Mar 6th BOE Meeting – Summary

Golden High School Auditorium

This was a heavily attended Board Meeting.  The auditorium, which seats 460 people was completely full with only a few allowed to stand.  The rest were sent to the Cafeteria where the audio was piped in.  The overwhelming majority of the people attending appear to be skeptical of WNW.  The meeting went on until well after 11:00 p.m.

3.02 Public Comment

  • A parent spoke about on the upcoming budget, on making sure that the board properly honors agreements made by 3A/3B

  • A GT parent who does not want us to forget our gifted and talented learners,

  • A gentleman spoke who does not want the District to provide any more funds to Mountain Phoenix because he thinks it is a bad investment.

  • A woman spoke about having started an organization called Star Spangled Scholars to enrich children’s lives about our forefather’s sacrifices.

  • A woman spoke about the waste, fraud and abuse in regards to WNW’s growing indiscriminate lending to charter schools.

5.01 Progress on Board Goals – Literacy Instruction (Ends 1-2) –

There was also a discussion about literacy intervention. This focus area seemed to be well received by everyone on the board. It was apparent that there is mutual agreement that literacy intervention is a high priority by everyone. What a relief…something everyone can agree upon!

6.01 Superintendent Search Update –

A representative of Ray & Associates was there.  It seems that there are a lot of public concerns that the WNW board members may have already decided upon a candidate, but that they will not share this with the public. Dahlkemper asked all board members to state that the search was for real and that WNW did not already have someone in mind. WNW was hesitant, but all three eventually agreed to make statements declaring that the search was being legitimately pursued.

Newkirk spent a lot of time digesting and questioning the salary and retirement perks that are offered with the position. He seemed hopeful that he could offer less salary because of retirement perks. Ray & Associates informed him that every state offered retirement perks (like PERA), and that he should look at the salary alone for guidance vs. other states and counties salary benchmarks.

6.02 SPAC budget presentation –

The Strategic Planning and Advisory Council (SPAC) presented a majority report and the minority  report. One of the major differences between the two was that the minority SPAC (presented by Mr. Coyne, a businessman) seems to be gravely concerned that the district does not put enough emphasis on data analysis. He feels very strongly that the district does not employ enough staff to support the evaluation of our student testing data.

Mr. Coyne’s recommendation is that the district should hire more data analysts in the administration area. He seems to want more emphasis on testing and day-to-day micromanagement of student progress.

He thinks that data should guide school policy. (This would of course mean that math and literacy would be the school’s main agenda since that is what is primarily tested for – see “Saturday Post – Be Careful What You Test For…”.)

6.03 Expansion of Choice Update –

An interesting discussion. Shannon Fitzgerald, former Director of Choice & Enrollment Services for Denver Public Schools (now a consultant) spoke about the status of the committees work. According to them there is insufficient information about all schools, and she proposed creating a catalog of some sort.

She also thought that the District should evaluate what parts of the district needed more Montessoris, Core Knowledge and STEM school charters.  There was no discussion of how many Jeffco parents wanted more charter schools.

6.05 Loan for Charter School – Mountain Phoenix Community School

(Transparency Jeffco has a video of the discussion and vote here.) Mountain Phoenix asked the Board to increase and extend an existing $19,800 loan due this year to $250,000 over the next five years.  They do not have the cash to finish the school year and have an unpaid $163,000 bill from a construction company that was funded by a $6.3 million bond issue. Based on the evidence that was presented (the school has early reading and math scores that lag many of its neighbors), Dahlkemper and Fehlman argued that the District should not extend the loan.  WNW disagreed and voted to approve the $250,000 loan and time extension, 3-2.

6.06 Support for SB10-191, Educator Effectiveness

(Transparency Jeffco has a video of the discussion and vote here.  Original Resolution here.  An edited version is here. ) Support of this measure and its described procedures were approved all around, but only after WNW agreed to remove unnecessary negative language that was overtly hostile to teachers.

Sidenote:  On the Transparency Jeffco video, a couple of interesting moments popped up.  Newkirk, as usual, moved to approve his resolution.  Then both Newkirk and Witt looked at Williams as if to say, “okay – now second it”.  Williams was staring into space and said nothing, so Witt was forced to second the motion.  Next pay very careful attention to the conversation between Dahlkemper and Witt at the 3:00 minute mark.  Did Witt just admit to WNW getting together to come up with the proposed resolution?  If so, that was very likely a violation of the States’ Sunshine or Open Meeting law!

8.01 Policy Review: GP-05, President’s Role (click to read the policy)

It’s a bit hard to describe what happened here, it’s best seen (Transparency Jeffco has a video of this discussion as well.) It seems that Newkirk and Witt wanted to do some grandstanding here, and in the end, Witt voted down an opportunity to expand the role of the Board President. Perhaps they were advised by their lawyer that expanding the role of the Board President was something highly unusual for a school board and would likely cause alarm bells to go off.  On the other hand, Witt has played this “statesman” role before…only to side with WNW the next time the issues comes up (the interim Superintendent case, for example).  We will wait and watch to see if this comes up again.

Upcoming March 13th, 6:30 p.m. Study Session – 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center

Currently on the agenda:

2.01 – Budget Development – The Board will provide the staff with the budget priorities and direction for the 2014-15 budget.  Here is where we will find out how much WNW is paying attention to the every community interaction they have had; from the online Budget Survey to the Budget Forums.  Will they actually listen to the public, or pursue their own agenda?

2.02 – Legislative Update – Update from the District’s lobbyist on actions in the state legislature.

2.03 – Selection of Community Representatives for the Performance Evaluation Council (the ‘1338 Committee’) –  We know of several very qualified people who have applied to be on the Council.  The Board will now determine who gets on it.  This should get a lot of attention, because it may indicate a lot about how WNW plans on working with the teaching staff.