BOE Meeting Thurs 4/3: Agenda Review

The Board has a regular meeting scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the 5th Floor Board Room at the Education Center.

Often, the most important part of a Board meeting is at the end. This seems to be when WNW will try to slide something new through without a lot of public attention. But this meeting may be different. The first item just may be the most important part.

Study Session 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

1.01 Procedural

1.02 Superintendent Search Update: Finalizing Profile – For the Board of Education to receive an update from Bill Newman of Ray & Associates in order to finalize the superintendent profile for solicitation of candidates.  BACKGROUND:In February, the Board contracted with Ray & Associates to manage the search for a new superintendent.  In March, the district provided opportunities for community groups and individuals to meet with representatives from Ray & Associates and complete an online survey to define the characteristics of a Jeffco superintendent.

This is the one that will be the most interesting. Ray & Associates did a lot of listening to the JeffCo public. In some of the public sessions, the R&A person seemed to admit that there was a distinct difference between what the public wants from in a new Superintendent and what the Board (read: WNW) wants. This discussion will probably highlight those differences. Again, WNW is going to show whether the idea of actually listening and taking into account public sentiment is a real priority with them or simply a campaign slogan they have discarded as no longer being needed. Show up and see/hear for yourself!

2. Preliminary

Regular Meeting – 6:30 p.m.

2.00 Preliminary Actions (Call to Order, Welcome, Pledge, Roll Call, Agenda Approval)

All of this should be routine – the one chance for a surprise will come with the Agenda Approval. WNW has a habit of sneaking new items on at the last moment.    

3.0 Honors, Recognition & School Reports (2013 Volunteer Recognition & Blue Ribbon School, Governor’s Distinguished Improvement and John Irwin Schools of Excellence Awards)

4.0 County Student Council Presentation

5.0 Public Agenda Part One

5.01 Correspondence-April 3, 2014 (click here to see the list)

5.02 Public Comment (Agenda Related) Click here to sign up to comment on an agenda itemItems someone should speak out on include:

7.02 Board Direction on the 2014/2015 Budget – Hopefully one of you will step forward to continue to voice concern and disagreement over the redirection of several million dollars from the Reserve Fund to 13 charter schools. This is done without plans being submitted by the charter schools on what they would do with the money, is breaking a promise made to the public in the 2013 3A/3B levy override, and is not necessarily putting the money where the need is the greatest.

7.03 Choice & Enrollment Steering Committee Initial Recommendations – The material has not yet been posted, so no preliminary review can be done. It is highly unfair to the public that such delays go on, as it limits the publics’ ability to review materials prior to a meeting. This is not supportive of true transparency.

8.03 Cornerstone Academy Update: Again, we have no material prior to the presentation at the meeting. This makes commenting on the issue very difficult, especially since the public comment period is prior to the issue! At the very least, particular attention needs to be made as to the location of the proposed school. Cornerstone says they want to serve South Lakewood – that means the location should be in South Lakewood and not the northern border of Westminster or in Evergreen!

6.00 Consent Agenda – 20 items including approval of the minutes from four previous meetings, Supplemental Funds Notification (four schools have won grants and the District’s School to Work Program “SWAP” has been award $725k for the 2014-15 school year), several contracts to renew hardware/software support from vendors, plus building & maintenance repair/upgrade contracts.

7.01 Progress on Board Goals: Math Instruction (Ends 1, 2) – click here for the presentation pdf

Presentation requested by the Board on how the District will increase math scores.

7.02 Board Direction on the 2014/2015 Budget – click here for the budget prioritization worksheet pdf

Follow up to last months’ meeting. Here is where the Board will give final direction to the Staff on Budget priorities and allocation direction. This is where WNW will probably vote to redirect the Reserve Fund money.

7.03 Choice & Enrollment Steering Committee Initial Recommendations (GP-13, EL-11)

A copy of the presentation is supposed to be posted on BoardDocs, but as of tonight (3-31), it has not. Hopefully it will be posted prior to the meeting. A big concern is that the committee has focused on what choice to offer without considering what, if any, choices the general JeffCo parent population actually wants.

8.01 Cornerstone Academy Update (EL-13)

This is a schedule update of the status of the Cornerstone efforts to fix their flawed application. Key in this is them coming up with a site in South Lakewood (the area they claim to want to serve), and finding a revenue source other than an expectation of $100k per year in donations.

9.01 Public Comment (Not On Agenda)

Click here to sign up to comment on an agenda itemItems someone should speak out on include:

1)      Why was the public discussion of the 2090 issue delayed until the meeting was in a small space at a restaurant? Why was the public not given a chance to comment on this issue prior to the vote?

2)      Why are meeting minutes taking months to approve? This makes it very difficult for the public to follow what the Board is doing in a timely fashion.

3)      When motions are made to adopt formal resolutions, Mr. Newkirk always seems to have a proposal that Mr. Witt and Ms. Williams seem completely familiar with, whereas the wording often a surprise to Ms. Dalhkemper and Ms. Fellman. Why is that? In the last regular meeting, Mr. Witt said several people had been involved in the creation of these motions, can he please specify who? These are things that in the interest of public transparency should be revealed.

10.01 Board Work Calendar

10.02 Special and Regular Meetings of April 24, May 1 and 5, 2014

11.01 Negotiations with Employee Associations (Executive Session)

12.01 The Board will reconvene at approximately 11:30 p.m. to adjourn the meeting.

Status of Comments

Life got in the way again, and our primary comment editor, jcsbw, has been away for a while.  During that time period, several of you submitted comments directly to our blog site but have not seen them posted.  This is because jcsbw was not able to review and post them.  jcsbw is still away, but hopes to be able to pick up the posting of comments later this week.  Any comments submitted are still in the queue.  No comment has been rejected, and they will be processed as soon as possible.

Running a blog such as ours is very time consuming.  Unfortunately, as John Lennon once noted, “life is what happens while you are making other plans.”  We apologize for the delay and thank you for your patience.

– JeffCo School Board Watch.

Denied Charter On April 3 Meeting Agenda?

clipart0275

In November, the school board voted to deny Cornerstone Academy’s charter application.  Among the reasons for denial:  lack of financial solvency, low enrollment numbers, no plan for serving Special Needs children, and no location site.

One board member said in November that she felt the application was very incomplete and not well thought out, stating the application failed to meet many of the minimum requirements of much of the charter school rubric.

The district’s accountability committee, SPAC (Strategic Planning and Advisory Council) also recommended the board deny Cornerstone’s application.

Following WNW’s swearing in at the end of November, Witt commented that he wanted to revisit Cornerstone’s application to avoid the expense of an appeal process, implying the new board intends to allow Cornerstone to move forward despite its many issues and the application’s failure to meet many standards.

Here is a link to a letter from the Colorado Department of Education declining Cornerstone’s application for a Title V Charter School Start Up Grant of $215,000. http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9D883B7E48FB/$file/Cornerstone%20Academy%20of%20CO%202013-14%20grant%20CCSP.pdf

From November 7, here is a link to Cornerstone’s 6 year budget proposal http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CWSTJ5FEC04/$file/CAC%20Full%20Capacity%206-yr%2010-21-2013.pdf

Here is a link to the rubric for charter school review of Cornerstone referenced above where you can read Cornerstone’s failure to provide goals for assessments, to explain where partnership money will come from, to provide any significant time for staff development, to mention the READ Act, to provide a solvent budget for the first year or provide for Special Ed Services.

Below is a letter from John Peery, who oversaw charter schools in Jeffco and who has recently resigned his position, in which he explains his issues with Cornerstone’s application: http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/9CZ4Q9787A31/$file/EX%20J%202013-memo%20to%20Supt%20CAC%20%202nd%20budget.pdf

We have not yet seen the agenda for the April 3 meeting but prior board discussion indicated Cornerstone would be added to the April 3 agenda.

While there is some justification of the need for a charter like Cornerstone in the south area, a number of questions remain unanswered about this particular charter’s application.  To approve the application of Cornerstone without an answer to these questions could prove to be a burden on our district and another financially irresponsible decision on the part of WNW.

Then there is always the question of our school district’s limited resources.  Any time a new charter school is approved, it drains money from all of our schools, including other charters.

You can read all the documents on Cornerstone Academy here http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public by clicking on meetings, then scrolling to the November 7, 2013 meeting agenda.

UPDATE:  Lisa Cook wrote about what happened regarding Cornerstone Academy and the conditional approval at length here:http://www.examiner.com/article/new-jeffco-charter-school-given-conditional-go-ahead

It boils down to this: they need to meet the conditions, which include the concerns about special education, parental involvement, and especially budget and tie by April 24. If they don’t, the application is denied. If they meet all the conditions except a site acceptable to the district, they’ll be given additional time to pursue a site, which might include delaying their opening date by a year.

The decision was made at the Feb. 6 regular board meeting, and the recorded minutes are available on the Jeffco Schools website. Supporting documents should be available in BoardDocs.

Saturday Post: School Reform is more than Charter Schools…

School Reform has been a pervasive topic for the last thirty-plus years.  Its origins coincide with changes in testing in the late 1970s and the rise of the ‘Conservative Movement’ of the 1980s.  Out of that melange of frustrations, shocks, and quasi-political/religious alliances, ‘School Reform’ became one of the perennial issues which the right has trumpeted.

During this time, the repeated, loud, and outlandish allegations by opponents of the existing public school system has once again proved the validity of the ‘Big Lie’ theory.  By the time Bill Clinton was president, it was a political given that Americas’ public schools were in serious trouble and desperately needed reforming, despite there was no actual scientific and objective evidence of failure in the existing teaching methodology or its continuing evolution.  In fact, the majority of poorly performing schools matched almost perfectly the social-economic status of the local community.  But the right did not want to hear that the solution for poor schools in poor neighborhoods was to help the poor be less poor.

By this time, the right had dropped their original “Back to Basics” drumbeat, in favor of a new three prong solution:  create Charter Schools everywhere (private school vouchers having lost the public relations battle); eliminate public employee unions (especially teacher unions); and mandate standardized tests.

They justified their efforts at remaking American education by promulgating a series of myths, and championing the creation of an education market filled with ideas and approaches that are alternatingly fanciful,  faddish, or down-right fraudulent..

In doing so, this relentless propaganda has driven into obscurity several valid and time-tested alternative education approaches, including the Montessori and the Waldorf methods, as well as evolutionary approaches to traditional education, such as GT (Gifted & Talented) acceleration, Alternative education, and the International Baccalaureate curricula.

This article, “It’s a Mad Tea Party! Questioning Reform Myths, Fads and Gimmicks“, by Jamie McKenzie in 2011 is well worth reading.  In it, he states that “These change strategies are not only simple-minded; they are ill-fated, destructive and wrong.

The ‘Deformers’ (as many are now calling the self-titled school reformers), knowingly or not, are on a path that threatens to dismantle an education system, that while needing help, is basically functioning and improving, replacing it with a free-market, chimeric utopian mythos, that they cannot even agree upon.

This is not simply ‘changing horses mid-stream’, it is closer to ‘shoot the horse you are on in mid-stream, while you await the unicorn you believe is coming behind you, just out of sight.’

Update: WNW vote to withdraw the 2090 Wright St. Appeal

03-20-2013 – 6:20 p.m. – Witt, Newkirk, and Williams just voted to withdraw the appeal of the 2090 South Wright Street decision.

Over the vehement objections of Ms. Dahlkemper and Ms. Fellman, WNW voted to stop the legal process.  WNW stated that in their opinion, it had gone on long enough. Continue reading

Superintendent Search Forum Observational Summary

Note:  We received this from a parent who attended multiple superintendent forums.

Below is an observational summary of some of the Jeffco School Superintendent Search Forums. They are NOT official notes and should not be considered as exactly what Ray and Assoc. will say when they present to the board, but they should be helpful to those not able to attend.

Above all else, PLEASE take the time to fill out the district survey on this topic whether you attended or not AND encourage all of your friends and neighbors with or without children to do the same. Explanation is later. The survey link is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/23VNLYW  The DEADLINE is March 28 @ 5 pm. Since many of us will be on Spring Break, please send and encourage early participation. Continue reading