For many years now, Jeffco Council PTA has been obliged to have representation on the district’s Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee (SPAC) which has functioned as the district’s accountability committee. The partnership has proved beneficial for both. As the district’s largest parent member child advocacy organization Jeffco PTA has had the opportunity to speak on behalf of both parents and students during these very important meetings. Their participation has allowed for much richer discussions at the Jeffco PTA Council board table, and helped PTA leaders direct their focus on programs and legislative priorities that would enrich and enhance Jeffco PTA member families and students, as well as our schools.
Additionally, Jeffco PTA’s participation has provided PTA leaders an opportunity to have full access to district budget process and information, enrollment, achievement, facility and other district data that made it easy for them to inform their membership about and support district programs when they are newly installed and; in those times when the board of education and district felt a need to go to voters for mill levy increases and bonds, Jeffco PTA already had the facts to share with their members and families.
The district has reaped great benefits from this partnership, too, through PTA’s communication channels, fundraising efforts, support for the arts via PTA’s Reflections, lobbying efforts at the Capitol for additional k-12 funding and, again when the district sought voter approved mill levy and bond increases for school operations and facilities, Jeffco PTA is one of the first, as a parent and community organization, asked to endorse these ballot issues.
Recently, the school board elected to make a change to its board committee structures, one of which was to formalize a committee specifically as the District Accountability Committee, separate from the SPAC. Over the summer, volunteers from SPAC worked with SPAC and district leadership to formulate proposed ByLaws for this separate committee based on state statute (C.R.S. 22-11-301) . The work required many hours of volunteer and staff time and was a heartfelt and honest effort to address the statute requirements without disregarding the previous work and membership of SPAC.
It should be noted, state statute does not require or specify a seat for any parent/child advocacy organization such as PTA on the District Accountability Committee (though it does in School Accountability Committees.) Those of us on the Bylaws Committee. who are long time PTA members or have been in PTA leadership roles. fought hard to point out the importance and value of specifically listing PTA membership (especially when one of the charges of the DAC revolves around parent engagement). We were successful in including it in the proposed ByLaws and recommended membership originally introduced at the August 27 Board of Education meeting.
At the most recent School Board meeting (Sept. 24), however, a new and late resolution was proposed by board member John Newkirk. This new resolution which is set to be voted on October 1, provides for minimum membership as directed by the state statute. There is no specified PTA membership to this committee.
Following is specific language pulled from Mr. Newkirk’s resolution regarding the membership, as well as a link to the Board Agenda item.
“Be it further Resolved, the Board of Education shall vote to appoint eleven members, which shall include parents, at least one member of the business community, and at least one and up to three teachers to the District Accountability Committee, which also shall have as members one School Accountability Committee president from each of the 17 parent articulation areas, and the Superintendent of the District”
Previous leadership in Jeffco Schools understood the important partnership between PTA and the district. Several committees were formed as a result of PTA advocacy, including the Data Privacy Committee that was implemented prior to the Board Majority taking office!
If the district wants to reap the benefits of thousands of PTA families fundraising for their schools and helping to add so much money to the school budget, why would the Board Majority want to avoid PTA leadership and real parent engagement?
PTA is a nonpartisan organization engaged in child advocacy. PTA has always been a partner with Jeffco Schools in educating and encouraging parents to become involved in the education of their children.