Misleading Jeffco School Board Election Information
Ballots have been mailed for the school board elections and they must be dropped off by 7:00pm on November 7th. The incumbents are utilizing the strategy that got them elected in the first place — they are spreading false claims and are misleading community members and voters of Jefferson County.
In 2015, We Were all Deceived
Two years ago, we, i.e. community members, parents, teachers and students, were all misled during the recall. We were told by recall leaders that is was a “grassroots” effort. After the election, Jeffco United for Action, the organization which did most of the recall messaging was ordered by the court system to disclose its donors and 99% of donations, nearly $300,000 was from unions and only $3,114 from community members. We know teachers, as well as all community members where disheartened by the lack of integrity displayed by union leaders during the 2015 recall.
Even more disheartening, the information on the ballot — yes, the ballot that we, as voters use to make our decisions, was also full of false information. And there is more, now union leaders lead national training seminars on their “comprehensive two-year plan to recall the school board” based off their success in Jeffco. We were duped not once, but twice; the ballots were full of false information and the union leaders lied about their involvement in the recall. Now we find the incumbent school board candidates have spent the majority of their campaign funds so far with the very same company that was behind the recall lies. I do not want this dishonesty in our school leadership. I teach my children to be honest and I expect the adults influencing 86,000 students, parents and community members to be honest as well. I want to be able to trust the board members I vote for, and in this case, I cannot trust the incumbents.
I want board members that will be honest and put STUDENTS AHEAD OF POLITICS.
Instead, I received a brochure for the incumbent candidates filled with false statements.
2017 Campaign FALSE Claims:
1. Making Sure our Graduates are Ready for College
First False claim, current board incumbent candidates claim they are “making sure our graduates are ready for college”. Last year, graduation rates in Jeffco dropped vs. prior year per the Colorado Department of Education. Note that graduate rates increased nearly 2% under prior board.
In addition, per 2016 ACT scores, 7 out of 10, 11th graders FAILED to meet all four college and career benchmarks. 6 out of 10 11th graders FAILED to meet all three career and college benchmarks on the 2017 SAT. While the ACT and SAT scores appears to have improved, the SAT does not include Science, one of Jeffco’s weakest performance categories. (CMAS Scores: percent of children NOT meeting Science standards: 5th grade: 58%, 8th grade: 60%, 11th grade: 65%.)
College Remedial Rates
Lastly, college remedial rates are moving towards 30%.
So no, the current board is not making sure our graduates are ready for college
2. Stopping the Mass Exodus of Teachers
Second claim, “they are stopping the mass exodus of teachers”. Per the CDE, the 2015/16 school year, teacher turnover rate was 13.48% and the teacher turnover rate in 2016/17 school year was 14.39%. That nearly a 7% increase in the number of teachers leaving Jeffco. This is after receiving $10 million in bonuses and $25 million in salary increases.
So no, the current board is NOT retaining teachers
3. Brought Transparency Back to Board Room
Third False claim is they “brought transparency back to the board room”, I disagree:
· Recently, the new superintendent’s evaluation was conducted behind closed doors. For reference, the prior superintendent Mr. McMinemee had his reviews during regular board meeting sessions so all community members could get an update as well
· The incumbent school board candidates added $78 million in debt without voter approval
· They surprised 5 communities in January of 2017 threatening school closures and announced they would close a Title 1 school, serving low income students less than 30 day later
· Had behind closed doors meeting with union regarding 6th grade move. I find it interesting that they say there was no negotiating and yet they are going to pay $500 to teachers who tell them in December they are going to leave. Proposition 104 that was passed in 2014 requires negotiations to be done in public, clearly the incumbent school board candidates did not follow the law.
· These same folks asked voters to pass a mill and bond increase that would have cost nearly a Billion-Dollar’s to pay back. There was less than 2–1/2 months of community engagement, and three quarters of the meetings were held after school was out for the summer, therefore there was minimal participation from parents. There was minimal engagement with business owners who would have also been impacted.
· Part of the defeated bond package was forcing 6th graders out of elementary schools and into middle schools. Voters rejected idea of moving 6th graders to middle school and of the barely 2000 community survey responders, half did not support the move. Previous school boards had spent nearly 12 months engaging with community members regarding moving 6th graders to middle school and the community was clearly against it.
So no, the current board has NOT brought Transparency back to the Board Room
4. Provide seats for the children coming to Jeffco
Fourth False claim, “provide seats for the children coming to Jeffco”. This board is spending $50 million to move 6th graders to middle school instead of building the new elementary schools that are needed in high growth areas like Leyden Rock and Rooney Valley. Enrollment has been stagnant over last 10 years in Jeffco. Any yet Jeffco already has over 15,000 empty classroom seats. Only one area is projected to have growth and the previous school board identified that and started feasibility studies of new school and school additions.
Growth In Jeffco: Articulation areas with projected growth
*Does not include 800 new seats added at Three Creeks K-8
** No data, Addition of new Charters are decided by the School Board
The new Three Creeks building project was initiated by previous board, Jeffco staff executed the plan. Jeffco has plenty of empty classroom seats waiting to be filled.
5. Ensure every student has an equal opportunity
Ensure every student has an equal opportunity for a great education, regardless of their zip code, background, or family circumstances
· 50% of all Jeffco students in 3rd — 9th grades, taking grade level exams, don’t meet grade level expectations in math or English Language Arts. For minority students 75% don’t meet grade level standards. That means these students are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school.
· Current board closed Pleasant View elementary, serving low income students.
· Great Works Montessori, a new charter school serving low income students, was denied approval 2 times, only approved because they feared the state would make Jeffco accept the charter.
· Threatened to close or move GT program at Wheat Ridge High School, the only program of its kind in Jeffco and only provided one year’s worth of funding.
· Failed to add support of ASD students in middle schools, which will get worse as 6th graders in ASD center programs move to middle school where there are no ASD center programs.
· Have No plan for meeting the needs of Title One 6th graders who receive extra supports in elementary schools but will move to non-Title One middle schools and will lose supports such at literacy coaches and math tutors.
· Current board has yet to address achievement gap between minority and non-minority students.
· Failed to set any student achievement goals these last 2 years.
So no, the current board has NOT given equal opportunities to students
Are we really on a path of Great Success?
The brochure finished with asking for support to “continue their path toward greater success”. Do you really think we are successful when 50% of 3rd graders do not meet reading or math standards while the district spends a billion-dollars each year? Do you really think we are successful when 7 out of 10 11th graders failed to meet career and college ready benchmarks on the 2016 ACT? Do you really think we are on a path to greatness when we spend nearly a billion dollars a year and yet the Superintendent has ZERO achievement goals?
If you see through the platitudes please,
Vote for Erica Shields and Matt Van Gieson.
· Represent the many unheard voices in Jeffco leading to balanced discussions on the school board
· Ask the hard questions to dig deeper into issues
· Address low student achievement in Jeffco and set achievement goals for district and superintendent
· Slow down moving 6th graders to middle school to allow for robust community engagement and determine if it really is best for students not just “to spend $50 Million”
· Do not support closing small schools
Please return your ballot before 7:00pm on November 7th!