3.19.2015 – Notes from the March 5 meeting

We’ve already posted about John Newkirk’s surprise motion on the Jefferson Area plan, but would like to quickly cover some of the other topics from the March 5 meeting so you’re fully informed for tonight’s meeting.

There was a 4th quarter budget report and while most of it was typical, it’s worth noting that staff turnover is higher than expected. Also of note: the Two Roads charter school paid off its district loan. Two other charters who were approved for a loan and a loan increase last year, Mountain Phoenix and Collegiate Academy, respectively, are not borrowing currently.

There was also a compensation update—which is a topic on the March 19 agenda too. HR Director Amy Weber told the board that while it’s impossible for the district to make up for years of not having pay raises, they are talking about strategic compensation adjustments to recognize those staff members. Weber also suggested the board commit to some of the district’s proposals that night to help retain staff. (And no, they didn’t, which is why it’s on the agenda again.)

The district’s recommendations include the following:

  • adjusting salary ranges and individual salaries of principals
  • standardizing assistant principal work day calendars at 215 for high schools, 210 for middle schools and 205 for elementary schools
  • adjusting salaries for existing teachers in hard-to-fill positions so that new hires are not making more than existing staff
  • adjusting salaries for existing teachers who have a masters degree but are not being compensated for it. That only affects 75 teachers throughout the district, but those 75 teachers either came to the district or earned a masters degree during the period in which the district has not compensated for it.

One major — and deserved — recommendation is that substitute teachers see a compensation increase. Weber said that substitute teachers saw their pay cut by 10 percent in 2011, and they have remained at those compensation levels. The increase, if approved, would affect 1,700 substitute teachers.

Another major recommendation was that Weber pushed for compensating for master’s degrees. She told the board the district would be unable to hire the talent they need if they refuse to do so.

Staff recommendations for the hiring season include compensation for up to seven years of experience (bundled beyond that), for master’s degrees, pay for designated hard-to-fill positions that the district has consistently struggled to fill because pay is not competitive (i.e., speech pathologists. According to Weber, one speech pathologist who interviewed with Jeffco found that she would receive a $17,000 pay cut by moving from her current position to one in Jeffco. Needless to say, that’s not the kind of offer that attracts top-notch professionals). Weber’s team also recommended compensating teacher librarians and counselors for additional workdays.

Response from WNW was tepid at best. Witt warned that compensation increases need to be viewed as one-time events. Because potential cuts are forecast for net year, he said the district should be careful with their commitments.

Witt, unsurprisingly, is also opposed to master’s degrees that are not in a teacher’s content area. Weber was quick to point out that the district doesn’t intent to comp teachers if they their master’s is unrelated to what they do, but Witt continued to press his point. In fact, he repeated his assertion that teachers shouldn’t be compensated for unrelated master’s degrees that it was hard to tell if he couldn’t hear Weber saying that the district had no plans to do that, or whether (more likely) Witt was trying to throw suspicion on paying any teachers for a master’s degree by insinuating that tons of teachers got random, unrelated master’s degrees just to get a pay raise. As if!

Dan McMinimee jumped in to point out that there should be opportunities for teachers to be compensated for master’s degrees and also pointed out that the district was already into the hiring season, so they need to make themselves attractive to potential hires.

Witt requested more information, hence compensation’s reappearance on the March 19 agenda. The new March 19 presentation includes more information about what the district considers to be related master’s degrees and some other clarifying details.

Public comment included many of the usual cast of characters, both friend and foe. Of note: several people speaking in favor of the Jefferson Area plan (the original one, not Plan B).

The Alameda Plan was approved with no surprises. Also, since there’s been some discussion of why a new school isn’t being suggested to deal with overcrowding at Stein: at the February meeting, Terry Elliot explained that Jeffco Schools doesn’t own any land in the Alameda articulation area. Building a new school would require them to buy land and then pay to construct a school.

In northwest Arvada, both the Leyden Rock and Candelas developments have donated a parcel of land that is set aside for a future school. That’s been the policy for most Jeffco communities since about the 1970s (earlier in some places) and those land donations are what produced many of our amazing Jeffco neighborhood schools today.

It’s hard to see how the district could swing both a land purchase and construction costs give the current budget realities and the likelihood (or not) that voters would approve a bond for both. Remember, funds to expand Stein were part of 2008 bond proposal–which was voted down. A renovation is planned, and Board Docs mentions this:  “Conversations with facilities, district leadership, and community members will be scheduled for the Fall of 2015 to discuss the development of a new elementary school to serve the central Lakewood area.”

And now, a few notes on the March 19 agenda. Note that the board intends to vote on the remaining aspects of the Jefferson Area plan. The Wheat Ridge Alliance has withdrawn its support for Plan B, and from the news we’ve heard coming out of this week’s community meetings, the vast majority of parents aren’t interested either. We’ve seen reports that Newkirk himself said he wouldn’t vote for his motion, but we haven’t heard that he’s pledging to vote for the district staff’s recommendations either.

There’s also an update on employee negotiations at the end of the meeting that will be well worth watching.

The full agenda is on Board Docs, here: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public

And the meeting will be streamed. Access to the link should be here: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

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

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

Here were the first motions:

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

Both motions passed unanimously.

And then, Newkirk’s third motion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a reminder, the proposed plan worked like this:

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

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

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

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

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

Keep watching, keep fighting JeffCo!


 

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!


 

 

A Matter of Leadership Style: The Jeffco Conflict

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In the December 2013 issue of WIRED magazine, Paul Farmer, the founding director of Partners in Health, an international nonprofit organization that delivers health services to the rural and urban poor throughout the world, talks about the importance of the “human element” in designing global health systems.

In order to not waste money, time, and energy, one needs to address the important questions to those who are directly involved, he explains. Ask, “What do you need? What obstacles are in the way for achieving that need?“ Then his job is to work directly with these same people to help them design and plan to meet their goals and to help them obtain the resources they will need for that accomplishment.

What he does not do is come in and say is, “I think you need this and this is how we are going to do it.” Why? Because he is not the one who is being directly affected. He does not know the issues first hand. What he is good at though is asking the right questions and helping the group look at what resources they have, what they need, and supporting them in developing workable, realistic solutions. What resources they can’t get themselves, he gets for them.

The kind of leadership Paul Farmer provides is what many had hoped for from Jeffco School Board members John Newkirk, Julie Williams, and Ken Witt. Their campaign pamphlets and websites implied that was the kind of leadership they were bringing to Jeffco Schools. However, that intent was almost immediately called into question with the hiring of a school board lawyer without the knowledge of the minority board members.

When the results of a community budget survey on school needs were ignored by the board majority in favor of WNW’s own set of priorities, an additional red flag was raised. When the negotiation process between the BOE and the teachers’ union yielded a mediator’s report that the board majority dismissed, there was more concern. The AP History content issue, not on any goal list, pushed community members even further to question the style of leadership provided by WNW.

The conflict in Jefferson County Schools is not about teacher pay. It is not even about the AP history. It is about leadership that believes that it has the answers without needing to ask the questions. That approach strips staff, students, and other community members of true engagement in the process of meeting the goals of the district.

Board members are not elected to be rulers of a kingdom. Board members serve as one part of a greater school district community that includes its employees, students, parents, and other community members. That is why both Jeffco employee associations worked with former Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, the BOE, and community members to navigate the financial crisis in a manner to lose as little staff as possible when the district was in financial difficulties.

The collaborative answer was for the staff to take both a pay cut and a pay freeze. This is an example of the kind of leadership that considers the “human element” Farmer discusses.   Newkirk, Williams, and Witt need to take a look at the leadership style of Paul Farmer and compare it to their own.

Then they should ask themselves the question, “How can I work effectively and in partnership with the Jefferson County school community so that we can reach our common goals for the school district without this turmoil? What do these groups need and how can we help them?” Board majority members can then bring to the table each member’s background and expertise, and like Paul Farmer, work as a facilitator of solutions.

To do otherwise is to call into question the intent and motives of the board majority to further their own personal agenda, one that does not seem to serve the greater Jefferson Schools community.

Don’t let WNW forget that the Jeffco community is paying attention. Keep fighting, JeffCo!


 

2.25.15 – BOE Feb. 19 meeting notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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