Association News

Board Watch: The Three Monsters of the BoE

Sep 04, 2015
The arrogance of the Board Majority was on full display as they continued their desperate campaigning in response to the parent led recall effort. When the meeting adjourned after 11, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams had all reversed their position on bonds; Williams had grappled with some new concepts when she spoke with concern about “some of our students in demographic areas;” and Witt had lost his temper at longtime district COO and facilities expert Steve Bell. There was also public comment from a new student group called the Bright Futures Coalition demanding the recall of the JeffCo School Board Majority. The students clearly stated that they are not union pawns and talked about one of their favorite teachers at Standley Lake High School who left because of the actions of the Board Majority.

Amy Weber’s presentation about Masters’ Degrees and compensation was unsurprising in its use of cherry-picked data that attempts to prove educators with advanced degrees are no more effective than educators without them. Weber continued to go back to being able to compete with surrounding districts, many of which do offer increased compensation for Masters’ Degrees. Ms. Dahlkemper called the Board Majority out and stated that they should have “done better than 1% if they wanted the district to be competitive.” Weber had done the math and revealed that it would take an educator fifty years to reach the salary ceiling at a rate of 1.5% a year (remember – the rate for teachers rated highly effective isn’t even that generous this year at 1.31%). She admitted that JeffCo needs to remain competitive to keep great teachers from spending a few years here and moving on to districts that will reward them for their experience and advanced degrees, but also stated that “we need a different approach to be competitive – not based on Masters’ Degrees." Ms. Fellman urged caution and called for collaboration with JCEA while developing any new compensation plans.

The Board Majority highlighted their incompetence during the facilities discussion about building a new school in the northwest part of the district. A few groups offered public comment in support of building at the Leyden Rock site first as opposed to Table Rock. Newkirk jumped on the opportunity to make a motion to build a school on the Leyden Rock site even though it would cost about $3.5 million just to prepare the site because of topographical challenges. This challenge means the $18 million set aside for a new building by the Board would provide about two hundred and fifty fewer seats and went against the recommendation of COO Steve Bell and his team – the same experts that had recommended taking advantage of historically low interest rates and participating in Certificates of Participation that would have allowed a full, long term facilities plan to be enacted. The discussion got heated several times as Witt accused Ms. Dahlkemper of “failing to ask for the money that was needed” during 3A and 3B – essentially blaming the facilities crisis on the previous Board of Education, and shot back at Mr. Bell when he suggested that the decision was due to interests “of the community” and not population growth patterns as Witt had insisted. CLICK HERE to view the exchange. After several nested and subordinate motions, the BoE voted unanimously to build a school at the Candelas site and will have a discussion about the grade configuration at the next meeting.

The Board Majority are on their heels thanks to the work of JCEA members and an increasingly large group of parents and community members who believe in high quality public schools for all students in JeffCo. There is a heavy lift in front of us and we ALL need to be working towards victory in Election 2015. We can win for our students if we all stand up and walk, knock, and talk to voters in the coming weeks leading up to November 3rd.