A Note From Jonna:
This January marks 4 years since Shawna and I began the work of Support Jeffco Kids. I don’t know that I could have a better person by my side. We have weathered some tough storms and celebrated some great victories together. The most important thing about all of this is we’ve been a team the entire time. That means we’ve had a deep level of trust in each other, appreciated each other’s strengths and compensated for any weaknesses. Thank you Shawna for being my SJK Partner!
We’ve seen Jeffco survive great challenges. Jeffco’s ability to successfully survive that can be attributed to the strong system that was already in place prior to the November 2013 election. Jeffco’s ability to turn things around via the Recall was the result of dedicated parents, employees, and some truly strong community ties. Organizations that worked together then and continue to work together today: our employees’ associations JCEA, JESPA, JCAA; Jeffco PTA, Support Jeffco Kids, and other community and parent groups. This continued collaboration is something we all need to celebrate. It’s one of the things that makes Jeffco special.
It’s important to note, Jeffco Schools continues to do good work, a testament to our dedicated staff. #DoingMoreWithLess
Over the years, Jeffco has established a Tradition of Excellence. We can all celebrate that continued Tradition of Excellence with recent news of 45 awards from CDE which included the Center of Excellence Award, High School Academic Growth Award, Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award (15 schools), John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award (27 schools). http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/45-awards-to-jeffco-schools/
We have teachers doing outstanding work every day – the City of Arvada just recognized a few, including AWest Choir Director, Chris Maunu, a Grammy Finalist! http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/they-deserve-capes/ But there are so many more who don’t get their name and face posted on social media. #ThankATeacher
Our District Security Department is known nation-wide for setting the Gold Standard for Security and Safety. This past spring Jeffco unveiled the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety at Martensen Elementary. This is the only school/law enforcement training facility for first responders in the country. (#JeffcoLeads) The revolutionary idea and vision for this facility came from Jeffco’s Executive Director of Security and Emergency Management, John McDonald. http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/frank-deangelis-center-for-community-safety/
These are all exciting things to celebrate. This past year, we were also able to celebrate maintaining 3 good board members (Mitchell, Harmon, and Rupert) in the November 2017 elections, as well as the hiring of our new superintendent, Dr. Jason Glass.
But with our excitement about all this good news, let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are still on a road to recovery. There is still much work to be done to recapture the status Jeffco once had as a leader and front-runner in the state and the nation.
Jeffco faces some serious challenges over the next few years. Of course, so much of that is dependent on funding and since we were unsuccessful in passing the 2016 mill levy override and bond, our district will still struggle to offer competitive salaries, provide adequate mental health support system-wide, provide some important programs for our students, and maintain the 50% of our school buildings/facilities that are now 50 years old or older.
We’ve learned over the years, it shouldn’t take a catastrophe to keep everyone engaged and interested. We hope, by forming Support Jeffco Kids, we are able to keep community members engaged and tuned into what’s happening in our Jeffco Public Schools, and at the district level, as well as public education issues at the state and federal levels. This kind of engagement and involvement is a continuous effort and isn’t easy – or cheap.
I’ll make a shameless plug here to remind readers, Support Jeffco Kids is a non-profit (501c4) and our resources are extremely limited. Every dime spent often comes out of our own pockets or from donations from supporters. We don’t have the luxury of big donors who finance large or elaborate dinner fundraisers.
At SJK, our volunteers and supporters are our greatest resource!
In 2018, I hope we can continue to collaborate to do the work that will need to be done to support our 86,000 students in our Jeffco schools, along with the wonderful and very dedicated staff who share a large part of their day with them. In 2018, let’s all work together to get Jeffco back to its status as a state and national leader.
A Note From Shawna:
I echo everything Jonna wrote above, including my thanks to her for being my best friend and partner in this effort. I prefer to do a lot more behind the computer while she goes to endless meetings to ensure Jeffco has a seat at the table and a voice, everywhere. Thankfully, we also seem to read each other’s minds and know we’ll both be “all in” to whatever one of us commits the organization to doing.
We’ve been asked how much we make by numerous folks and we always laugh. SJK is a true, grassroots, volunteer organization. We pay to volunteer and we do so willingly because we are both passionate about the quality of education Jeffco provides to our students.
Our volunteers are second to none. I’m most grateful for our volunteer coordinators and the many of you who continue to sign up for our service projects, info tables, and share our content. I couldn’t be more grateful for that! Without you, Jeffco would be missing some serious donations and support of organizations that do amazing things for our neediest children.
SJK is run from our hearts, purses, cars, homes, and even strollers and what we have accomplished and continue to do makes an huge impact in Jeffco.
I do want to ask that you all think about the future of Jeffco. I’m quite dismayed to think about Morgan preparing for high school next year (yikes!) and that we haven’t made a dent in funding public education in Colorado. We have districts cutting recess, reduced to a 4 day school week, huge class sizes, buildings falling apart around students and staff, increased safety issues, increased mental health issues, and insufficient resources to fix any of it.
Every time some keyboard cowboy is over on the news sites or anonymous pages on Facebook or Twitter, disparaging our schools and spreading rumors, I am so very sad for our children but I love seeing one of our advocates over there setting the record straight!
I have to remember and want to remind you also, “each other” is all we need and if we are strong enough, we can eventually make the changes we seek for all children.
But, we all have to step up. More. Much more.
- 50th in teacher wage competitiveness—compares teachers to non-teachers with similar education, experience and hours worked (Education Law Center, Great Ed national comparison chart)
- 49th in number of novice teachers in the classroom (Education Week, October 2016)
- 47th in per pupil spending change between 2002-03 and 2012-13 (National Center for Education Statistics)
- 44th in math gap (Ed Week, 2016 Quality Counts, 2013 4th grade NAEP scale score)
- 42nd in per-pupil spending adjusted for regional cost differences (Ed Week, 2016 Quality Counts, 2013 data)
- 42nd in poverty gap (Ed Week, 2016 Quality Counts, 2013 data)
- 41st in pupil-teacher ratio (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15)
- 40th in per pupil spending (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012-13 data, Colorado vs National Per Pupil Spending)
- 39th in reading gap (Ed Week, 2016 Quality Counts, 2013 4th grade NAEP scale score)
- 39th in spending on education adjusted for regional cost differences (Ed Week, 2016 Quality Counts, 2013 data)
- 39th out of the 44 states that provide state support for preschool/ECE. (National Institute for Early Education Research)
Note: The above stats are based on most current information available. Data are lagging indicators due to auditing.
Only Florida reports a higher proportion of novice teachers in the classroom (Education Week, October 2016).
THE GREAT EDUCATION COLORADO INDEX:
- $2,685 Amount below the national average that Colorado spends per pupil (adjusted for regional cost differences) [Ed Week, 2017 Quality Counts]
- $4,511 Amount Colorado spends per pupil below Nebraska (adjusted for regional cost differences) [Ed Week, 2017 Quality Counts]
- $8,019 Amount Colorado spends per pupil below Wyoming (adjusted for regional cost differences) [Ed Week, 2017 Quality Counts]
- $2,157 Amount Colorado spends per pupil below Kansas (adjusted for regional cost differences) [Ed Week, 2017 Quality Counts]
- $1,243 Amount Colorado spends per pupil below New Mexico (adjusted for regional cost differences) [Ed Week, 2017 Quality Counts]
“They say, if you want to know what a community values, look at how its children are treated. If you want a sense of what a community hopes for the future, look at how it values its schools.”
When we invest in public education, we invest in the future.
The future of SJK is YOU. If you don’t Support Jeffco Kids, who will?
So, another shameless plug, if you can make a donation, we’d really, really, really appreciate it!
Make our day, donate to SJK!