Another Letter from a Mom Who Wasn’t Allowed to Speak

Board Members Witt, Newkirk and Williams:

 

I am formally registering my complaint against your poor handling of public comment at last night’s May 27, 2014 Board Meeting.  To allow a mere 45 minutes to accommodate public comment for a resident population of over 500,000– a school student population alone of over 80,000—is disrespectful beyond belief.  I am appalled that that seemed acceptable to you.  I understand, Mr. Witt, your expressed concern with comments becoming repetitive in nature; however, shouldn’t that be a red flag to you that such a large percentage of your stakeholders feel so strongly about the specific items that you are deciding about their future both economically and with regards to their children?  The fact that the same concerns keep surfacing should make you stop and re-evaluate what you are doing.

 

Secondly, I would like to have on record that per your first come/ first served policy for the aforementioned public comment period that I personally should have been the last person to speak.  That you said clearly “We only have time for one more.”, then proceeded to call NOT my name as it appeared next on the list, but a person who very clearly abhorred Dr. Stevenson and fully supports your reform measures, seems very suspect.  While I hate to go so far as calling it a conspiracy, I am deeply concerned that his was the last public voice heard before the vote and that he was called to speak OUT OF ORDER. (Please see attached photograph of speaking list to confirm these allegations)

 Six Minute Sign Up list

Since I was not allowed to speak last night I will share my voice now:

 

Thank you for your time tonight.

 

I begin with a story that defines my moral compass with relation to the draft contract and selection of sole finalist Mr. McMinimee.  A few years ago my 2 oldest sons started playing hockey, a sport I’ve always loved to watch but never played or even fully understood the rules.  I often found myself caught up in the excitement of the game, screaming at them like many parents do. “Catch that pass! Take the shot! “   It was so easy to be the person in the stands who was emotionally involved in the game, but so far removed from its reality and execution.

Then, by default, I ended up coaching a season.   I threw myself whole heartedly into teaching a sport I knew next to nothing about.  But I educated myself on the game, sought knowledge from those with years of experience and tried and true advice, and most of all– through great effort– I finally earned the team’s respect by learning to play the game myself.  No longer was I just telling them what to do and failing, but I was leading them by example.  We went from the bottom to second place. The lessons I learned from that experience are that it is morally wrong and completely ineffective to ask of someone what you yourself aren’t willing to do, and that you can always change course if your current action plan isn’t working.

 

Sure, this was only hockey but the lesson applies just as well to the Superintendent candidate and his contract.  As Ms. Williams shared on FB, we now know officially that the board majority is a reform-minded group.  I find it difficult to understand why a movement that so highly values tying measurable outcomes to salary has not placed similar requirements on its leader.  We can only assume that your future negotiations with teachers will be from a market and merit based stance, so why not demonstrate your strong belief in this tactic by placing the same requirements on your superintendent?  Any superintendent who shares the pay for performance ideology should have no concerns with holding themselves to the same standards as all those he or she is expected to lead.  That’s ACCOUNTABILITY.

 

I’d also like to express how disturbed I am at the level of pay being offered.  While I understand the/your reform idea is to attract qualified candidates I can’t help but think this specific amount is a demonstration of fiscal irresponsibility with relation to Mr. McMinimee’s qualifications. If we are using the market based standard, it is noticeably high in comparison to similar districts with more experienced superintendents.  Those comparisons have already been made in letters previously sent to the Board by other concerned citizens so I know you have the documentation supporting my claims. In addition, by offering a 5 year contract the district is put into a difficult financial position by paying out so many taxpayer dollars should he be a dud.  Per your claimed desire to be transparent, the public has every right to know specifically why he was your top choice.  Why ONLY HE seemed worthy of the position, let alone such a large salary and long contract.  Stand by your ideology and show us the data. That’s TRANSPARENCY.

 

I am saddened that with over 60 applicants you were unable to come together in a unanimous choice, and further disheartened that only one finalist was made public– which appears to go against common practice in the industry.  There is still time to rectify this travesty.  You are at a crossroads here: forge ahead with your increasingly unpopular politics, or make a genuine effort to work with your community, your teachers, your stakeholders to change course and continue with JeffCo’s strong history of successful education practices.

 

 Per Board policy you agreed when elected to uphold the ideal of listening to your community and setting aside any personal agenda.  Here is a grand opportunity for you demonstrate that you are hearing your stakeholders, that you CAN be fiscally responsible, and that you have the ability to be open minded and collaborative.  I kindly request that you rethink both your choice of candidate and the contract offered to whomever will become our next superintendent.  We only want what’s best for ALL JeffCo students, do you?

 

I emphasize that it is never too late to change course; in fact, I think the community would only think highly of you for recognizing ours is not a district to reform and showing us you are human, that you do care about us and our children as the people you were elected to serve.  I’ve always taught my children that mistakes are simply opportunities for growth and knowledge, that every moment offers a new chance to make a better choice despite what choices have been made in the past.  You, too, can always make a better choice.  It’s time to think of ALL JeffCo, don’t you think?

 

Regards,

Katrina Prill

Mother of 4

Mt Carbon Elementary, Littleton