A Facebook post today got us thinking about our community and many supporters. The post read “What’s on my mind? People who dare. People who participate in the world and in the things they love, no matter what the obstacles…”
One thing is certain when observing social media, there are many perspectives. Deep discussion with the variety of community voices and collaboration has served Jeffco children well for many years.
However, when one visits the Board Docs of Jeffco Schools in preparation for the school board meeting tonight (Click here), there are hundreds of letters to the Board of Education from community members desperately trying to communicate and feeling ignored. The common themes of censorship, curriculum, Board concerns, Board Criticism, West Arvada facilities issues, transparency questions and public comment are a testimony to the deep concerns from our community. Never before in the history of Jeffco Public Schools has there been such a high number of letters to the Board.
Strangely, enewsletters of some groups, such as Jeffco Conservatives, are asking their mailing lists to attend School Board Meetings and giving out “talking points” for items on the agenda. Why does any group need to issue talking points? This is, after all, about our children. Most parents don’t need talking points.
From the Center for Public Education: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/You-May-Also-Be-Interested-In-landing-page-level/Audience-The-Public-YMABI/The-Role-of-School-Boards
“The local school board is a critical public link to public schools. Whether elected or appointed, school board members serve their communities in several important ways.
- First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school board’s agenda—it is the only item.
- When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their community’s view of what students should know and be able to do.
- School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
- School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.”
While we consider these responsibilities, being accessible and accountable to the public and incorporation of community view, we have to wonder why this board majority doesn’t realize that the overwhelming correspondence, public comment, and participation in protests is a huge red flag that they are shirking the very duties, the only duties, for which they are responsible.
Recent concern in the Jeffco Conifer and Evergreen areas has been expressed about the possibility their schools would be moved to a 4 day week for students in classes. Longer days, but a shorter week. Concern spread amongst the Jeffco mountain community like a torrent wildfire – for all the obvious reasons parents might have. We lost track of the number of emails we received about this. One major concern that stands out: this was an idea being floated by the superintendent to the administrative staff in these schools, without any input from parent groups such as PTA, the School Accountability Committees, or the District Calendar Committee. No forums with the superintendent or representative school board member(s).
Recent experience has put Jeffco parents on high alert. Last February, the district conducted a Community Survey to provide input regarding budgeting priorities. The top five funding priorities included electives, small class sizes, and full day kindergarten. Yet, despite repeated out cry from community at board meetings, Full Day Kindergarten for the district’s highest poverty areas was denied, and rather than follow through with promises made to voters during the 2012 3A/3B campaign, the board elected to redirect $5.5 Million to district charter schools.
Last May, regardless of hours of public comment and a community petition with thousands of signatures asking the board reexamine the candidate pool and announce 3-4 new finalists, the board moved forward with one finalist and public comment was limited.
Last year at this time, former Superintendent Stevenson had already held 9 community coffee meetings where any member of the Jeffco community was invited to attend. In the winter of 2011-12, the district asked for parents’ input on what would be the steepest budget cuts in district history; to date $78 Million has not been restored to our public schools. Thankfully, the community group, Citizens for Jeffco Schools stepped forward to request a mill levy and bond be placed on the November 2012 ballot and the community overwhelmingly supported this.
Community has always played an important role as partner to the Jeffco School District in it’s past tradition of collaboration with stakeholders. So, we ask:
IS THE JEFFCO SCHOOL DISTRICT LOSING TOUCH WITH THE JEFFCO COMMUNITY?
Does Community/Parent Feedback matter?
Support Jeffco Kids knows that your feedback and community input plays a vital role in serving our children and we hope that you will DARE to participate.
Want to get involved? email@example.com
Want to receive the newsletter? (We don’t give talking points but have an immense collection of facts for your review.) firstname.lastname@example.org
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Support Jeffco Kids is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization.
Our mission is to educate the Jeffco Community on the importance of supporting public education for ALL kids in Jeffco, inform the community on the current events, and to support a school board that understands the importance of educating ALL kids in Jeffco.
Donations are very much appreciated!
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5683 Fig Way
Arvada, CO 80002
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