then veered into statements about reading.  Some veered off into stories about the good old days and that kids should be reading by the third grade (at which point we question their exposure to schools today, since even our Kindergarten classes send home leveled reading books).

One defended GVCA stating that some people WANT to go to Hillsdale College.  (We do not argue with that.  The argument is with religion in PUBLIC schools.)  Another championed charters because they are willing to adjust to a kid’s needs.  (Perhaps this speaker should ask a public school teacher about the practice of differentiation. Or perhaps the speaker could benefit from visiting the myriad of options that exist.)

What was also noteworthy as you watch the video is some of the ‘board pawn’ groups look large in number.  But as you continue to watch it appears the show had difficulty in casting, so the extras are used repeatedly throughout the night.

(Since everyone is supposed to only speak once, does getting up with the same group 4 times constitute a board violation?  Of course, board violations seem to not apply if you are pro-WNW. Although speaking for another student was STRICTLY enforced, Witt and Miller allowed pro-WNW Individuals, signed up as such, to speak as groups when the recycled extras joined them on stage. So which rules are we following at the next meeting Mr. Witt?)

One board pawn speech did at least list off reasons why they want more charters.  The reasons could be a post alone and are indeed good ones: smaller class size,  ability to move ahead, encourage parental support.

(Narrator: All of these are indeed factors that affect student achievement so let’s look at them. Smaller class sizes are why Jeffco passed 3A/3B, however, WNW has stated they are not bound to that promise.  Why are they not willing to give these same advantages to our public schools?

Differentiation does exist within our public schools.  Some schools practice it better than others, but it isn’t unique to charter schools.

Parental support – yes charters usually have more parental support.  Why?  In part because charters siphon the families with the means and time to provide transportation and support.  Look at the FRL percentages on charter for further proof.  That said, I have yet to be in a public school that DISCOURAGED parental support.  I’ve never had a teacher say please don’t help us.  Quite the opposite.  What we do have are schools with a population that is unable to provide that extra support.  Read our post on the National Public Education and Real Reform on how we improve upon this situation.)

Of course the closing speaker perhaps topped the list for performing as a board pawn, while casting our villain in a true light.  As we reach the close of public comment Miller announced a last minute addition to the show.  Someone who said she had technical issues signing up texted him personally and so he was adding her to the list.  

(So what rules are we following now Mr. Witt?  Oh the new rule, if you have the board attorney’s personal mobile number you can be added to public comment. Can you point us to that policy?)

Of course this brought on more audience participation as a member of the audience complained that she had asked to be added at a previous meeting when she had technical difficulties with the system.  And WITT DENIED her request.    What was Witt’s response to the audience member?

“IF YOU ARE HONEST”.  Yes, in the spotlight and on stage Mr. Witt accused a parent of lying about technical difficulties. 

 

Dahlkemper, like the crowd, was appalled and asked him if he had just accused her of lying.  Witt SAID NO.  (Really??!!  REALLY!?!? That sound like my teenager talking to his younger sibling.  I didn’t call him a liar.  I just said he wasn’t honest.)  Of course as parents and teachers the crowd knows that type of double speak.  So when he said no shouts were heard throughout the room of “YES.”  Yes you called her a liar.

There were also shouts of RULES.  But again we see rules are only important when convenient.  When Witt and Miller wish to shut down the opposition, there are rules. Or when they wish to shutdown the students, the rules are STRICTLY enforced. (To see the entire Public Comment section click here: Jefferson County (JeffCo) Board of Education, Regular Meeting, Public Comment, 11/06/2014 )

As we close the scene of public comment Boardwatch is left with a question.  WILL MR. MILLER be providing his mobile number to every member of the district in case we have technical difficulties?

But that is just one question that public comment left me personally wondering.  The bigger question is –

Who does this board serve?

There were truly three main groups at the board meeting.  Who did this board serve?

Was it the students?  Students whose voices Witt refused to hear.  Yes, sometimes adults know what is best for their kids, especially in the younger years.  But kids are not easily fooled.  They know if they have a good and happy teacher.  They know if they have a school that is thriving.  Is there simply an attitude of arrogance within WNW that they believe they always know more than the students?

Was it the parents?  Keep in mind very few parents showed up to speak on behalf of these charters.  Most were against the charters and against the review committee.  Read the board correspondence.  The JEFFCO RECORD setting correspondence from parents.  If anyone wants what is TRULY best for students, it is the parents.

Was it the voters?  70% of voters do not have kids in school.  WNW talk about PARENTS having choice. But they seem to listen the most to the older voters with no children in school.  Voters who have nothing at stake and still view schools as they were 20+ years ago.

It cannot be the community.  Conflict in the school system can affect home values. Poor education can affect the future of businesses.  And the dismantling of neighborhood schools, such as in Dougco or North Los Angeles, dismantles the whole concept of  community.

Who does this board serve?  

Who should it serve?  There is obviously no one answer. But one thing seems to be clear.  WNW is not listening to anyone outside of their own extreme political supporters.  Supporters, that based on the recent public comment and Tea Party event in Evergreen, are an aging group that no longer has real involvement in today’s public schools.

Board members were once viewed as public servants.  Quite frankly, with comments like ‘if you’re honest’ it is difficult to believe that Witt would ever humble himself to the act of being a servant.  If there is any part of the ‘good old days’ we could go back to, maybe this is it.  If WNW could view themselves as servants of the schools/students rather than dictators of an extreme a political and social agenda then students would not be protesting, parents not complaining, teachers not leaving, and our future not darkening.

So we leave this part of the story with a question for Mr. Witt, Mr. Newkirk, and Ms. Williams:

Who does this board serve!?

Because it is not JeffCo.