On August 23, 2018 the Jeffco Board of Education unanimously voted to give the voters a chance to increase their investment in our community this November.
The evening was filled with public comment from a wide variety of stakeholders. Parents, education support professionals, administrators, and educators, encouraged the Board to not only support Amendment 73, a statewide funding proposal by Great Schools, Thriving Communities, but also send a Mill Levy and Bond to the voters.
The evening began with a group comment from administrators with JCAA. Colleen Owens, Principal at Green Mountain High School noted that there are two open positions at Green Mountain as the school year begins. Qualified teacher candidates are walking away because they can’t afford to take the positions. Green Mountain also has extensive building maintenance needs that cannot be addressed without a Bond on the ballot.
Educators over and over reiterated how badly a Mill is needed in order to make sure we can keep the best educators and ESP’s working with our students.
Sherry, a Kitchen Manager at a Jeffco elementary school, and parent of two Jeffco students, told the Board that her take home pay is $816 while her rent is $1600 a month. She must work two additional jobs to keep up with the cost of living, and her children on Medicaid and public assistance.
One of the most powerful messages came from 3rd grade teacher and member Amanda Garner. Over and over she reiterated that our Jeffco students deserve better. “I started teaching in a neighboring district, and it’s taken me 6 years and adding a masters just to match what I made at year one with only a bachelors in that district. I choose to stay. I choose to stay at my school because I have found a home there… For the last three years I have had to work 2, 3, or 4 jobs in order to teach in Jefferson County while also getting my master’s degree… Jeffco kids deserve better. Jeffco teachers deserve better. This community as a whole deserves better.”
After an hour and a half of public comment, overwhelmingly in support of Amendment 73, and a Mill/ Bond package, the Board of Education began weighing the options. They began with a motion to support Amendment 73, and after speaking to the motion, voted unanimously in support .
Next was the $567 million Bond package. Board member Amanda Stevens spoke to the issue, saying, “There’s aging gracefully, and then there’s what happens when your buildings hit 50 and they can’t be maintained.” In another 5-0 vote the board voted to put the Bond on the ballot in November.
The final topic of conversation was the $33 million Mill Levy override. Dr. Glass spoke to the proposed package, suggesting the Mill go to voters with language ensuring none of the funds can be spent on senior administration, such as Supt. Glass, Community Superintendents, and Cabinet members, and an accountability committee to oversee the expenditure of the fund. The board voted 5-0 to send a Mill to the voters this fall.
“This has to be an all hands on deck effort. We need all these things for our students to succeed,” said Board member Brad Rupert.
While the work to come is sure to be great, Amanda Garner reminds us, “There is hope that it won’t always be this hard.” Our students, teachers, and community deserves more and we have the opportunity to deliver. Let’s invest in our students and deliver equity and respect to Jeffco Schools. Now, what’s it going to take?