Fiscal Impacts to Jeffco

How the Negative factor and Poor Fiscal Management will Hurt Jeffco:

“Colorado’s $855 million school funding gap may well grow in 2016-17,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in remarks to a group that advocates for improved school support.

“We might not be able to decrease the negative factor, and there might be an increase,” the governor said, referring to the 2016-17 budget plan he submitted to the legislature.”

Why is this important? Why should Jeffco folks be concerned?
Because the Jeffco School Board has committed $15 million of last year’s Underspend (operating funds) to construction of a new school in NW Arvada that won’t even come close to meeting the needs of the growing population. In doing so, the Board Majority passed up a proposed motion to set an additional $2 million in Reserves, too. This is the school the Jeffco Board Majority members who were recalled brag about “building without adding debt”.  But more on this in a bit.

Meanwhile, in the September 24th School Board Study Session, when approached by our Safety and Security Executive Director for additional funding because this department had been surviving on a lean staff after making their own cuts to accommodate the budget; a wake up call rang for some that the $1.8M needed just doesn’t exist. The district’s already over-extended Security staff (still providing a Gold Standard of Security and Safety) should be a concern for ALL Jeffco parents and there are no dollars to address the needs.

Back to the facilities issue:

The Board has approved construction of a school that might offer 600 seats (scheduled for completion Fall/Winter of 2017), when 6,500-7000 new students for just that area are expected over the next 5 years (Fall of 2020). Those 6,500+ students are not going to wait and just magically show up in 5 years, the student population will grow to that number throughout the next 5 years. 600 hardly makes a dent.

While the student population is increasing in NW Arvada over the next 5 years by 6,500 -7,000, Lakewood’s Solterra and surrounding neighborhoods continue to grow with new developments in the planning process. Another 3,000 new students in the next 5-7 years. Again, wake up Jeffco, these students are not just going to wait for 5 or 7 years and just magically appear on Jeffco’s Schools’ doorstep at the same time when there might be new schools to accommodate them. It just doesn’t work that way.

And, at the School Board’s October 1st meeting, the district provided updates on the new Alameda Intl J/HS and Jefferson 7-12 schools. Alameda Principal Susie Van Scoyk reported already being at capacity.

Since August of 2014, our Chief Operating Officer, has reported on the dire new facility needs to address the overcrowding situation in NW Arvada. He also reported that of the the nearly 12 million sq. ft. of the district’s physical space, valued at $2.4 Billion, over 4 million of those sq. ft. were built between 1946 and 1965 (that’s right between 70 and 50 years old!); and 3.8 million sq. ft. of our buildings were built between 1966 and 1985 (between 50 and 30 years old). Next year, in 2016, some of our children will be attending schools as old if not older than their grandparents, at 50+ years. 12 campus sites were listed in the “Replacement” category based on the Facility Condition Index, and total facility needs exceeded $800 million.

Why is this important and why should Jeffco folks be concerned about a growing Negative Factor?

Because, if the previous Board committed $15 million of operating funds to capital needs thinking the growing Colorado economy would allow for an increase in funds from the state in 2016, we just learned that won’t happen.


What about Reserve funds?

The district CFO didn’t think it was wise to tap the Reserves for the Security request for this very reason: dollars coming from the state in 2016 could be less than expected. We have many other operating costs to address. 

Not that the previous Board Majority would have chosen to compensate staff at a more competitive level (they are committed to the Pay for Performance plan); but what will the district look like now that we have lost over 1,000 staff in just this one year? What will our classrooms look like with a majority of young, inexperienced teachers? And, if funding from the state continues to stagnate, with larger class sizes?

What about the loss of our teachers and Jeffco’s ability to keep our experienced teachers? We won’t be able to do it when other districts prove to be much more competitive.

Jeffco Teacher Salary/Comp Sept 2015

Beginning BA
5 Year w/ BA
Beginning MA
5 Year w/ MA
$38, 422
Cherry Crk*

*Cherry Creek numbers July 2013 through June 2014

Summed up, an Increased Negative Factor means the school district will likely see less funding for our pupils next year (and the year after). Due to the recalled Board Majority’s poor job of managing our tax-payers’ dollars, we will have little or nothing to help make up the difference. It means we won’t have the funds to retain or attract experienced teachers for our classrooms. It means more and more of our kids will be in crowded classrooms because won’t have funds to build schools to accommodate the growth of our community. It means the schools our kids are attending will be seriously out-dated (70-30 years old) and these buildings already in dire need of construction updates and improvements.