Keeping your eye on the ball

We know there are a great many concerns regarding the future of public education on a federal level (especially after hearing Betsy DeVos’ response to questions during her confirmation hearing as President Trump’s Secretary of Education).

We even posted about it on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SupportJeffcoKids/.

If you saw the post and Liked it, that’s great. We hope you took it two steps further. We hope you shared it on your Timeline and then actually contacted both our senators (Bennet & Gardner).

Social media is crowded these days – about the changing of the guard at the presidential level and cabinet choices, as well as actions being taken or considered in Congress. It can be overwhelming.

Let’s all take a deep breath and consider where we have the greatest power. It’s right here. Here in Jeffco and here in Colorado.  

Let’s use our power for good and let’s remember we can accomplish so much more when we stand together. Saturday’s March was intended to send a message on a national (and global) level, but our local elected officials were watching too. They’ve been put on notice. Let’s make sure, after marching Saturday everyone didn’t go home, put their Nikes in the closet and forget about all the hard work that now really just begins.

Today, we want to remind all of our SJK supporters and volunteers not to take your eye off the ball of what is going on in your own backyard.  You have the ability to create change!

We absolutely must stay vigilant when it comes to making sure policies pursued at the federal level that will be harmful to the institution of public education (or threatens our values) aren’t allowed to slip by, but let’s also make sure here in Jeffco and Colorado, we are vigilant as well; for policies enacted at our state and local level will impact our children and schools sooner and may even carry a harsher effect.

It starts here at home –

The Agenda for the Jeffco School Board January 26 Study/Dialogue Session has been posted. You can live stream if you don’t have an interest in attending in person.

http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AHAT6L75D903

Among the agenda items are:

Superintendent Search
Employee Negotiations
Finance and 2017/18 Budget Overview: Cabinet Recommendations
Facilities Support of Jeffco 2020

 

The Jeffco school board will soon begin a national search for a new superintendent. Regardless of how you feel about their decision, school board members have reassured the Jeffco community we will have a transparent process and an opportunity to provide our input on the superintendent search – Don’t let it slip through your fingers.

The Jeffco school board and district are facing some very difficult budget decisions.   Beginning January 21 (ending February 10), the district is making an on-line budget tool available for your input.   You can learn more about the on-line budget tool (http://jeffcoschools.citizenbudget.com)

and the telephone town hall meetings here: http://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/media/news.php?id=4103850645463905259&rel=home

We are disappointed there are no public budget forums scheduled where community members can meet face to face with board members to share their opinions and input. http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/budget-decisions-ahead/

We strongly urge you to make the most of what is made available.

 

If you have comments concerning the budget, the budget process, the facilities issues, or the superintendent search, you can email the Jeffco school board members directly: http://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/board/members.html

School district budgets are a good segue to state issues.

Our state legislators have been busy writing and introducing legislation since the first day of this session (January 11th).   You may have even read about some bills that are being discussed or already proposed.

This article is a good example: http://www.kunc.org/post/lawmakers-float-solutions-colorado-s-school-funding-shortfall – it includes a 3 and a half minute audio worth the listen where Ann Marie Awad of KUNC talks with Tracie Rainey of the Colorado School Finance Project about Mill Levy overrides. The article also talks about:

A universal mill levy – The proposal would alter the Gallagher Amendment…which restricts the amount of the state’s property tax burden that falls on homeowners, by reinstating a universal mill levy.

Hickenlooper’s proposed hike on marijuana taxes that would fund schools with another $42 million – The means of distribution for those funds is unclear. If this revenue is distributed the same way pot tax revenue is currently meted out to schools (BEST program for school construction only), it may not be a total solution.

The second half of Hickenlooper’s plan to fund education focuses on property taxes…Hickenlooper projects this could raise $68 million for schools.

(Sounds like a lot, but for 2017/18, the Governor’s proposal would increase the negative factor by $876 million statewide – Jeffco’s share is $80 million. To be clear, that’s how underfunded we would be. http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/files/AFJQLV69E217/$file/Presentation%20Budget%20Update%20BOE%2011-17-16.pdf)

There are a few ways you can track legislation focusing on bills that will impact public education from Pre-K to Post Secondary,

You may want to consider joining Colorado PTA – and sign up for their Legislative Committee. The committee meets twice monthly (during the legislative session) to review bills that apply directly to CoPTA’s Legislative Platform, as well as general education and children’s welfare. http://copta.org/legislative-committee/

If you chose to go a different route, consider checking out Chalkbeat’s on-line “bill tracker”

http://www.chalkbeat.org/co/2017-bill-tracker/?utm_source=Chalkbeat+Colorado&utm_campaign=b125ea43e6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_588bc72838-b125ea43e6-93170697

We encourage you to talk to your legislators. If you don’t know who your House District Representative or Senator is, you can find out here: http://leg.colorado.gov/find-my-legislator

Look them up. Sign up for their newsletter, learn where they stand on education and other important issues, and most importantly, let them know where you stand.

Stay tuned to Support Jeffco Kids. We will be watching carefully and invite you to join us.