For the past five years I have had a unique privilege of visiting schools across Jeffco. I’ve met dedicated education professionals, advocated for groups across Jeffco, listened to the concerns of parents, and seen students accomplish amazing feats. For these reasons, I feel compelled to share what I have witnessed in Jeffco schools
When it comes to excellence, I am continually amazed by the perseverance of Jeffco’s students and staff. Jeffco schools is home to amazing neighborhood schools, options, and charters that give students a variety of unique opportunities. I’ve seen students excel at building hydrogen-fuel cars, master beautiful pieces of music, compete at a variety of sports, master challenging subjects, showcase thought-provoking art, create movies, build websites, learn difficult career technical skills, and more. Along the way, Jeffco students have struggled, failed, encouraged one another, and persevered. Jeffco kids have won numerous awards, earned millions in scholarships, and made positive impacts in their communities.
I have also borne witness to the challenges of scarce and often inadequate resources. I have seen schools flooding during rainstorms, heating and cooling systems that need replacement, and plumbing that repeatedly backs up. I’ve seen the old textbooks, the broken desks, the outdated technology, and the classrooms that don’t have enough art supplies or paper. I have shaken the hands of teachers who have spent $500 to $1000 of their own money to help their students. I have talked with staff who have caseloads far too large to give each student the attention they need and deserve. For far too long our state has told our schools, “Just deal with less.”
Additionally, in the wake of more mass shootings at schools, it has become apparent that more must be done to protect Jeffco’s 86,000 students. Jeffco’s Safety and Security Task Force, a committee made up of 50 Jeffco stakeholders of various backgrounds, was formed to tackle this urgent need. Their recommendations included increased mental health services, enhanced interior door locks, upgraded security cameras, and more. You can read the full report here. http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/School-Safety-Task-Force-Report_Final-002.pdf These vital needs require funding. Without additional funding, it would be impossible to fully implement the Safety Task Force’s recommendations.
5A, 5B, and Amendment 73 each fill a significant need. 5A will expand full-day early childhood education, increase mental health services, update aging textbooks and technology, expand STEM and other specialized programming, and help attract and retain great teachers.
5B will provide resources to replace three aging schools and build two new schools in high-growth areas. Across Jeffco, all schools will see improvements to vital needs such as heating, plumbing, roof repairs, building security upgrades, and more. Amendment 73 will finally fix the state’s numerous conflicting laws that have allowed Colorado’s K-12 funding to plummet over $2000 per-pupil below the national average. (Outside Jeffco, over half of Colorado’s school districts have been forced to switch to a four-day week because of inadequate funding.)
I am a fiscal conservative, and over the years I have learned an important fact: To obtain excellent outcomes, you must invest adequate resources. For too long, Colorado has failed to adequately invest in our state’s children. In fact, since the 2008 Recession, every Colorado student has been given less resources than when I attended high school in the early 2000s. We can do better, and we must. While I want my taxes as low as possible, it must not come at the cost of depriving Colorado’s children of critical resources. This is why I am asking all of you to join me in supporting 5A, 5B, and Amendment 73.
If for some reason you are still not convinced, I urge you to do your homework before you vote. Talk to multiple students, parents, and teachers. Visit your neighborhood school and see their needs firsthand. (Additionally, you can see each school’s proposed building improvements here. http://www.jeffcopublicschools.org/services/facilities/facility_facts )
Proud Jeffco resident and community member
Founder, Jeffco Citizens For Responsible Education