Board majority makes last ditch effort to save face in light of recall announcement
The facilities discussion that took place at Thursday’s (Sept. 3rd) Board of Ed meeting brought about some real surprises. Just as the regular board meeting was ready to begin, supporters for recall learned the recall election would take place on the November 3rd ballot. This seem to set the stage for decisions board majority members would or would not make in the evening’s meeting.
Early on, SJK was ready to announce the decision by board majority members to move forward with a school at Leyden Rock in spite of the challenging plot specs that would tag on additional costs and require an added 6 months to construction time, for what would result in a facility too small to adequately meet current urgent needs. Board majority members Newkirk and Witt really wanted the Leyden Rock site badly and, in a painfully long conversation (wherein the staff was subjected to unbelievable and inexcusable disrespect), brought the discussion back to Leyden Rock numerous times before relenting to the Candelas site. So much so, that we (SJK) couldn’t help but wonder:
Are any discussions going on between the majority board members that we aren’t privy to? Is it coincidence that a member of the Leyden School Advocate group sent a personal invitation to Ken Witt to the May 27, 2015 meeting with Leyden Rock Developer, Arvada Mayor, Arvada City Manager, and Leyden School Advocate Representatives? The letter states John Newkirk had already agreed to attend along with everyone else mentioned.
In the end, the Candelas site was agreed upon by all 5 board members – but wait, no decision whether or not to build a K-6 or a K-8. The proposal by staff was for a K-8 on this site because of the urgent needs, Candelas could accommodate a larger school (625 seats) and required no up-front prep or costs as did Leyden Rock.
August 27, 2015
If you followed the conversation (either on live-streaming or in person) http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9YQLVE57F1BE you were left scratching your head. At one point Julie Williams states how much she really likes K-8 and 7-12 models because they eliminate a transition for students; yet, in the very same sentence, supported a K-6 at Candelas. Ken Witt seemed to imply the 7th and 8th grade accommodations weren’t going to be necessary; but the kids who go through the K-6 will need a 7/ 8 grade school.
The final decision was a vote to build a school on Candelas (where staff recommended a K-8), but not identifying it as a K-8 – or at least not for another few weeks.
HERE’S THE BIG SURPRISE OF THE EVENING. In what may be seen as a last ditch effort to save face in the eyes of Jeffco public education voters, the 3 board majority members offered their support for considering and asking staff to bring forward a proposal for a bond package for the district for November 2016.
Ken Witt proclaimed the real problem was the district or the board or the citizens’ committee for the 2012 3B (bond) campaign didn’t ask for enough dollars to do the work. The bond portion of the 3B was for $99 million, specifically to keep our students and staff “warm, safe, and dry”. The bare minimum of maintenance needs. Witt’s condescending tone and comments were absolutely offensive to the community volunteers who spent their own time and money to get that campaign passed, another disrespectful move from a man who never participated previously.
http://www.supportjeffcoschools.com/3a-and-3b-faq/bond-scope/ Witt, after not supporting 3A/3B now claims this should have been a $500 million bond package.
It should be noted, during the various campaign forums of 2013, all 3 candidates (Witt, Williams and Newkirk) noted they did not support or vote for 3A/3B and ran on a No Tax platform.
Why, you may ask yourself, would 3 school board members who are deemed as “Conservatives”, who ran on an anti-tax platform, now decide to support one for Fall of 2016? We think it’s pretty clear: offer to save the day with a bond campaign.
Of course, there should be questions around the ethics of a 5 member school board, where 2 members are not running for re-election, and the other 3 members are being recalled, committing the school district to a bond campaign for $100’s of millions of dollars ($300-$500 million).
Are they hoping the Jeffco Community won’t notice the questionable fiscal decisions the 3 have made in their time on the Board?
Are Board Majority members Witt, Williams and Newkirk hoping the Jeffco Community won’t remember the lack of transparency and accountability in the last 2 years?