12/8 Post – A Short Apology & Meeting Prep

sorryAs many of you noticed, the BoardWatch has not been updated for the last two weeks.  

The reasons for this were actually pretty prosaic – vacation, work, and illness.

The primary writers and editors of the Board watch all found ourselves beset with travel, work, and bad winter colds hammering us repeatedly. And the calls of family, paycheck, and sleep overrode our commitment to you.

We apologize for that, but we cannot promise that it won’t happen again in the future.  Unlike some of WNW, ‘we work for a living’, and the time we put into the BoardWatch is squeezed from other parts of our lives.  We try very hard to always have someone covering, but Mr. Murphy is always lurking nearby.

One thing you can always be assured of, however, is that we are committed, and will always do our best to keep you aware and informed.

BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday December 11, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. (Greenwood High School Band plays at 5:00 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

Overall Comments:  Words and pronouncements by can, and often are, twisted or ‘spun’ to either sound momentus when they are trivial or innocuous when they are very significant. But budgeting is where the real priorities are revealed. And this meeting will show us just what direction WNW really means to go.

The original four items in this section include the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, a review of what funding from the State can be expected, the proposal for the next “Community Engagement Survey/Poll” (This will be the third one.  WNW hopes this one will give them the results they want.  If not, will there be a fourth, even more tortured one?), and a “Teacher Compensation Update”.

In other words, the Board will discuss what the district’s current financial status is, what it may look like, how it should find out what the public wants it to spend money on, and how much they have been spending on teachers.

Definitely worth going to if education is important to you.

Key Agenda Items

Agenda Item 2.02:  Community Engagement: Community Diversity Advisory Council (CDAC)
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Members, Community Diversity Advisory Council, Dave Kollar, director, Student Engagement Office
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to learn more about the work of the Jeffco’s Community Diversity Advisory Council and its continuing work with the district.
BACKGROUND: The Community Diversity Advisory Council requested time with the Board of Education to provide an overview and history of its work including the relevance of efforts with data supporting the Council’s work to increase student engagement and achievement.

Attachments: Community Diversity Advisory Council 12-11-14.pdf (4,088 KB)

Our Comments: Here is the word that Witt hates, ‘Diversity’.  The powerpoint attachment holds no real surprises for anyone who has been paying attention to education in the U.S., Colorado, or Jefferson County. More of our students are non-white, more are from lower income backgrounds, more are from other cultures. And our teaching and administrative staff do not reflect the accurately reflect those demographics.  JeffCo has been making headway on this, but as with most Colorado districts, is lagging behind the student population.  

What is most interesting (and concerning) is not what this report reveals, it is the fact that neither McMinimee or Morgan are among presenting staff.

How much importance the District (and the Board) places on a subject is often directly related to who is presenting.  If Jeffco’s Superintendent or Chief Education Officer were among the presenters, then that would be a definite sign that the Board and the District leadership sees this as a major issue, worthy of attention from the highest levels of JeffCo. The fact that neither McMinimee or Morgan are presenting sends an unambiguous message how just how important they think this issue is.

Agenda Item 5.02: Public Comment

If you want to comment on an item on the agenda, click here.

Normally, we would now give a list of items you may want to comment on and questions you may want to ask.  But this time, it is what has changed in signing up for comment itself that is worthy of comment!

Even if you do not want to comment, click on the link and then on the button “Next”.  Then read what WNW is now demanding of those who want to comment!

*1. Online Sign-Up

I understand, acknowledge and agree that in order to present an item to the Board of Education during Public Comment; I must follow these guidelines:

  • when I am called for comment, I shall approach the microphone, introduce myself, state my city of residence and present my comments in a respectful manner;
  • while presenting my comments, I shall follow the Board’s guidelines; and,
  • at all times, I shall refrain from using the names of any students and families that are not my own and from using defamatory or abusive statements.

I further, acknowledge and agree that if I fail to follow these guidelines or if I display disruptive or inappropriate conduct before, during or after presenting my comments, the Board president may:

  • revoke my privilege to address the board;
  • request I leave the meeting; and
  • if I refuse to leave the meeting voluntarily, have me escorted from the property.
୦  I agree to comply with the Jefferson County Board of Education guidelines for public comment.

2. For students under age 18.

My parent/guardian is aware I will be addressing the Board of Education during public comment.

୦  Yes

Just when we begin thinking that WNW could not overreach or be more ham-handed, they make that extra effort that amazes us again.

Apparently, the student protests at last month’s meeting bothered WNW a lot more than they have let on.

It would also be very interesting if this same conditions were applied to the members of the Board.

We invite you to think up your own questions on this agenda item!

Agenda Item 7.01:  Student Achievement: Third Grade Reading
Type: Discussion

  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 Matt Flores, executive director of Curriculum and Instruction, will provide information on challenges and action steps for struggling readers in Jeffco Schools.  School leaders Sherry Carter from Vivian Elementary, Rhonda Hatch-Rivera from Lumberg Elementary, Stacy Bedell from Eiber Elementary, and Achievement Director Karen Quanbeck will join Dr. Morgan and Mr. Flores for the Board of Education discussion.

Our Comments: As of today, there are no attachments.  We, the public, have no idea what is going to be presented, much less have any chance to review it ahead of time, and so offer our own opinions during public comment on this issue.  Are Dr. Morgan and Mr. Flores simply going to ‘wing it’?  We find it hard to believe that they and the school leaders will have done no preparatory work, and will have no formal presentation for the Board.

In our opinion, this is less than forthcoming, and definitely does not represent a ‘transparent process.’  

Agenda Item 8.01:  Comprehensive Annual Financial Report
Type: Discussion

  1. The Board of Education monitors the districtwide condition as outlined in Board executive limitation policies EL-6, Financial Administration and as monitoring for EL-5, Financial Planning/Budgeting.
  2. Kathleen Askelson and Paul Niedermuller, independent auditor from CliftonAllenLarson, LLP, will present information on the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014.
  3. Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) 29-1-606 (1)(b) requires that the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report be delivered to the Board of Education by November 30, 2014.  The Board received a copy prior to November 30, 2014.
  4. Colorado revised Statute 22-32-109 requires the district prepare a comprehensive audited financial report.  The financial report consists of financial information prepared by the district and audited by an independent firm and indicates the financial status of the district at the end of the reporting period.  It also provides a starting point for the annual budget preparation process.
  5. In compliance with Board executive limitation policies EL-6, Financial Administration and  EL-5, Financial Planning/Budgeting, the Board reviews and monitors financial reports.

Attachments: Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Jefferson County School District No.pdf (471 KB), Jeffco – governance letter.pdf (46 KB), Jeffco CAFR 2014.pdf (36,952 KB)

Our Comments: This is full financial report for last school year.  We have not been able to go through all 157 pages in depth at this point.

We invite those of you with accounting experience to review the documents and provide us with your feedback on what you find.

Grinding through these kinds of documents is not the most scintillating reading.  It is merely necessary for a truly functioning democracy.

Please send your comments to jeffcowatch@gmail.com or our new email address jeffcowatch@jeffcoschoolboardwatch.org.

Agenda Item 8.02:  2015/16 Budget Development – Governor’s Proposed Budget Update, Initial Board Direction
Type: Discussion (estimated duration: 1 hour)

  1. The Board of Education requested information and discussion time on the 2015/2016 budget development process.
  2. At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/2016 budget development process.  The presentation included planned changes and improvements to budgetary practices and the discussion of the objectives, budget timelines and specific questions regarding Board information needs.
  3. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline.
  4. The purpose of this discussion will be to provide the Board with information on 2014/2015 enrollment and an update of the Governor’s Proposed Budget.
  5. Staff is requesting input and initial Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the projections.

Attachments: 8.02_Presentation 2015-16 Budget-Gov Proposed Budget.pdf (1,154 KB)

Our Comments: In a document filled with numbers, timelines, percentages, and ‘unassigned reserve balances’, the most important, and frightening thing in the presentation is not a series of numbers.  It is the new words WNW, McMinimee, Morgan, and Miller are now using to describe student enrollment in our schools.  And the first scary word is “Membership.”

Yes.  “Membership.”  It starts on the third slide with an upside down pyramid depicting “2014 Student Count”.  The top and largest segment says “Membership”.  It continues on slide four, where a breakdown of student “Membership” includes (and here is the second frightening new set of words) “District-Managed School Membership” and “Charter School Membership”.

Membership.”  As if being a child of school age is something someone can choose to be…or not to be!  

Membership.’ Something that has to be applied for…and can be taken away.  Something that is optional.  Something that is not for everyone.

We can understand having ‘membership’ in a political party, a religious group, a country club, a business group, and other voluntary associations. Associations that you have to apply to join.  Associations that can choose to reject your application, or turn you out if you displease it.

We reject the use of this word to describe the education of the children of Jefferson County.  

It is another attempt by Witt, Newkirk, Williams, their hangers-on and their ideological string-pullers to try to change the fundamental basis of public education by changing the terms.

Our children do not have membership in their classrooms, their schools, or their district! Jeffco is not an association that can pick and choose its members.  Jeffco is a public school district with the legal, ethical, and moral obligation to educate all children and a charter from the State of Colorado to do just that.  Those children form the Student Body, the Student Population, the young residents and citizens of Jefferson County.  And they should not have to ‘apply’ for “membership” to be educated!

The next scary set of words?  Did you notice that WNW no longer refer to the ‘public school’ or the ‘neighborhood school’.  Instead they have ‘District-Managed’ schools or ‘District Assigned’ schools.  

This is nothing less than an effort to prejudice the public against our public neighborhood schools by trying to assign them pejorative titles.  

Above we said that ‘spinning’ words is done to make something significant sound trivial. This is such a case.  By changing the student body of a public neighborhood school into ‘membership in a District-managed school’, WNW is trying to make it sound as if 90% of the students in Jeffco have made a bad second choice.

We reject that on its face as well.  

If you want to make a comment to the Board on an agenda item, this would be a good one to pick!

Agenda Item 8.03:  2015/16 Budget Development – Community Engagement Tool and Budget Forums
Type: Discussion

  1. Staff presented recommendations for the 2015/2016 budget development process at the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting.
  2. 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.
  3. Staff engaged the services of Open North/Citizen Budget to develop the community engagement tool. An overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board on October 16 and draft questions were provided on October 24 in preparation for discussion at the November 6, 2014, Board meeting.
  4. At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. The Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Open North/Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction.
  5. At the November 20, 2014, Board of Education study session, there was discussion of polling cost estimates and options for the community engagement tool.
  6. Information on a proposed plan for a Community Engagement Survey and a proposed plan for holding Community Board Budget Forums in January is being provided.
  7. Staff is requesting direction and approval of the proposed plans as well as specific input on demographic groups for the survey and table group discussion topics at the budget forums.

Attachments: 2014 11 26 BOE Community Engagement Survey Proposed Plan.pdf (119 KB), 2014 11 26 BOE Community Budget Forums Proposed Plan.pdf (100 KB), 8.03_Presentation Community Engagement Tool and Forums.pdf (78 KB)

Our Comments: Last year, every community survey and forum the District held to find out what priorities Jefferson County wanted as its priorities for district spending was completely ignored by WNW. Why?  Because the results did not fit WNW’s preconceived ideas.  

So in every case, WNW tried to come up with some reason why that survey or that forum was really ‘wrong’.  The latest effort was launched by Julie Williams – a telephone survey of 500 people.

What will 500 people tell them that over 14,000 did not last spring and this fall?  What will WNW do if this ‘poll’ fails to give them the results they want?

How much more taxpayer money will they spend desperately trying to find a fig leaf to hide their agenda behind?

Agenda Item 8.04: Teacher Compensation Update
Type: Information

  1. On September 4, 2014, the Board adopted a compensation plan for teachers for the 2014-2105 school year.
  2. District staff have implemented the adopted plan and met with teachers and administrators to discuss details of the plan that must be resolved prior to the spring hiring season.
  3. Amy Weber, chief human resources officer, will present an update to the Board with current thinking and continued work, in accordance with Board executive limitation policy 4, Staff Compensation.

Attachments: Teacher Compensation 12-11-2014.pdf (552 KB)

Our Comments: The attachment sounds more like a marketing slide deck being presented by a desperate sales person than a truly unbiased, information presentation.  

It starts off by using the same misleading graph that Witt claims to have put together at the last moment back in August.  Then, we have a (probably) spinning and enlarging sign at a diagonal exploding across it trumpeting 118 “Stipends” for $180K and “Retro pay” of $1.5 million.  It includes quotes from the Jim Collins 2001 fad business book “Good to Great” about getting the right people ‘on the bus.’  

Side Note:  Collins touted the actions and culture of 11 companies. Since it was published in 2001, five of the companies have performed only at the market average, two better than market, two worse than market, and three have effectively failed:  Pitney Bowes (½ 2001 market cap), Circuit City (bankrupt & dissolved), and Fannie Mae (delisted by the NYSE and taken over by the government).  Only two are still ‘Great’ in the sense of dramatically outperforming their industry segment:   Nucor and Phillip Morris.  This means the exemplars of Collins management philosophy have less than a 20% success rate over the long-term.

Anyone with an MBA from the first half of the 2000’s would have read this book. Anyone who really took the lessons of that MBA to heart would have checked on how well Collins advice has held up in the last dozen years…and then probably would not have used this quote.

The rest of presentation is something of a bad remake of the DougCo ‘pay for performance’ plan.  If it was as good as WNW+M3 make it out to be, why have so many of our most experienced teachers retired?   And so many of our other, highly experienced teachers gone on to Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton?

Get ready for an attempted slick hard sell.  Think used car sales.

Agenda Item 6.08: Contract Award: Presence Learning
Type: Action, Discussion

  1. In accordance with Board executive limitation, EL-7, Asset Protection, “the superintendent may not contractually obligate the Board to an expenditure greater than $250,000.”
  2. The federal statute Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students must have access to related services that have been deemed necessary in order to help the students benefit from their special education services and from the general education classroom so that they may achieve academic growth.
  3. Speech language services, occupational therapy services and physical therapy services must be provided in order to stay in compliance with current student IEPs in the district.
  4. According to IDEA, compensatory services must be provided if a student has not received the number of service minutes on the IEP.
  5. It is imperative that we hire related service providers for students that have an IEP or a 504 Plan.  Despite continued job postings for SLP, OT and PT service providers since May 2014, Jeffco Schools continues to have positions unfilled.  On-line services can be a stop-gap to ensure that students are receiving the services they require.
  6. Jeffco Schools will continue to search for related service providers to be employees of our district.  On-line services from Presence Learning will fulfill the required services to our students.  Although the shortage of SLPs, OTs and PTs is a state and national issue, Jeffco Schools will actively recruit and hire employees to serve our students.
  7. Request for Proposal (RFP) 23553 for On-line Speech Language and Occupational Therapy Services was issued on October 2, 2014.  The RFP was issued to 94 companies through Rocky Mountain e-Purchasing.  The District received proposals from six companies.  Three companies were selected to interview and demonstrate their system.  Presence Learning was selected for recommendation of award in an estimated annual amount of $267,300.

Attachments: Executive Summary SLP OT – Presence Learning 12-11-14.pdf (126 KB)

Our Comments: This item should normally have been part of the consent agenda.  One of the Board Members had to request that it be moved to the Discussion section.  At this point we do not know who requested it or why.  

Agenda Item 9.01:  Policy Revision: GP-17, Community Engagement
Type: Discussion

The annual work plan for the Board of Education includes the review of two governance process (GP) or executive limitation (EL) board policies monthly.

The Board will review Board governance process policy, GP-17, Community Engagement.

Our Comments: We know that WNW has not been very happy with the ‘engagement’ they have been experiencing from the ‘community’ so far.  Here would be the chance for them to do some actual soul-searching…or not.

WNW’s idea of ‘Community Engagement’ seems be limited to audiences who applaud them, rather than actually listening and considering what people who disagree with them are saying.  They do not understand the problems of hearing only what you want to hear.  Or actually giving serious thought to someone else’s viewpoint.  Far less, do they want to contemplate that they might be wrong.

They have continued their assault on the community’s engagement with the District.  In fact, in a twisted way, this plays to their advantage.  The more WNW can make people feel that the opinions, concerns, and thoughts of public do not count, the more those people will come to distrust the District specifically, and public government in general.

This works for them, because they fundamentally believe that government is inherently inefficient, and ineffective, if not evil.

And so their very actions, by destroying peoples faith in self-government can become the agents to fulfill their own prophecy.

At their core, they are not destroying just our school district.  They are attempting to destroy our very society.

Don’t let them.

Let’s Keep Fighting, JeffCo!





3 thoughts on “12/8 Post – A Short Apology & Meeting Prep

  1. No apologies needed. I think many of us, while definitely still concerned, needed a few weeks to focus on holidays and our families and oh yeah, those jobs that actually pay the bills.

  2. Thank you for all that you do, keep it going!

  3. Students with speech and physical disabilities can not be adequately provided services from an online company! Would you be comfortable if your family member had that type of therapy in the hospital after a stroke?

Comments are closed.