BOE Meeting Tonight: Need more reasons to show?


Stand-Up-Be-Counted In the last few days, we have had posts that include an open letter to the Board reminding them that they were elected to help all of JeffCo’s children, not just their favorites, a letter from a DougCo teacher, vividly describing for us the havoc a WNW-type Board has wreaked down there, a former Board member who was the forerunner of WNW try to disrupt a Support Jeffco Kids presentation, and now we find out that the Koch brothers Americans for Prosperity political front is trying to rally support for WNW.

Do you need more reasons to come out tonight?

Their actions have shown us not how powerful they are, but how scared they are.  When you attract the attention of two of the wealthiest men in America, you know you are accomplishing something.

So let’s keep the momentum up!  Let’s prove to them that people are more important than money!

Tonight at 5:30 p.m., Bear Creek High School!


Americans for Prosperity Solicits Donations to Support WNW’s Agenda in Jeffco

th (1)

The Koch Brothers, ala Americans for Prosperity, have the following on their site, soliciting money specifically to support WNW’s charter schools agenda in Jefferson County.

They claim results in the classroom in Dougco speak volumes about how great charter schools are when, in fact, overall student achievement has decreased in Dougco since their “reform” board takeover and subsequent increase in the number of charter schools in their district.

Do you want the Koch brothers dictating education policy for your children?  Does this leave any questions in regard to WNW’s agenda and/or who is directing them?

From AFP:

Jefferson County voters said “yes” to change last fall when they elected a reform-minded group to the school board. But lack of funding jeopardizes the chance to implement these changes. Reform is what voters demanded and policymakers should follow through with bold action. That’s where you come in!

Let the Jefferson County school board know that we need members who will fight for us and want to promote funding fairness for charter schools.

No amount of controversy or reactionary rhetoric can prevented parents from seeing that these experiments have been good for the schools and the students in other areas of Colorado, like Douglas County.

Results in the classroom spoke louder to Coloradoans than those yelling anti-reform rhetoric. But you can’t get results on the ground unless you set some goals and start moving forward. That is why we urge you to contact the Jefferson County school board and demand that they promote fair funding for charter schools!

More Reasons to Attend the May 1 Meeting


Late last night we learned from a follower of our blog that Support Jeffco Kids, a pro-Jeffco Schools organization, was asked to present their views on the current Board to the Devinny Elementary PTA. Apparently around 60-75 people showed up, including parents from other nearby elementary schools… and a couple of unexpected guests, both with video cameras.

One video taper our reader did not know, but the other one she did – Laura Boggs, the former JeffCo Board Member.

If you are not familiar with Ms. Boggs, she is a school board member who was such a loose cannon that the previous Board voted twice to censure her for her antics, once for telling the superintendent she would “tear this district apart” and jeopardize a district grant and once for agreeing on the air with a talk radio host that Cindy Stevenson “should be shot”.

The only things she was consistent about was expressing how terrible the District and American education was, twisting the truth and budget numbers to suit her agenda, and acting as though rules applied to everyone else but not to her.  For the full details, you can click here and here.  Many people see WNW as following in Boggs’ footsteps and there have been reports that she has been seen meeting with Witt on more than one occasion.

Last night, Boggs’ was a bit more subdued than she is normally, only interrupting the speaker twice, but perhaps that was because the first time she interrupted another member of the audience interrupted her, pointing out the Q&A was supposed to be at the end of the presentation.  This apparently kept her quiet through most of the rest of the meeting.

Why was she there, is the real question.  She has no children attending Devinny.  She is not a teacher there.  So why did she show up…with a video camera?

She was there for two reasons.  1)  To intimidate and 2) To take the video of Support Jeffco Kids’ presentation so that she and supporters of this board can take the video, twist and distort its contents and lie about what the board’s opposition and SJK is saying.

WNW does its best to shut down, intimidate, and limit opposing views.  For evidence of that, just look at how they handled the different groups speaking for and against the $3.7 million they are giving the charter schools (see the Transparency JeffCo Video example).  In our opinion, this was more of the same.

Why do they do this?  Because they know in the end, the only way they can win is by suppressing those who oppose them.  When the public is presented with both sides of the argument equally, they lose.

So, show up!  Show them that they cannot and will not silence your voice, block your ears, or do their dirty work unseen.

May 1st, Bear Creek High School, 5:30 p.m.  Be there!


P.S.  Boggs is now running against Jane Goff for the State Board of Education seat from Congressional District 7 (Ed Perlmutter’s District).  Boggs is now trying to bring to the entire state the same terrifying nonsense she brought to just JeffCo.

Letter from Douglas County Teacher Raises Alarm Bells for Jeffco


This is a letter from a teacher in Douglas County, let’s call her Debbie, to teachers here in Jefferson County.  Debbie has given her permission to post this.

As you read, see if anything sounds familiar to you.  

After four, going on five years of living and dealing with the current school board in Douglas County School District there is a lot to say about how they have impacted the school district in a negative way. In essence they have changed and made decisions that impact parents, students, teachers, and administrators in a variety of ways. Their decisions, some legal and some not legal have changed the very culture of our schools and the lives of those who attend and work in our schools. It would be impossible to list all of the changes in a short letter, so I will do my best to address the larger issues starting with the district level administration, then the school level administration and teachers, then lastly parents and students.

A little history is necessary in order to fully understand the gravity of the situation occurring in Douglas County Schools. A little over 6 years ago Douglas County was a thriving school district, that served its community members in a positive and inviting culture, that encouraged learning and growth. When the recession finally hit the school district in 2008, the schools and the district as a whole had no choice but to make some cuts.

All employees in the district went on a pay freeze and their insurance (level and quality of care) were adjusted to help the financial burden that the school district had encountered. The district and the then School Board went to work to put together a Bond and Budget issue to help alleviate the financial stress that was occurring. The Superintendent, Jim Christenson, then stepped down and a new school board was voted in.

The individuals that won the school board election ran together and were not only backed by the Douglas County GOP, but received financial backing in hopes that they would take over the school board and they did. Once they were elected the unraveling began. It started with the failure of the Bond and Budget, which they barely supported. Then they went to work on hiring a new Superintendent for the district, which led to the hiring of Dr. Elizabeth Celinas Fagan. Once she was hired the entire culture of the district changed. Not to be dramatic, but a dark cloud moved over Douglas County and never left….I have heard countless people say “well it can’t be that bad,” and I can tell you it is worse and here is the proof.

Once Dr. Fagan took the helm she brought in a CFO by the name of Bonnie Betz, together they almost completely destroyed Tuscon Unified School District financially, all you have to do is look and you will find evidence of the damage they left behind in Arizona. Here these two in conjunction with the GOP backed school district have implemented a series of changes that is continuously impacting the quality of Douglas County Schools.

The first large change the new super and board made was an effort to implement a voucher program “School Choice Scholarship” Program. In an effort to make it sound like a legit program they formed a fake charter school, I call it fake because no one would actually attend the school. Parents and students would enter a lottery and if selected, their student would enroll in the charter school, where the district would then turn around and give that family 3/4 of their students per pupil finding to take to any school in Douglas County to attend, specifically private schools. The parents would be able to use public tax dollars to pay for private schooling for their students.

I know that some people hear this and believe “that is a great deal!” but it is not. First and foremost it is against the Colorado State Constitution but also it is unethical! Not to mention that the money is per pupil funding, so because those students are not actually attending a Douglas County School, Douglas County should not get per pupil funding for those students. Tax payer money is supposed to be used for public schools. Schools where they are accountable to the tax payers for how that money is spent, how those students are performing and what those students are learning.

The ACLU filed an injunction and the students were sent back to their public schools, the money returned. While the ACLU and Plaintiffs won the first battle in court, it went to the next level where the district won, because of the injunction those students are still in public school today, due to the appeals process and it was just announced this week that the Colorado State of Appeals court has agreed to the hear the case. I guess more than anything I question the ethics of a school board suggesting that other schools outside of their district will have more success educating their students than they will. Isn’t it their job to educate all of their students? And shouldn’t they be using their money to make sure that Douglas County Schools have programs that benefit them?

The second issue the current school board and Fagan created was the treatment of teachers and building level admin. This started with the much publicized open negotiations with the Union and the end result of the School Board claiming that the Union would not work with them. This is not a whole truth by any means. The school board and their negotiations team consistently “moved the goal post.” they moved it so much that every time the union would move on an issue the district or the school board would change it again. During negotiations the complete disregard and care for others became completely apparent. Teachers came in droves to the one open negotiations session and watched as their colleagues were berated and insulted by the Districts members of the negotiations team. There were insults and flat out twisting of words throughout the entire session, teachers from across the district left heart broken and undervalued. At the end of the day the teachers lost their Collaborative Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and were forced to sign contracts with the district regardless, if they wanted to keep their jobs. This loss was the beginning of the mass exodus. Teachers began leaving as quickly as they could and for good reason. They no longer had a voice in their careers. Administrator’s voice followed shortly after and I will get to all that more in a little bit.

The next huge hit that teachers took was the introduction of yet another evaluation tool, while I will own that some of that is due to SB 191, most if not all of the issue in Douglas County is around the subjectivity of the new elevation system. There are a total of 6 standards that read like a 3 year law student’s books. The words are ambiguous and the content unclear, no one is quite sure what they are actually looking for in their evaluation tool. The documentation to successfully navigate through this has never been provided, no exemplars, no map to teachers about how to be successful, and the method by which teachers submit their documentation for the evaluation has changed 3 times in 2 years. However the impact of not successfully navigating through their evaluation tool is catastrophic, especially for teachers who are new to the district. Receiving a rating below effective can be grounds for dismissal and non-renewal. While I don’t believe that bad teachers should remain employed I do believe that teachers who are not meeting requirements should know and understand what they are not meeting. I also believe that if a teacher is not meeting expectations the district should have a plans and program to better educate and train the teachers, rather than just throwing them away.

Teachers who have been in the district more than 3 years (right now, but this will change too with SB191) have some support and there is a plan in place (because it is required by law), but to what extent will the district actually support these teachers they feel need more help to be a good or effective teacher? Some teachers with non-probationary status will be “downsized” this year and when the district started this process, this March, the district asked those teachers to sign a separation agreement. This agreement stated that that employee intended to sever its relationship with Douglas County.

Unfortunately, I am sure that many teachers were not aware at the time they were presented this document that they had legal rights that were not shared with them. These teachers have a legal right to be placed in another opening, to continue their employment with Douglas County for one more year regardless of whether or not they are assigned a position and to work as a substitute teacher for a year if they are not assigned a position. They would be paid their salary. Signing this document could potentially prevent them from those possibilities, sadly the district does not seem to care about these employees or their legal rights. All the while the district made the decision to pay its district level admin out for their unused sick and personal leave, some individuals collected upwards of $15,000.00.

In addition to the new evaluation system, the school board made the decision to eliminate the teacher’s sick bank. This piece had been protected for years by the CBA and now that there is no CBA the school board made the decision, with no input from teachers, to get rid of the program and do so without compensation to teachers for the days that they had donated during their employment with Douglas County. The district implemented a short-term disability program for teachers instead. Their reasoning is that the district had not funded the sick bank and it could not sustain itself. I wonder what happened to all the money that should have gone to those sick days? The current short-term disability program pays for teachers who go on leave at 50% and teachers now have the option to pay an additional amount out of their paychecks to receive approximately 75% of their pay. Hundreds of teachers had counted on those sick days, in the bank and the ones they had personally saved up, for maternity leave or if something catastrophic occurred. There is currently a law suit about this exact issue, but with the current board in place it will take years to be resolved.

Pay for Performance was the districts next venture. This program has quite frankly been the most devastating to teachers in Douglas County. The school district essentially forced teachers to join the Pay for Performance program, even after stating that teachers who were on the salary schedule would be grandfathered in. This program divides pay by content and grade level, there is not longer any benefit to continuing education for teachers or years of experience. In a nut shell the pay bands divide teachers into sections by what they teacher and what grade level they teach it to. As Brian Caesare, Director of Human Resources for Douglas County Schools said “the teachers who actually had to work in college are towards the top and it goes down from there.” While some from a business background may wonder what the issue is with this type of a program, those with educational experience and a history of working in a school will know that this is catastrophic to the profession as a whole. Teachers who have been teaching for 10 years are now being paid higher than their band allows and will never receive a raise, or at least one that is substantial enough to encourage them to continue to work hard.

Teachers feel defeated before they even start, “my worth as teacher has been dictated to me and my salary will never grow at the age of 35 I have maxed out.” a direct quote from a teacher in Douglas County. Pay for Performance is also tied directly to the evaluation system in that teacher’s raises are based solely on their evaluation classification and any teachers who receive a rating that would cause them to “go over” their pay band salary cap are given a lump sum to satisfy their salary and increase.

Here in lies another issue, teachers are constantly earning a pension through PERA and when a teacher eventually retires the amount they receive from their pension is based on their 3 highest salary years. The lump sum these teachers receive is not an ongoing sum, so teachers are not able to apply that money to a growing annual income, thus ultimately affecting their retirement. The district has also stated many times that not all teachers can be highly effective, while they have never gone so far as to state a percentage of teachers that “can be highly effective” they have changed teachers rating status. Last year at Trailblazer Elementary the teachers underwent a re-evaluation with a panel set up by the district where each teacher had to go back and prove their “highly effective” status. Many teachers saw their status lowered, because a blind panel that never saw them in the classroom determined that they were not “highly effective,” and yet again there was a mass exodus of teachers and administrators.

Which brings us to the financials of Douglas County schools. This piece has been a huge contention amongst teachers and parents more than any other, because it affects the students more than any other issue. The current school board has toted transparency as their motto, yet they continue to spend and “find” money. The district has focused its budget on supporting and building charter schools. Several have been built, staffed and populated since they took over, while neighborhood schools have struggled to maintain their buildings and internet bandwidth.

The district spent money to pay for and distribute a piece of propaganda that promoted the current school board and the candidates for the open seats on the school board last fall. The district was actually found guilty of violating the Fair Campaigns Act, and yet Fagan remains employed by the district.

In addition, the district has continued to allow their unassigned funds budget to grow to alarmingly high levels. The district also totes a local control approach to funding schools, unfortunately it is just an underfunded local control approach. This underfunded local control has had a huge impact on schools. Classroom size at most schools has gone up, and any reprieve in the class numbers comes directly from Principals huge efforts and cuts in other areas to ensure that class sizes are as low as possible.

One of these efforts has reared its ugly head in the high schools and is called a 6 of 8 class schedule. Most of us would not know what a 5 of 7 or a 6 of 8 class schedule means to a high school, but if you ask in Douglas County most parents and students will tell you and the teachers will scream what it means.

In a 6 of 8 schedule students are able to have, actually encouraged to have “off periods.” Essentially each teacher teaches an extra class with the perception that this will lower class sizes, but in actuality students also have less instructional time and less time in the classroom. Students can and do have up to 90 minutes off at a time during a school day and even longer if it is attached to a lunch period. This schedule not only leaves a ton of time for students to be out doing things, but also adds a ton of work for teachers.

It allows for a school to have fewer teachers, but also increases class load for teachers and means more work with the already precious few moments of planning. For parents the concern should be that their student has multiple hours of the day where they are not in class and they are not supervised. At many schools I have heard stories of students who are even encouraged to leave school grounds because there is no where for them to be and study in the school.

The financial situation continues to deteriorate when looking at the priorities of the school district as a whole. This last year the district spent an upwards of $12,000.00 to bring a speaker, Marc Prensky, a speaker who talked to teachers about how being able to read was no longer important because we have technology that can read to us, as speaker who told an entire room of teachers that they were past-u-cators and and they needed to become future-cators.

The district has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars reformatting their website TWICE, hired on a new Communications Department with salaries in the $100,000.00 range, and they just recently announced that they felt they needed to hire on a community relations firm. The district has thrown thousands of dollars into commercials bragging about how great they are, all the while classroom sizes are enormous, teachers are overworked and underpaid, currently the maximum teacher ratio is 180/1 during a school day and the counselors are well over 300/1. But the district continues to throw money every direction they can but the neighborhood school classroom and teacher.

Which leads us to culture. The culture of Douglas County Schools feels a bit like being in a refugee camp. The teachers of Douglas County have had practically no say in any of the changes that are happening in their school district. The district will tell you that they have opened the door to teachers and would love their input. What they won’t tell you is that when teachers are invited to be a part of the puzzle they are told what it will look like and how it will be. Teachers have signed up in good faith to be a part of the solution and their good work is constantly altered and ignored by high-ups who think they know better. The District will tell you they value teachers, but when teachers have shared their thoughts or unhappiness they have been told to “get on board or get out.” Some teachers who have spoken their minds and shared freely of their unhappiness have been told to leave. Others have learned to keep their head down and look for new work, more have simply waited it out until retirement.

Parents have spoken on behalf of their students and their students’ teachers and been told “point blank” that they don’t know what they are talking about. Parents have spoken relentlessly at board meetings asking for the board to meet in the middle, to understand their needs. Their response is SILENCE! The school board has scolded parents for speaking, for caring about their student’s school experience, for caring about their students’ teachers. School board members have lashed out at community members, at times the school board meetings seem a short distance from becoming something similar to a Jerry Springer Show, the school board members being the guests.

If that is not enough the school board and the district have also stopped supporting or caring about their teachers in a long term sense. They have removed things like longevity pay and severance when they retire. More importantly in the last few years the number of teachers who have had accusations made about them have increased and it is the manner in which the district has chosen to handle these situations that is truly concerning. Teachers who have accusations made against them, no matter how tedious are instantly put on leave, and then after an investigation the district decides whether to bring them back or not. While this seems normal, this is the part that is not. The teacher is rarely given an opportunity to know what even happened or what they were accused of, not even in a general sense. Then if the teacher is found innocent the teacher is simply expected to return to the classroom. No information given, no restitution. In fact, most teachers are encouraged to not come back. I know of at least one who was told he would have to resign anyway, after being found innocent of all charges, and he retired in good standing. Others have become deflated and so hurt that it is difficult to know how to continue, especially when they feel they will never be supported by a district they have dedicated their lives too.

All of this, accompanied by the fact that teachers are incredibly over-worked and over paper-worked, and under-equipped in the classroom, yet the stakes rise more and more every day. Our students demand more and more of our time, mental health needs are at record highs, a need for social instruction continues to sore, and the emphasis on testing and more testing will eventually lead any teacher in Douglas County out the door. At the end of the day it is the cruel and thoughtless behavior of the Douglas County School Board that has led us to this point and the teachers have no voice, no ability to speak for what they need or how they would like to be treated that has damaged the relationship beyond repair. Administrators have done their best to protect those that they can, while maintaining their own employment and supporting our students. There is only so much they can do. Douglas County Schools will continue to loose their best teachers in the years to come if change does not occur and Jefferson County Schools will follow right along if the parents do not act soon and act loudly.

For our School Board, this is not about what is best for all of our children but the game of politics. Getting rid of unions is a political motive not what is in the best interest of the students. I have yet to see a strike or the demand for a raise when the district was in a situation where it could not give teachers a raise. Did the teachers or the unions make any demands? I believe the teachers as well as your superintendent did not take a raise. (Ed Note: This is true plus teachers took a 3% pay decrease, voluntarily, for 2 years. Cindy Stevenson took the same 3% cut and refused any earned bonuses, a decrease in her salary of about 17% total.) That could not be said of the Douglas county Superintendent.

My question is where does the big business of the Daniels Fund get the right to tell us what is best for our kids. They have no business putting their politics here. We are a diverse county and WE decide what is best for our children. You do not take advantage of parents who work two jobs and have very little precious time to put in candidates who are not looking out for the majority but the minority. You lost a home grown superintendent who absolutely loved this district. She taught there, was a principal, area superintendent and finally proved herself to be the best for the county. That is hard to find anywhere. Now you will get a superintendent who will be nothing but a puppet to the current board as they are puppets to the Daniel’s fund. Why else would they be there?

The only way the district will stay on the path of excellent education is if you recall this board and reinstate Cindy or at least find someone who cares for the whole entire district.

An Open Letter to the Board…

Below is a copy of  letter Ms. Prill has sent to all five JeffCo Board Members.


Board Members,

The majority board member’s actions (or lack thereof) to date are shameful and as such lend themselves to a pitiful representation of what our amazing school district is and could be under a truly democratic, open minded and considerate Board.  I continue to give you the benefit of the doubt, thinking perhaps you will finally display respect and courtesy towards your fellow Board members and your constituents. But I am disappointed again and again. You bully those with differing views, you use legal advice and follow meeting rules only when it benefits your personal agenda, you fail at each and every opportunity to share with your public the reasoning behind your [unpopular] actions. The transparency you claim to desire is no where to be found.

I respectfully request answers to the following questions, with specific responses please; your vague answers to date are a waste of both of our time.

1. Why give funding to financially questionable charter schools when they have funding options available to them that neighborhood schools do not?
1a. Why does said funding not have same requirements for use as that given to neighborhood schools? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, as they say.

2. What exactly have you been paying your attorney to do and why are the minority members not privy to that information or party to the redaction process?

3. By cutting the teacher compensation package how are you proposing to maintain and/or recruit quality teachers whose efforts are vital to meeting your goals in academic achievement?
3a. What is your action plan to meet said achievement goals?

4. Why all the secrecy? Even if you do truly have our children, their future, and the future of our school district’s success at heart why not even ATTEMPT to appease your opponents with actual transparency? Your actions are screaming much more loudly than any words you are spouting in YOUR version of “transparency” and only serve to fuel the movement against you.

I implore you to remember who you were elected to serve: your children, MY children, ALL JeffCo children, NOT big business.

Katrina Prill


FYI:  If you want to send an email to the JeffCo Board of Education, their email address is:

Attorney Intimidation?


(Ed Note) I obtained permission from the Jeffco Parent who wrote this to post it to Board Watch.

Can you believe we have just about a month left in this school year? Think how much things have changed in Jeffco since this time last year…

Board Meeting THIS Thursday @ Bear Creek HS

•  Is the Board Attorney Trying to Force Board Members to Do as He Says?
•  Who is REDACTING the Board Attorney’s Invoices?
•  Parents Point Out Problems
•  Board Won’t Respond to Administrators
•  Upcoming meetings

Board Meeting THIS Thursday at Bear Creek High School (9800 W Dartmouth Pl, Lakewood, in the auditorium)  5:30 p.m. Study Session, 6:30 p.m. General Meeting with Public Comment

Study Session begins at 5:30pm; Regular Meeting begins at 6:30pm. You can read a detailed breakdown of the agenda items and associated concerns here. This is the last Regular Board meeting – a meeting where the Board can vote on decisions affecting our kids – before the school year ends. Please try to attend.

Is the Board Attorney Trying to Force Board Members to Do As He Says?

In this video from last week’s Board Study Session, Mr. Newkirk moves to go into Exec Session, then Ms. Fellman shares that the Board attorney has informed them that they face personal liability if they do not heed that attorney’s advice. But the Board majority ignored attorney advice when they rescinded rights to a $1 million property. Watch the first 3 minutes at least.

Who is REDACTING the Board Attorney’s Invoices?

In this video, also from last week’s Board Study Session, Ms. Fellman asks who is redacting the attorney bills – that privilege goes to the client, which is the WHOLE Board. Ms. Dahlkemper asks about the work that’s being done by this attorney – Research for the Board? Reports for the Board? She’s not seen this work, and she is the client. And, Ms. Fellman tries to keep the focus on all kids and reuniting the district. Mr. Witt is dismissive at best… Watch at 4:15-4:45 and 7:11 to the end, if nothing else. You can read more here and here. And here is a full summary of that Board Study Session.

Parents Point Out Problems

Increasingly, parents are questioning the Board’s actions. In this letter, a parent notes, “Real leaders would have been ready for negotiations with questions about PERA and similar costs already discussed so that actual negotiations could take place. Real leaders would not have declined to provide their negotiators with any direction about compensation, despite requests from JCEA. Real leaders would understand that they should stop using the phrase “laser-like focus” in relation to student achievement when their actions make it clear that their laser-like focus is on who pays PERA increases rather than on what budget decisions will help our 85,000 students.”

And in this exchange with the Board, a parent tries again and again to get answers, and is left to conclude, “I fear that you (and therefore Mr. Newkirk and Ms. Williams) have a very distinct subset of children in mind for whose benefit you are acting – and they do not include the children who most need our efforts and attention. That has been made clear in many of the decisions you, Mr. Newkirk and Ms. Williams have made since you took your oaths of office last fall, many of which violate at least one board or district policy.”

Board Won’t Respond to Administrators

And finally, when Jeffco Administrators (principals, etc.) sought direction from the Board, Mr. Newkirk simply replied, “I appreciate the effort you’ve made to consolidate these questions and issues into a single, focused document. I have personally printed your letter and have tacked it to my desk for ongoing reference and guidance as to how we may best meet our goals.”

(Ed Note) If you have not attended one of these meetings, please come.  Don’t leave it to others to take action.  If we are going to spread the word about what is happening to our schools and the affect it’s having on our teachers and therefore our children, YOU must be willing to step up and take action, too.  

May 1st BOE Meeting Agenda (updated)

(Updated 4/30 – added in a link to the Legislative Report in item 7.01)

Yes.  Another meeting.  But come on out anyway! 

Attending a JeffCo Board Meeting is like being at a live taping of a ‘Reality’ TV show.  It’s great fun watching WNW scheme and obfuscate while trying to avoid the issues Dahlkemper and Fellman keep raising…until you remember that this is not some contrived situation created by the networks for entertainment.  This is real Reality, and the stakes are not a bit of notoriety and money, but our children’s education and future.  

So come out for the show…it beats “Hell’s Kitchen” by a mile…and is far more important.

BOE Meeting 2014-05-01
Date and Time:  Thursday, May 1, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.
Where:Bear Creek Highschool (9800 W. Dartmouth Pl., Lakewood, CO in the auditorium)


1. Study/Dialogue Session (5:30 p.m.)

1.02 Budget Development Update
Goals: EL-5, Financial Planning/Budgeting

PURPOSE: For staff to answer any questions with regard to the 2014-2015 budget development process and to provide an update on any legislative actions that may have occurred. New information on legislative action may or may not be available depending on the outcome and timing of the legislative process.

BACKGROUND: There was discussion of the district’s budget at the Board of Education meetings on December 12, January 16, February 27, and March 13. The Board provided staff with direction regarding budget priorities for the development of the 2014/2015 budget at the March 13 and April 3 Board of Education meetings.

The 2014/2015 Proposed Budget is scheduled for the 1st Public Hearing on June 5 and 2nd Public Hearing and Budget Adoption on June 19.

The Board of Education must adopt the 2014/2015 Budget prior to June 30, 2014.

(Currently no downloadable material been provided.)

Our comments:  This one will probably have some more fireworks.  Last Thursday night (April 24th) the Board had a presentation on the still open aspects of the budget.  Below is a summary of the disagreements:

Compensation Allocation ($11,725,100) – Witt stated this was increase not a decrease.  Dahlkemper pointed out it was originally $4 million higher before WNW cut it.

Charter Allocation ($3.7 million, aprox $585 per student based on current enrollment) – This will not show up as an expense, but rather as a reduction in revenue, since the money is passed straight through to the charter schools.

Elementary Math Instruction ($4 million one time, $1.8 million on-going) – Big surprise here.  Witt said he wants a ‘deep dive’ into it because he is not sure “we need it”.  The deep-dive should occur during agenda points 6.01 & 6.02.  There is pressure to increase the reserve fund.  It was originally going to get at least $2 million, until WNW diverted that money to help fund the $3.7 million increase to the Charter schools. Of course, how WNW then intends for the District to meet the enhanced math goals WNW set for it without investing in the new math program is puzzling to say the least.

Planned Reductions – This is the reserve fund.  Currently the forecast is to keep the fund at a flat 10% of existing revenue.  This is NOT conservative and is on the low end of what Moody’s says the District needs to maintain its AA bond rating. The numbers do not count inflation, employee raises, or unexpected cuts in state funding.

End of Study Session (6:30 p.m.)

2. Preliminary:

(Call to order, Welcome, Pledge, Roll Call, Agenda Approval)

3. Honors, Recognition and School Reports:

3.01 Milken Family Foundation: Award to Jose Martinez III, teacher at Bear Creek
3.02 2013-2014 Swimming State Champions:  Evergreen High School champions
3.03 2013-2014 Wrestling State Champions: Aravad West Wrestlers

4. Public Agenda Part One

4.01 Correspondence – May 1, 2014 (click here for the list)
4.02 Public Comment (Agenda Related)

Our comments:  There is a good chance that they will roll the Public Comment on non-Agenda related items into this session.  This is pretty common.

5. Consent Agenda

Our comments:  A lot of charter school contracts are either up for renewal, have contract addenda that have to be agreed to in order to comply with new state laws,  or are looking for expansion of their charter to include additional grades.

6. Ends Discussion

6.01 Progress on Board Goals: Math and Writing Instruction (Ends 1, 2)
Type: Discussion, Information

1. On April 3, the Board of Education postponed the presentation from staff on the progress in meeting Board goals for math instruction to the May 1, 2014 agenda.
2. In December 2013, the Board of Education added goals to its Ends policies. Ends 1 and Ends 2 include goals for math:

  • The percentage of proficient/advanced fourth grade students in math on TCAP will increase from 77% to 80% by August 2015. (Ends 1)
  • Every student will achieve one year’s growth, or more as needed to ‘catch up,’ in each year of school and be ready for the next level. The percentage of ALP students who have growth measures over 50 will increase in math from 60 to 62. (Ends 2)

3. In December 2013, the Board of Education added goals to its Ends policies. Ends 1 and Ends 2 include goals for writing:

  • The percentage of proficient/advanced students in writing on TCAP will increase by August 2014 to:
    • Elementary – 64%
    • Middle level – 66%
    • High school – 59%  (Ends 1)
  • The percentage of ALP students who have growth measures over 50 will increase:
    • In writing from 54 to 56  (Ends 2)

4. Dr. Heather Beck, chief academic officer; Priscilla Straughn, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Sue Chandler, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Matt Flores, director, Educational Research and Design; Achievement Directors Brady Stroup, Karen Quanbeck and Mike Freeman, and Maple Grove Principal Ian Stone will present information on math instruction related to the district’s plan to meet the goals in math.

5. Dr. Heather Beck, chief academic officer; Priscilla Straughn, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Sue Chandler, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Dr. Carol Eaton, executive director of Educational Research and Design; Rhonda Hatch Rivera, school improvement specialist; Catherine Baldwin Johnson, director of ESL/Dual Language; and Dr. Blanche Kapushion, director of Gifted and Talented, will present information on writing instruction related to the district’s plan to meet the goals in writing.

(Click for the Math Presentation and for the Writing Presentation)

Our comments:  The educational process is one that is constantly evolving.  As we learn more about ourselves, how we learn, how different children learn differently, and what levels of understanding and skill are required for future skills, so our methods and materials for teaching math and writing should change as well. 

The Board has set higher goals for the District, which is a very good thing.  Our teachers and support staff should be stretching to always find a newer, better way of reaching our children.  But the Board must also remember that while it sets the goals, it also must provide the resources to achieve those goals!  In Agenda item 7.01, the Board proposes sending resolutions to the state legislature that, in part, rail against unfunded mandates from the Federal and State governments.  They should heed their own advice and not insist on improvements without giving the teachers the materials and resources need to achieve them.

6.02 Contract Award: Math Expressions (EL-7)

Type: Action
Recommended Action: To authorize the director of Purchasing to enter into an agreement with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the purchase of Math Expressions materials and professional development for the approximate total amount of $2,000,000.
Goals: EL-7, Asset Protection

  1. In accordance with Board executive limitation policy 7, Asset Protection, “the superintendent may not contractually obligate the Board to expenditures greater than $250,000.
  2. On Thursday, March 13, 2014, the Board of Education gave direction to include funds in the draft 2014-2015 budget for new math resources and professional development aligning with our Colorado Academic Standards.
  3. Our current math resource, Investigations, does not provide the depth and pacing needed for our new standards.
  4. Math Expressions ©2013 aligns with our Colorado Academic Standards and has a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application.
  5. Math Expressions has gone through the textbook approval process for Jefferson County and is an approved resource.

(Click for the contract and summary)

Our comments:  What happens here is totally dependent on how the Board receives the presentations just before it.  If Witt moves against it, we suspect it will be in large part because he wants to cover the $4 million of increased spending the Board is proposing ($3.7 million to charter schools and $840 thousand to Gifted & Talented, less the deleted $600 thousand for free full-day kindergarten).  Doing so will ease the tightness of the budget while still allowing WNW to pursue their goal of charter school equalization.  For them, it could be a simple choice:  fund a better math curriculum for 87% of K-3 graders while increasing full day kindergarten for the kids who need it the most, or give the money to the 8% that make up charter school kids and the 5% that make up Gifted & Talented.

We will see from WNW’s viewpoint which one needs it more….

6.03 Jeffco Social Media Policies and Procedures (EL-11)

Type: Information

  1. The Board of Education requested a review the district’s existing policy on staff use of the Internet, andsocial media guidelines.
  2. Lynn Setzer, chief communications officer, and Lorie Gillis, chief financial officer, will present an overview of this work to the Board.

Our comments:  This is the briefing that Julie Williams wanted when she over-reacted to some tweets taken out of context, going back and forth between two friends who are volunteers for the schools and District.  Though the tweets were not at Williams or the school district and though they contained no has tags, Williams wanted the two removed from their volunteer positions, and some action that would ban anyone connected to the District from saying anything bad about her or the District.  Is this going to be a proposal for an infringement on free speech?  This review is what Newkirk and Witt managed to talk her down to.  See our March 6th post if you want more background.

7. Discussion Agenda

7.01 Legislative Update (EL-11)
Type: Action, Discussion
Recommended Action: to determine positions on pending legislation for the 2014 legislative session and determine a position on the resolution regarding state education funding and the PARCC testing.

  1. The Board of Education adopts positions to monitor, support, or oppose legislation to guide the Jeffco lobbyist in his work at the legislature.
  2. As the Legislative Session will conclude on May 7, Mr. Ed Bowditch, district lobbyist, will provide and overview of the session’s activities and any pending issues.
  3. At the April 24 special meeting, Board member Julie Williams requested the Board of Education take action to support HB14-1294, Student Data Collection Privacy Protections Administered by the Department of Education, and SB14-204, Student and Teacher Data Privacy and Security Act.  Additionally, she requested that a resolution on state education funding and PARCC testing be discussed and taken up for action.

(Click for the resolutions and for the Legislative Report)

Our observations:  The first resolution complains that the state has reduced education for schools while adding new requirements.  The second resolution says that the PARCC testing set up is a violation of state law and that the District supports legislation that would delay it, while blocking state and federal influence on education.

8. Public Agenda

8.01 Public Comment (Not On Agenda)

Click here to sign up to speak on a non-agenda item.

This item may be rolled into Agenda item 4.01.

9. Develop Next Agenda

9.01 Board Work Calendar
9.02 Special and Regular Meetings of May 5, 9, 10, 15 and June 5, 2014

Our comments:  You always want to stay for this!  Here is where WNW will try to quietly slide in any new thing they do not want to call attention to.  Additionally, Dahlkemper and Fellman have used this section to try to get things on the Agenda that WNW would rather not have to face.  If you like fireworks, this is generally when there are lot of them.