Unfortunately, a policy was violated last night by our new Board. The approved practice for the BOE making decisions on action items is for items to be discussed the first time they appear on the Board agenda, with a vote at the following Board meeting or later meetings depending upon how much discussion and information is needed for the Board to engage the public and have all facts to make an appropriate and informed decision for Jeffco Schools.
We were quite hopeful when Board Member Ali Lasell pulled Bradford K-8 School Configuration (Ends 1-3) from the consent agenda and added it to the discussion agenda. Lasell asked great questions but didn’t get appropriate answers from staff. She asked Mr. Elliott about the fiscal impacts and the response she received was that they were trying to make the change “fiscally neutral…as much as possible.” That is NOT a transparent answer when asking the Board to approve something and it’s certainly not accountable to the taxpayers. Lasell also asked about community meetings and engagement and was told about meetings with principals. It should also be noted that no other area principals were present nor documentation presented that showed this feedback from principals or staff. This is NOT community engagement. Certainly it was clear that at least some of the Bradford community had been engaged but not the greater community or other interested parties in the area that would be impacted by the change.
To be clear, this change may very well be good; however, it is irresponsible to make a decision without having all of the facts and knowing all of the impacts. All staff is well aware that they should have community input for changes such as this and should be well educated on proper policies. Having meetings with parents at Bradford only and with principals (without providing documentation showing this feedback) is not acceptable and is not transparent. This issue was brought forth previously when district staff noted changes to Jefferson and Alameda area plans. When we brought this up as an issue, community meetings were finally scheduled, though many attending those meetings reported that they felt they were being given information on a done deal and NOT being asked for feedback.
We still are not certain why attorney Craig Hess who should have been advising the Board of this violation never even looked up from his computer. Further, Superintendent McMinimee should have spoken up as he went over the process with the Board at the last meeting.
District Policy KCB, Cooperative Decision Making
The district supports cooperative decision making within school based committees, articulation areas, and central departments as well as for district wide problem solving. The district believes this process can maximize student achievement, create a positive school climate, and lead to employee, parent and community satisfaction.
The district affirms that:
There is an expectation that schools and departments in the district will use a cooperative decision making process whenever appropriate.
Building principals, department managers, and the superintendent have the ultimate responsibility to ensure the appropriate use of this process and will incorporate training opportunities whenever needed.
The cooperative decision making process should include appropriate involvement of all segments of the school community as well as stakeholders within the organization.
The impact of a school/department decision on other parts of the organization must be considered.
The issues and procedures used in cooperative decision making will be within the limitation of Board and district policies, negotiated agreements, and state laws.
Board Policy EL-11
With respect to providing information and counsel to the Board, the superintendent shall not fail to give the Board as much information as necessary to allow Board members to be adequately informed and supported.
Accordingly, the superintendent may not:
Fail to advise the Board in a timely manner of relevant trends, facts and information, including significant organizational changes.
Fail to advise the Board of changes in Board policy upon which District policy has been established.
Fail to provide for the Board as many staff and external points of view and opinions as needed for fully informed Board decisions as decided or agreed upon by the majority of the Board.
Within practical limits, fail to provide to the Board advance notice of anticipated significant media coverage.
Fail to report in a timely manner any actual or anticipated noncompliance with any Board Ends or Executive Limitations policy.
Certainly, the new Board is, well, new. Mistakes WILL occur as they learn proper procedures and policies. However, what the Board should do to correct this error is to rescind their decision until staff holds multiple, well-advertised community forums, offers appropriate and full feedback from the community, and presents the complete notation of anticipated issues, financial impacts, and impacts to other school communities.
We hope the Board will review our article regarding policy governance from February 2014, which the previous Board completely ignored. http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/the-carver-governance-model/ The previous Board also never made any attempt to correct issues when violations were brought to their attention and flat out ignored the community outcry for corrections of the numerous violations.
Hopefully, staff will take responsibility for their lack of action and violation of the policies listed above and we hope the Board will hold Mr. McMinimee accountable for his responsibility that is clearly defined above as he has had more than a year to learn these policies for which he is accountable.
We are hopeful that the new Board will listen, realize their mistake, take ownership and take appropriate action promptly.
The new Board has an extremely long list of issues awaiting their attention and we hope to see those added to their agendas very soon. Here are a few of them:
- Talk of shutting down the Jeffco Virtual Academy K-5 and handing the program off to Two Roads Charter School. This has not even appeared on Board Docs so we are questioning why community members know about it and believe that this is being done. If staff is making these decisions, they are doing so inappropriately by not allowing community input and not informing the Board of their intentions to make changes that impact finances and many members of the community.
- Dealing with the new DAC. Statute wasn’t even attempted to be met when the recalled Board members forced this agenda and the committee is not at all representative of the community, as required by law. The data collected on those volunteering did not include any information that would assist in making the committee compliant with law.
- Facilities issues. There are thousands of children waiting in West Arvada and Lakewood. Time is critical as this has been outstanding with no appropriate action for two years now.
- The laughable 10 month agreement with teachers expires in just a few months. It took 6 months to negotiate and work needs to start immediately to have this done before the end of the year.
- Advise the public as to the status of hiring security/safety staff, funding for the department and learn more about the problems impacting our children. Note the infographics below from Safe2Tell. This is extremely concerning.
What other ideas do you have that the Board needs to focus on quickly?