Dear Ms. Lasell,
Members of the Board of Education received a copy of your February and March email correspondence and thank you for writing to share your perspective and concerns for the future of Jeffco Public Schools. I sincerely apologize for the delay in my response to you.
On February 27, the Board of Education agreed to revisit in last April or early May the decision not to place an interim superintendent. The Board does not want the added expense, additional layer of administration (Editorial note – or lack thereof), nor to take its focus off current budget and superintendent search work to select an interim superintendent. The four areas supervised by the chiefs placed in charge (academic, operating, financial and school effectiveness) are fully capable of managing their areas of the district. Board President Ken Witt and Jill Fellman meet weekly or as called upon by the chiefs for needed direction. (Editorial note – management by committee?) If agreement cannot be reached, the full Board is consulted at the next regular business meeting.
I trust you will continue to stay engaged as the Board of Education develops the 2014-2015 budget and hires a new superintendent. Our meeting agendas are posted online at http://www.boarddocs.com/co/jeffco/Board.nsf/Public.
Thank you, again, for writing to the Board of Education.
John J. Newkirk
Secretary, Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education
The letter she wrote:
Dear Jefferson County BOE-
Hi My name is Ali Lasell. I am writing my third letter to you, a BOE whose webpage still says that you will respond in 24 hours. (Editorial note – oops!) I am still waiting for a reply to the concerns stated in my first letter which was written nearly two months ago.
Little time has passed since letter two and I must say that I continue to be very uncomfortable with the decisions you are making. I seriously wonder why you (Newkirk, Williams and Witt) actually wanted to be a member of this BOE or any BOARD serving a community.
Your decision to NOT fund 13 sections of full day kindergarten classes for low income students makes me wonder if you really want to improve education for all students in Jeffco PUBLIC Schools. Please help me understand your rationale here. How could you possibly question the value full day kindergarten would have on these kids who probably have very few books in their homes, as well as few literacy experiences with their parents or whoever lives with them. Being out of their homes and in a structured learning environment would make a HUGE difference for these kids on many levels. Do you not understand the difference between being proactive and reactive? I believe that I read that a goal of yours is for the 3rd grade TCAP reading proficiency scores to improve from 80% proficiency to 85% proficiency. Voting FOR 13 additional full time kindergarten classes for the low income students would have been a proactive and sensible plan of action to reach this goal. To the tune of $600,000. What a steal! I truly would like to understand your reasoning behind this. Do you have another plan to address the needs of the disadvantaged students in Jeffco. If so, please share. (Editorial note – see above, no response to this.) Instead you chose to give well over 3 million to charter schools.
In the community surveys, the people stated very clearly what they wanted: more money to charter schools was clearly NOT a priority, ranking close to last; while money for programs for our struggling students, low income students was a top priority. Do you understand this? Does it bother you that you are ignoring the priorities of the community you are supposed to be representing? Please answer this question.
Promises made, promises kept. This banner is oftentimes seen hanging on admin buildings and schools to show the taxpayers that their monies are being spent as was promised. The taxpayers of this District were told exactly how the money would be spent, I am very concerned that this is not happening. The teachers in Jeffco have been very unselfish in giving up pay raises in efforts to NOT cut important programs that are beneficial to kids and to keep class sizes small, with the agreement that when the money comes back, they will be “reimbursed (that’s what I call it). I have been very proud of the Jeffco teachers because of this, now I think they were wrong for trusting that this will happen and maybe they should have made the district cut the hard stuff other districts have had to cut: Outdoor Education, Early Literacy Interventionists, Staff Development Programs, Mentors, remediation classes, admin, sports…the list goes on. As I said in my first letter, Jeffco has benefited from the hundreds of teachers who have bailed out of the other districts whose BOE was unable to make decisions that are best for kids and teachers. Many excellent teachers left those Districts and took jobs in more stable Districts, Districts who valued their students, teachers, and community. Jeffco reaped the benefits from this gaining hundreds of great teachers from other Districts the past few years. I fear the teachers of Jeffco will leave to the more stable Districts. If you continue to ignore the priorities our community clearly states, if you continue to devalue your teachers, they will leave.
Furthermore, if Jeffco School District is recognized as a DIstrict whose teachers and parents are battling a BOE who is making decisions that are detrimental to public education, they will not move here. Some will move out because of your decisions. Slow down, you are moving way too fast.
Promises Made, Promises Kept. I am curious as to whether it bothers you that you are spending our taxpayer dollars on things that were not agreed upon. I urge you to reconsider your stance on my above concerns. Use 600,000$ and add 13 full day kindergarten classes for our students of low income. Start “reimbursing” your teachers for their selfless acts the past 4 years and give them the raise they were promised.
Money for GT? Please, this was another very very low priority of the community. And to add insult to injury, it is obvious this isn’t going to the classrooms. This money is going to administration for GT. Please help me understand this. Please reconsider this decision as well.
I am very concerned. Please help me understand your thinking behind these decisions. How are these decisions benefiting the students of Jeffco. Are you interested in making decisions that are beneficial to our student body or only a certain demographic? Your decisions the past 5 months make me wonder. Please respond to my concerns.
Alison VV Lasell
P.S. Mrs. Fellman and Mrs. Dahlkamper, thanks so much for hanging in there. You have represented the PEOPLE of Jefferson County very clearly and articulately. I can’t imagine being in your situation. Thank you so much for fighting for what is best for my children and all the children of Jefferson County- and their teachers