During the October 15, 2015 Study/Dialog Session of the Jeffco School Board –
Seeking approval of $1.5 million +/- for security budget funding, John McDonald, Executive Director, Security and Emergency Management, shared some astounding numbers to make his case of need:
- 6,400 calls into the Dispatch Center from schools requesting assistance
- 240 Suicide Assessments
- 116+ Safe To Tell calls requiring response
- 12 reports of threats and planned school attacks
Think of the impact of this many calls with an underfunded and understaffed department.
Before final agreement by all 5 members on a motion to fund the requests and direct the superintendent to seek spending efficiencies or alternate funding sources, a disturbing discussion ensued including a suggestion by Ms. Williams to use the “standard Taurus” in place of the current 4 wheel or all wheel drive vehicles (necessary to accommodate mountain roads during winter driving conditions, especially) and John Newkirk questioning the Facilities Department‘s decision to spend $60 million on things like side walks and roofing. Further, Ms. Dahlkemper expressed her frustration that the board (Board Majority vote determined the decision on May 7) would be in a better position to address this urgent funding request had the $15 million underspend (operating funds) not been committed to the capital fund for new construction.
Additionally, the Board Majority seemed not to understand that the safety and emergency response department is different than the discipline office. After two years they don’t understand how our schools work.
The Motion reads:
to approve the Safety Budget Request (Item 3.05) as presented and to direct the superintendent to seek spending efficiencies and/or alternate funding sources to provide the funding thereof, as well as anticipate the associated ongoing expenses in planning the budget for the forthcoming academic year.
The Motion finally passed with amendments but this is a real and serious concern. Yes, we have the Gold Standard for security in Jeffco and districts across the country come to our leaders for guidance and advice. But such an underfunded department is a huge concern. The safety of our children is far too important to ignore or to be impacted with party politics.