Belated and Inadequate Response, a new theme

The Retired School Employees Association responds:

 

Dear Members of the Jefferson County School Board,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of JCRSEA (Jefferson County Retired School Employees Association), we were surprised to receive a response from Mr. Newkirk to our first letter to you (dated January 9) 11 weeks later.  We were beginning to think that you would not respond at all – thank you for your VERY belated, but inadequate response. 

 

We expressed concerns around the hiring of Brad Miller as the Jeffco School Board exclusive attorney.  You really did not answer our questions adequately, and in light of what has transpired in the last three months, we would like to let you know that we continue to struggle to understand many of your decisions.  Therefore, we are presenting some of the major concerns that we would the Jeffco Board of Education to clarify for us as well as the Jeffco community:

 

1) Explain and justify why you felt the need to hire Brad Miller as the Board attorney, as that has not been done by previous Jeffco School Boards.  Also clarify the fact that two of the current board members were not remotely aware that you were considering hiring Mr. Miller until presented to the full board at a meeting where you voted to proceed with this decision.

 

2) Discuss and clarify fully the terms of Mr. Miller’s contract.  To date no formal explanation of his contract has been presented.  Discuss why the majority of his services on his invoices to the district to date have been redacted. 

 

3) Regarding Charter Schools please explain how you plan to evaluate and fund existing as well as potential new schools.  Will the Board of Education be developing a formal set of standards/criteria for loaning additional monies to floundering schools?  Are you developing a rubric for evaluating new applications?  Will ALL students within the charter boundaries be allowed to attend, or will the Board permit limited access? 

 

4) In hiring the new superintendent explain and clarify why the top priorities of the public forums and questionnaires are not included in your documents to Ray and Associates.

 

5) Please justify and explain why the Board did not support the funding of full day kindergarten for schools with highly impacted (35%+) free and reduced students.

 

6) Clarify and explain why the Board wants to allow the contract between the District and the Jefferson County Education Association to expire in 2015.  What are your plans for the future of JCEA and the Board?

 

7) Will the Board honor the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with JCEA to honor the return of steps to the contract this year? How are you demonstrating transparency when there is an effort to discuss negotiations in Executive Session instead of at the board meeting?

 

8) How does the Board of Education plan to include all parents (not just “Choice” parents), teachers, administration, students, and support staff in decisions that impact Jeffco Schools?

 

9) How does the cessation of the appeal over property on Wright Street make good fiscal sense? How do you justify the loss of a $500,000-$1 million piece of property and risk other district property?  

 

As we stated in our first letter, we hope that in the future you will demonstrate complete and full transparency in all board activities.  The entire board as well as the Jeffco community deserves to have input prior to making any decisions.

 

Our combined organizations of retired school employees care very deeply about the continued strength of Jefferson County Schools.  We want to insure the very best education for all the children in Jeffco.  We look forward to a more timely response to our questions.

 

Sincerely,

Robert D. Zachman

Kathleen E. Zachman

Co-Presidents of JCRSEA

Lorraine Bowen

President of JCEA-Retired

 

The Board Secretary response:

 

From: Jeffco Schools Board of Education <board@jeffco.k12.co.us>
Subject: RE: Letter from JCRSEA Board c-14-015
Date: March 28, 2014 at 9:26:18 AM MDT
To: Bob Zachman
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Dear Mr. Zachman,
Members of the Board of Education received a copy of your email correspondence in which you express concern regarding the transparency of the decision to hire an attorney to represent the Board of Education separate from the district’s in-house chief legal counsel.  I sincerely apologize for the delay in my response to you on this matter.
 
 
 
As new board members, we valued moving forward with our work.  As the matter was discussed in public on December 12 and no contract was signed until after the Board vote, board members are in compliance with the law.  We know the Jefferson County community values transparency and financial management of district resources.
 
 
 
The engagement letter was signed by Mr. Witt on December 13, 2013 and the annual cost to the district is estimated to be $90,000; $7,500 a month for an estimated 30 hours of work (editorial note – far more than 30 hours of work is shown on the redacted invoices, this board needs the attorney nearly daily) directly supporting the Board of Education.  Any work by Mr. Miller in addition to 30 hours/month will be billed at $225/hourly rate. 
 
 
 
The scope of the Jeffco board attorney’s work as outlined in the engagement letter include matters primarily as counsel to the Board: legal advice, attend and assist at Board meetings, assist in setting meeting agendas, Board packets, Board training, review Board, subcommittee and district accountability committee bylaws, policies for updates and improvements, meet individually with Board members and district staff ranging from best practices, governance, rules of order, liability, education law, and other areas of interest relevant to school boards.
 
 
 
The district’s chief legal counsel and executive director of Employee Relations will continue reporting directly with the superintendent (editorial note – What?  We don’t have a chief legal counsel and executive director of Employee Relations OR a superintendent – how will they “continue” when those positions are not filed, per Board directive) in support of all legal aspects of the district’s work: special education, employee and student discipline matters, school safety, hiring and termination, contracts, policy work, etc. 
 
 
 
Sincerely,
John J. Newkirk
Secretary, Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education
c-14-015
 
 

To see the original correspondence, see this link – http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/?p=228