Special Jeffco BOE Meeting – 12.15.2016

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This coming Thursday, Dec. 15, beginning at 5pm, the Board of Education will meet for the last time in 2016 to cover a variety of issues including:

After discussion of these issues, the board will meet in executive session to seek advice of legal counsel on a personnel matter. This portion of the meeting will be closed to the public.

Alameda Articulation Area Update

As of this post, the only information available for preview is an Alameda Area Update video and a 14-slide Alameda Area Update that outlines the capital improvements made to Rose Stein Elementary, an introduction to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Program (PYP) that will be offered at Rose Stein beginning next year, the timeline for community meetings and opening of the school, hiring timelines for staff, and IB training and support resources for staff. There are also a few slides outlining the programs available to Alameda Junior/Senior High students. Hopefully it’s just a typo and isn’t correct that the teacher retention rate was less than 5%?!

The board has also asked for an update on student achievement at Alameda International Jr/Sr High School, and we hope to see a presentation given that provides a detailed analysis using PARCC, MAP and other data to show progress, and a detailed discussion outlining measurable goals moving forward.

CAFR Presentation

Colorado revised Statute 22-32-109 requires the district prepare a comprehensive audited financial report (CAFR). 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.

Each year of the past 33 years, the Government Finance Officers’ Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded Jeffco Schools a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, meaning Jeffco has consistently published an easily readable and efficiently organized comprehensive annual financial report. In other words, when you hear Jeffco isn’t financially transparent, that’s simply wrong.

You can read the CAFR here and the audit report summary letter here. Here are two concerning findings from the audit:

  • The summary letter notes a problem with the accounting practices at Golden View Classical Academy (GVCA), and also notes a “scope change” that the auditors “consider to be significant to the responsibilities of those charged with governance of the group.” Our comment: remember that charter schools have their own boards. The Jeffco School Board can approve and renew charters, but otherwise has no jurisdiction over the charter schools unless they are in violation of their charter.
  • The management letter mentions that the district fell for a financial scam, and authorized a wire transfer of $26,564 to an unnamed party before later learning it was a scam. The auditors advise the district to “strengthen its internal controls surrounding the wire transfer process to verify all request for funds have a valid business purpose.” This is excellent advice we hope is heeded!

The CAFR also includes interesting demographic and economic data from Jeffco:

  • The Jeffco Schools property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value is the LOWEST it’s been in 10 years.
  • The district’s ratio of net debt to assessed value is the LOWEST it’s been in 10 years. (6.51 percent in 2016 compared to 11.33 percent in 2007)
  • Per capita personal income in Jeffco has risen 27 percent in the past 10 years, while the average Jeffco teacher salary has gone up just 8 percent.
  • Enrollment has increased since 2010, yet Jeffco has fewer teachers and other licensed employees AND fewer support services employees, and administration ranks have increased by just 68 people.
  • We note that the CAFR lists 35.54 percent of Jeffco students in the Free/Reduced Lunch Program 10 years ago, but a worrisome 52 percent in the program now. A shout out to programs such as the Arvada Community Food Bank, the Action Center and the Golden Backpack Program for all they’re doing to help Jeffco’s hungry students.

Staffing Considerations

This update ensures board members are aware of the timing considerations for spring staffing and negotiations in light of the 2017/18 budget development cycle. This timeline shows that staff are recommending the board finalize the compensation commitment (and the reductions in the budget necessary to make this commitment) by March so that salaries offered in March for teaching vacancies reflect the new salary structure.

A note to our readers: if you are not attending your school accountability committee (SAC) meetings, you should be. Note that principals will need to confirm staffing decisions for the 2017-18 school year in January. Parents and community members should participate in this process by conveying your staffing priorities to the principal of your schools.

We will let you know as soon as the budget tool, community meetings, and any other opportunities are announced so you can share your thoughts and concerns with board members and the superintendent’s cabinet. Expect to see the budget tool sometime in January.

Charter School Renewal Contracts

Collegiate Academy of Colorado’s Application for Charter Renewal is a whopping 456 pages! We note that the school’s enrollment has decreased from a high in 2001 of 565 to just 397 students in the 2015 school year.

Meanwhile, the Charter Renewal Application for Mountain Phoenix is just 78 pages. That school’s enrollment has grown from 48 students in 2008 to 564 students in the 2015 school year.

In the executive summary, district staff recommend the Board study the renewal applications, with a decision anticipated by February. We will provide additional insight in future posts, before a final decision is made.

Executive Session

Finally, the Board will move into Executive Session at 7:30pm to “discuss a personnel matter involving the superintendent.” At the Dec. 1 regular board meeting, board members noted that Mr. McMinimee’s contract expires June 30, 2017, and that they will need to decide whether to renew it.

Board President Ron Mitchell said they would address that issue in December or January. We assume that is the topic of their executive session. The Board has allotted one hour for executive session and will then reconvene in open session to adjourn the meeting. Expect them to adjourn the meeting from the seminar room where they hold the executive session. However, if board members believe they need to take a vote, they will move back into the fifth floor board room to conduct that business in public before adjourning the meeting.

As always, you can attend the meeting in person at the Education Center (1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27, Golden), or you can stream the meeting live at this link: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310.  You can also watch the archived meeting later at your convenience if one of the many holiday activities scheduled this time of year conflicts with the meeting time.

Jeffco Proud!

3A and 3B – Keeping Jeffco Students Safe

JeffCo School Board Watch supports the Jeffco Schools’ mill and bond ballot initiatives, 3A and 3B. We see these measures as a critical second layer to the work begun last year with the recall.

Now that we have five school board members all working together in the best interest of Jeffco’s 86,000 students, we must ensure Jeffco has the necessary resources to prepare those students with 21st century skills for college and career.

Ballots began arriving this week. Please take time to ensure your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers have the facts about 3A and 3B. Issues 3A and 3B will be at the end of your ballot.

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

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Both 3A and 3B will improve the safety and security of Jeffco students and their learning environments. School safety plays a critical role in student success.

In fact, a recent study found that “significant gains in key measures of a school’s climate, like safety and academic expectations, can be linked to the equivalent of an extra month and a half of math instruction and, in some cases, a 25 percent reduction in teacher turnover.”

Measure 3A will increase school security resources, meaning additional counselors and student support professionals – both inside and outside the classroom, increased school safety education, and more liaisons to Jefferson County and area municipality police, sheriffs deputies, firefighters and 911 dispatch centers.

Measure 3B will upgrade aging Jeffco Schools with state-of-the-art security systems to ensure the district, its schools and its supporting law enforcement agencies can communicate in a timely, efficient manner in case of an emergency.

Jeffco places the highest value on providing safe, secure learning environments for its 86,000 students. On a daily basis, Jeffco Schools’ Security and Emergency Management Department utilizes industry best practices to protect Jeffco’s schools, and Jeffco Schools Executive Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Planning John McDonald is so highly regarded that he is one of the first people called when a major school tragedy occurs in the United States.

We encourage you to watch this video in which McDonald explains how 3A & 3B will will impact school safety in Jeffco by funding new security technology, window safety film that prevents an intruder from coming into a school, and funding new locks on classroom doors.

How does that impact Jeffco students?

A child that feels safe in school is a better educated student. They have higher test scores and better graduation rates. That’s our opportunity to make a difference.

Jeffco’s security experts ensure the district and each individual school all have security and school safety plans, that school staff undergo regular safety procedure training, and that schools are continually working to minimize security issues.

Interacting with nine law enforcement agencies, and 15 jurisdictions in three counties covering more than 800 square miles, Jeffco’s security professionals are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and include patrol officers, emergency dispatchers, threat assessment professionals, emergency planning and critical response services. These are the people who ensure the safety and security of all Jeffco students, staff and visitors each and every day.

You can help get the mill and bond passed. Every donation helps the Yes on 3A and 3B campaign educate more voters. Remember, in the past we’ve seen outside organizations sending mailers with false information to Jeffco voters in the hopes of defeating our efforts. Invest in the campaign so Jeffco voters will invest in Jeffco students.

You can also help by walking door to door or calling voters. Pick up and display a yard sign, and print out a couple of these signs for your car windows.

From those of us at JeffCo School Board Watch – a huge thank you for dedicating some of your time and resources to getting 3A & 3B passed November 8!

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JeffCo Proud!

Leyden Rock Developer Supports 3A/3B: Schools Key to Property Values

We wanted to be sure you saw this letter from Chris Elliott, the developer of the Leyden Rock neighborhood. He notes,

A good quality school district has a significant impact on home values for new and long term ownership.

The key benefit to property owners that don’t have school age children is the property values they enjoy.

Jefferson County home values are significantly higher than surrounding districts because of the excellence of JeffCo Schools.

We support your efforts regarding measures 3A/3B and look for a successful passage of both of them.

We need to spread these messages. More than 70 percent of Jeffco voters do not have children in school, but as this developer points out, excellent schools improve property values. Jeffco Schools 3A and 3B is an investment in the Jeffco community.

And we need your help to share this information. You can help in multiple ways:

Thank you for investing in passing 3A & 3B on November 8. Every donation and effort will make success that much more likely.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

3A & 3B – Why They Matter, What’s At Stake

Ballots will be mailed in two weeks, and they’ll be crowded. Way down near the bottom of your ballot will be the Jeffco Schools mill levy override and bond3A & 3B.

Why 3A & 3B Matter

Issue 3A will add an additional $33 million to Jeffco Schools’ operating budget, enabling Jeffco to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain the best teachers; ensure Jeffco students thrive in 21st-century classrooms that prepare them for college and careers by expanding programs such as STEM, STEAM, Art, Music, and career tech; and, increase safety, security and mental health services.

Issue 3B will enable Jeffco Schools to upgrade safety and security in school buildings; make long-overdue repairs and improvements to 110 schools; renovate or expand 45 schools; build four replacement schools; and build three new schools in high growth areas. Approval of the bond will also ensure Jeffco students have access to updated technology when they’re learning. Remember, the average Jeffco School is 45 years old, and Jeffco has not invested in new space since the 2004 bond.

What’s At Stake

If 3A and 3B don’t pass, Jeffco’s Board of Education will have to make difficult decisions regarding program and personnel cuts. 14446110_1468048463221612_7019571440195103702_nPossibilities, especially in overcrowded areas of the district, include boundary changes, year round or split schedules – where half of the students attend school during the first part of the day and the other half attend school during the latter part of the day. Jeffco also won’t be able to stay competitive with surrounding districts when it comes to hiring and keeping the best teachers, and may have to cut staff, so expect the exodus of great educators to continue. We will also likely see some schools closed and others consolidated. Class sizes will grow, and bus routes will get longer. Most significantly, there will be fewer classroom resources and educational opportunities for Jeffco Students.

Dozens of school districts around our state are asking voters for additional school funding, including six of the seven largest districts in the Metro Area. Already Jeffco is at or near the bottom of those districts when it comes to per pupil funding from the state, per pupil mill levy override dollars and outstanding bonds per pupil. If those other districts pass their measures and Jeffco does not, our district will be solidly at the bottom, and who knows how long we would remain there.

How You Can Help

There are many ways to help ensure Jeffco voters have the information they need to support 3A & 3B:

Board Community Forums

If you have questions, please attend one of the remaining community forums hosted by Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education members. And consider attending the following forums, which are open to the public to learn about ballot issues and candidates.

Donate to Share the Facts

This video explains why so many districts are seeking local education funding. Donate to the Jeffco Schools mill and bond campaign – Yes on 3A & 3B, to ensure Jeffco voters have factual information about why these measures are so important to 86,000 Jeffco students.

Community Support

We are grateful for the recent endorsements of 3A & 3B by the Jeffco League of Women Voters, the Westminster City Council (unanimous) and the Golden City Council (unanimous).

Thank you from all of us here at Jeffco School Board Watch to all of you for anything and everything you can do to help Jeffco pass 3A & 3B November 8.

3A3B

JeffCo Proud!

3A & 3B – How You Can Help (Thank you!!)

Because we have such a far-reaching list of followers, we wanted to dedicate a post to how you can help the Jeffco Schools mill and bond campaignYes on 3A & 3B.

Canvassing

Also known as door-knocking, canvassing is one of the most important and effective ways of reaching voters – especially the 70+% who aren’t associated directly with Jeffco schools. It’s simple – you just walk from home to home in designated neighborhoods talking to people about the importance of 3A & 3B for Jeffco students.

You can sign up to walk in your neighborhood and others throughout Jeffco. It’s even better when you walk with a friend. Training and all materials are provided.

Information Tables

Another great way to help is by volunteering at a school or library information table. Again, all materials are provided. You simply pass out campaign information and answer any basic questions people may have. You don’t have to be an expert – it is always OK to offer to have the campaign chair – Bill Bottoms – or one of the campaign co-chairs – Frank DeAngelis, Angela Geier or Chris Webber – get back to interested voters. To help with a school information table, contact one of these amazing area chairpeople:

Support Jeffco Kids is also arranging information tables at area libraries. You can sign up here to help with that effort.

Easy, Free Publicity

Feeling artistic? Help paint car windows with 3A & 3B messages. Or, help pass out 3A & 3B campaign literature at area events. Contact Melissa at melissa@monoski.com for more information.

Campaign Presentation

Arrange to have someone from the campaign speak at your next Garden Club meeting, HOA meeting, Book Club or other gathering. Contact Melissa at melissa@monoski.com to schedule.

PTA Advocacy

Vital funding to upgrade security and technology, keeping quality teachers in the classroom and ensuring students have the necessary skills for college and the workforce – all benefits of 3A & 3B and all reasons why Jeffco PTA endorsed the two ballot measures. For information on how to get your school to add its name to the growing list of PTAs endorsing the mill and bond, contact Katie Winner at Katie.Winner@nyu.edu.

Yard Signs

Display a yard sign (here’s where you can get one). And, if you are or know the owner of a parcel of land or a business where a “Yes on 3A/3B” banner would be seen by many Jeffco voters, please email Suzanne Adams at spavelka74@yahoo.com.

Meet with Board Members

Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education members are hosting community forums this fall so you can talk with them about current happenings in our school district. They’ll share updates on topics such as Jeffco 2020, budget, and the mill and bond ballot initiatives and you’ll have plenty of time for questions and discussion:

  • 9/28, 6-7pm – Wheat Ridge High School Library
  • 10/10, 6-7pm – Bear Creek High School Library
  • 10/11, 6-7pm – Columbine High School Library
  • 10/17, 6-7pm – Pomona High School Library
  • 10/25, 6-7pm – Evergreen Firehouse

Bottom Line

Our community has accomplished amazing things when we’ve all come together for an important cause. A very sincere thank you from all of us here at Jeffco School Board Watch to all of you for anything and everything you can do to help Jeffco pass the mill and bond November 8.

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JeffCo Proud!