We recently received a copy of this letter as well. We appreciate the sentiment and agree with thanking Directors Dahlkemper and Fellman for their work.
Dear Members of the Board of Education of Jefferson County:
I am writing to applaud Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman for standing up to Mr. Witt, Mr. Newkirk and Ms. Williams at last week’s special meeting of the Jeffco Board of Education by voting against holding an Executive Session. While Executive Sessions are a necessary part of the governance process of an entire school district, their use should be extremely judicious.
In this particular case, I can understand the three-member majority’s interest in having discussion’s take place in Executive Session, as permitted by Colorado law. However, I believe that it was not only appropriate to have open discussions, on the record, I also believe that it was a wise decision.
Over the last two years, the Board of Education made “promises” to the teachers in Jeffco – help us through the budget crisis, and we will make it up to you when the economy rebounds and we have additional money. Teachers partnered with the district to ensure that there was the least amount of negative impact on the classrooms as possible, with the tremendous cuts that needed to be made.
Now that the legislature is looking to restore some funding, the new Board has made a decision not to fulfill the promises made to the teachers. Rather than allocate funds as more than 13,000 members of the community suggested (to full-day Kindergarten and appropriate teacher compensation), the three-member majority has decided to provide millions of dollars of funding to 14 charter schools. On average, that is $265K per school – that’s a whole lot of money with no strings attached. As a result of this (and many other actions taken by the three-member majority), there are many non-teacher members of the public who are dissatisfied with the direction in which this new Board is taking Jeffco.
Ms. Dahlkemper and Ms. Fellman’s decision to hold open discussions regarding how to proceed with union negotiations at an impasse was bold. It sends a message to the citizens that at least two members of the Board are concerned with the transparency that you all purport to support. It allows the citizens of Jeffco to understand precisely what is going on with union negotiations, and at the same time discounts the propaganda that Mr. Witt is propounding in the press, blaming the impasse on recalcitrant union representatives. It is at least encouraging to see that two members of the Board take seriously their fiduciary obligations. Brava, ladies.
Wendy R McCord