The following news release was sent by Novitas Communications regarding the Jeffco Public Schools Budget. Take a look and note our comments on the release in red!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jeffco Public Schools
Jeffco School Board Adopts 2015-2016 Budget
District increases pay for current staff and equalizes charter mill levy override funding
GOLDEN, Colo. (June 18, 2015) – The Jeffco Schools Board of Education tonight adopted the final budget for 2015-2016. ON A 3v2 VOTE. – Read to the bottom to see why board member Jill Fellman voted against the budget.
This budget is the culmination of a process that began in August 2014, during which the District sought community and staff input though a budget survey, budget forums held throughout the district, and public hearings.
“Our Jeffco community placed a high value on competitive employee compensation, on a targeted focus on improving early literacy, and on increasing staff,” said Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee. “We faced budget challenges because we received less than we expected from the state, but we see this budget as a win for our teachers, students, and families in Jeffco.”
The budget contained a $15.7 million compensation placeholder for teachers and staff. Compensation items accounted for approximately 82 percent of the new state money in an effort to attract, retain, and reward the best teachers and staff for Jeffco Schools. The highlights of this placeholder in Jeffco Schools’ general fund that the board approved include:
- An average one-percent increase for all staff differentiated by performance
How does Superintendent McMinimee say this is “a win for our teachers, students and families in Jeffco” with a straight face? Teachers and staff took a 3% pay cut and have endured pay freezes over the past 4-5 years as a way of supporting the students and families of the district – and the district itself as it faced budget cuts of upwards of $63 million into 2012, with an additional $45 million budget cut scheduled for school year 2013/4 (had the mill levy increase not passed). The 1% increase shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by Jeffco teachers when they stepped up in collaboration with the district to see us through some tough times.
Adjustments to current licensed staff salaries to ensure Jeffco teachers are paid competitively with the new hire salary plan
- Additionally, the budget includes targeted salary items to standardize the work year for assistant principals, and to make market adjustments for principal salaries.
The Board also approved a $2 million additional allocation to be distributed based on enrollment to charter schools.
“For the first time in Jeffco history, all Jeffco Schools students will receive the same per pupil funding from the mill levy override, regardless of the public school he or she attends,” said McMinimee. “The previous inequities were unfair.”
Another bright spot in the budget included a $3 million transfer to the capital reserve fund for a new school in Northwest Arvada, bringing the total placeholder for the new facility to $18 million, which will allow Jeffco Schools to build a new school without incurring additional debt.
“Our community told us clearly that we need a new school in Northwest Arvada, but also that they were not keen on taking out additional debt. It was clear that we would not have additional revenue to pay for the debt in future years, which means that Jeffco would have had to cut other areas in future budgets to make debt payments,” said Ken Witt, President of the Jeffco School Board. “We listened to the Jeffco Community, and believe this is a responsible and positive solution for everyone.”
Superintendent McMinimee and Jeffco Board of Ed President Ken Witt both got this wrong!
Yes, the community spoke out. The community begged for a solution to the overcrowding that included building new schools and completion of Sierra Phase II. They encouraged the use of COP’s as a reasonable source of funding by which to accomplish this.
The “bright spot” referred to by including the “$3 million transfer to the capital reserve fund for a new school in Northwest Arvada, bringing the total placeholder for the new facility to $18 million”, may add funds to what the board is designating for new school construction, but District staff has repeatedly advised the board the Leyden Rock location is one of the more difficult locations on which to build (difficult as in adding to the construction cost due to the location set aside for construction). It is unreasonable to think a quality new school can be built for that amount. But, of course, perhaps the Board Majority and Mr. McMinimee are not concerned with the quality of schools the district constructs for it’s students.
The $3 million transfer now being dedicated to new school construction is no longer available to the district for the routine maintenance on school facilities already in desperate need to upkeep.
State funding increased by approximately 2.8 percent due to inflation and enrollment growth, which made the new expenditures possible. These investments support the goals of improving student achievement and of addressing the community’s values.
Additional information regarding the district’s budget can be found online at www.jeffcopublicschools.org/finance.
About Jeffco Public Schools
Jeffco Public Schools has been providing educational excellence for more than 60 years. Approximately nine percent of all the K-12 students in Colorado attend a Jeffco School. Our mission is to provide a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future. The district has 155 schools on 168 campuses. Additional information about Jeffco Public Schools can be found at JeffcoPublicSchools.org.
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Board Member Jill Fellman’s Reasons for voting NO on the Budget:
- Compensation – school districts around us are demonstrating the value they place in educators by increasing compensation – Boulder – 2.8%; Douglas County – 3.2% — we are 1%
- Substitute pay – while I appreciate Mr. McMinimee’s comments about increasing substitute pay can come from within budget – I’d like to see that plan.
- Facilities – while I am thrilled that we have allocated $18 for a K-6 school for 600 students – after almost a year of telling our citizens that we were going to put together a real plan to address growth in the northwest part of the county during our budget process, we still do not have a plan that will account for the dramatic increase in students projected (more than 4500 students). We have not addressed secondary at all. We did not approve “Sierra phase 2” – the cracks in the foundation and ceiling at that school are extremely concerning. Someone is going to get hurt, and the District will be liable. I understand that Mr. Witt and Mr. Newkirk met with the Leyden Rock community – amazingly, they never shared anything about that meeting with this Board when we discussed these issues in our last meeting. I heard about it after the fact from Arvada’s City Manager. Our staff, FOC, and CAAC have all encouraged us to issue COP’s to accelerate the building of schools. We can clearly do this in a fiscally responsible manner. Yet 3 board members ignore this advice, and despite our repeated promises to the community about developing a longer term plan to address facilities issues, this budget once again reneges on a commitment to Jeffco citizens.
- Reserves – adding only $1.5M to our unassigned reserves is troubling. Our governor has suggested there will be a downturn in the economy and we are not equipped to deal with that.
- Charter School Equalization – I value ALL children – and am pleased that we are on a path do so financially with charter schools. However, I am still concerned about their Accountability to the district. In speaking with Mr. Matlick, I believe there are things in place to review charter school’s budgets – however, I’d like to hear more about and I think that this board has a DUTY to learn more about these details and to consider them before allocating more money (this year it’s $2.5M).