Jeffco’s reading proficiency is atrocious. Colorado is essentially mandating the use of approved curriculum and it is a virtual known that high-quality curriculum is a key ingredient in education, yet Matt Flores, Jeffco’s CAO, doesn’t know what curriculum is being used in the District.
That is not the
answer you want to hear from a CAO. In fact, in my opinion, that is
grounds for immediate termination for incompetence and malpractice.
On top of this,
Flores blatantly avoided answering the reporter’s question on when
the District would transition to state approved curriculum.
I would think that
anyone who is even half-way competent would have already planned this
transition/migration and could have easily and instantaneously told
the reporter the answer. Isn’t it reasonable to expect highly paid
executives, responsible for the education of 84,000 kids, to keep up
with the Science and conversations in their profession? Absolutely!
Instead, Jeffco’s students are left with at least another year of being taught with discredited and debunked curriculum harming 1,000s of kids and no one, particularly highly paid and ineffective Matt Flores, will be fired.
Here are the 10 things we learned from the October 7, 2020 Jeffco Board Study Session on the District’s Capital Improvement Program.
None of these things is good!
1. HS Parity – We were told during the Wednesday meeting that one of the goals of the bond program was to achieve High School building parity. Someone might want to tell the staff, parents and students at Pomona, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Green Mountain that. Even after the program finishes, these schools will still have Facility Condition Indexes above 15% while schools such as Bear Creek, Golden, Arvada West and Lakewood will have FCIs below 4%. That’s not parity/equity in my mind. Once again, Jeffco talks equity, but never, ever delivers.
2. Capital Transfer – We learned that in 2 years Jeffco has transferred $41.8M from general funds to the Capital Program and that over the next 3 years another $83.6M will be transferred for a total of $125.4M.
But, Steve Bell made that sound worse by stating that only $120M in total would be transferred over 6 years.
Jeffco voters were promised $23M/year would be transferred for a total 6 year transfer of $138M.
This is now an expected shortfall of $12.6M. This shortfall will need to be made up by either allocating contingency or reducing project scope. I don’t even think that the Board is aware of this shortfall at this point. Bell and Reed will use Wednesday’s presentation to say that they informed the Board, but this is a pretty weak argument. In reality, it was the CFO’s job to ensure that 2019-20 and 2020-21 budgets presented to the Board of Education included transfers of this promised money, OR, to inform the Board of Education of this shortfall. The former CFO Kathleen Askelson failed to do either. She failed in her fiduciary responsibilities to both taxpayers and the Board. It’s no wonder she suddenly decided to leave Jeffco. Once this came to light she should have been fired.
3. 19M Projects – During the meeting Reed casually mentioned that $9.5M worth of projects were transferred from the District’s 19M facilities maintenance program to the Bond program because they were ready to go and it would assist in meeting the arbitrage requirements of the bond.
What he failed to say was that these projects were funded straight from the contingency of the Capital Improvement Program and that this was in reality an increase of scope. Complete and utter deception on the part of Reed and Bell.
4. Missing $41M – $41M is missing from Bell and Reed’s presentation. Where is that money? Jeffco voters were told that the program came with $86M in contingency built into it (see image above). $50M was added through bond premium and another $12M added through interest.
That’s a total of $148M above and beyond the $563M in project cost estimates presented to voters. Reed and Bell told the Board that they are carrying $107M in program contingency.
In that case, where did $41M go?
$ 86M in
contingency presented in original Flipbook
+$ 50M in bond
+$ 12M in interest
=$148M total available above cost estimates
– $107M in stated
=$ 41M missing
5. % of contingency usage – Bell told the Board that $68M in contingency has been spent (video above). That contingency was spent during the completion of $264M ($332 expended and encumbered from Board docs – $68M in contingency used) in project work. Since there is (now) $594M in total work that needs to be completed for the program that means 44% of the total program work has been done against 64% of the total contingency ($68M of $107M in total contingency). At the current rate, available contingency will be used before all projects are completed and scope will have to be reduced. Calculated a different way, continuing to use contingency at the current rate would mean that Jeffco needs $153M in total contingency, $46M more than what is currently allocated. This is not a good position to be in.
6. Construction increases – We learned that there are several Board member apologists who want to blame inflation and the length of the program (6 years) for cost overruns. I don’t agree with that. A timeline for project work was clearly laid out in the Flipbook. District staff knew when projects would be worked on and SHOULD have incorporated inflation based increases into their cost estimates. If they didn’t do that, then they are incompetent and should be fired, not given a free pass as Rupert and Mitchell want to do. Besides, Jeffco is only 2 years into the program. Inflation based cost increases shouldn’t be responsible for over $68M in cost increases at this point.
7. Contingency use between May and September – In May Reed told the Board that there was $57M in remaining contingency.
Since that time the Board has approved approx. $11M in contingency usage, mostly at Alameda. Now, Reed is now telling the Board that there is only $37M in contingency remaining. What did that additional $9M in contingency get used for in such a short period of time? Where did it go in only a few short months without Board knowledge?
8. Questions about use of $50M bond premium – The bond premium was a bonus. In my mind, it should be used to provide real value to the taxpayers. During the meeting Reed told the Board that to get the total bond package down to something reasonable for taxpayers for the 2018 vote they had to remove two replacement schools.
Now, when Jeffco received bond premium, why did $50M just get consumed to pay for added contingency? Why weren’t 2 replacement schools added into the program? This is pure mismanagement and an atrocious use of taxpayer money. People should be fired for using $50M this way!
9. Where was the Citizens Capital Asset Advisory Committee? Members of the CAAC were supposed to be at the meeting to answer questions regarding their oversight and monitoring of the program. They are definitely aware (here and here) of the depth and degree of the $100M in cost overruns to date. It is suspicious that at the last moment they decided not to show up.
10. Board President Harmon and Directors Rupert and Mitchell will go to great lengths to cover-up waste and mismanagement and protect the District from criticism or scrutiny. When Director Miller brought up questionable practices regarding the use of the $50M bond premium, instead of addressing that issue first, Harmon attacked Director Miller and then Rupert and Mitchell went into a full on defense of the District. It’s not their money, so why should they care?
study session was enlightening, to say the least. It raised, and
never answered, numerous questions regarding the management of a $3/4
Billion Capital Improvement Program. The degree of deception on the
parts of Reed and Bell is just unbelievable.
The Program is a
disaster – way over budget and heading further in that direction.
That is not how you get taxpayers to approve your next bond request.
It is clearly evident that, as promised to taxpayers, a full and complete performance audit on the program must be conducted immediately!
The Board of Education’s Bond Revenue Sharing Resolution clearly states that “the Board of Education will allocate a percentage of the bond proceeds equal to the percentage of full-time district students enrolled in district-authorized charter schools”.
A reasonable person would have read this resolution at face value and come to the conclusion that the percentage would have been calculated based on the count of full-time enrolled Charter students divided by the count of total full-time enrolled District students. In fact, a spreadsheet presented to Charter schools (attached) to show how the distributions were calculated clearly displayed the following text referring to FTE (Full time Equivalent) in 2 locations:
1. Official Oct 1
2. Note: October 1,
2018 Official FTE count (audited)
Yet, the District did not use FTE numbers. In its calculations, the District actually used the state calculated Funded Student Count numbers for total District student count number, which is higher. This effectively increases the denominator for the percentage calculation and reduces the Charters’ shares. State Funded student count numbers are higher because, in an environment of decreasing student enrollment, the state reduces impact of revenue decreases by computing a 5 year average of student enrollment. For the school year 2018-2019 this increased the total District funded student count number by 1,397 and resulted in a loss of nearly $1M to Charter schools.
Not only did the
District perpetrate this loss of agreed upon revenue to District
Charters, but they
campaigned very hard for a Bond that barely passed. How short-sighted
is it of Jeffco to not see this? I doubt Charter parents will be as
willing to expend as much effort and energy the next time Jeffco
wants to pass a bond when Charters will know that Jeffco will be out
to take advantage of them.
Jason Glass and
Jeffco Schools promised transparency when they put a $567M Bond to
the vote of taxpayers in 2018.
To great fanfare, Glass rolled out what was called a Flipbook that explained sources of revenue for the District’s 6 year Capital Improvement Program and exactly how much would be spent at each school.
There was one big problem though. The Flipbook did NOT show where nearly $17M in bond proceeds would be used. I even wrote about it in October 2018 – http://improvejeffcoschools.org/index.php/2018/10/ A year and a half later, through CORA requests, I’ve been able to piece together the uses of that $17M, now blossomed to over $19M, in spending:
North Transportation-Joyce Renovation
581 Conference Place Reopen
Mount Evans OELS Efficiency
Windy Peaks OELS Efficiency
Anderson Preschool Efficiency
Irwin Preschool Efficiency
Free Horizon Montessori
Litz Preschool Efficiency
North Transportation-Site Acquisition
In looking at this
list, one can only guess at why these projects were not shown to
taxpayers – most are not directly related to schools. Trailblazer
stadium, North Transportation Site, 581 Conference Place – these
are not projects that would have encouraged me to vote Yes on the
Even when asked a
question on his much touted Jeffco Generations Facebook page, Glass
failed to answer a question regarding the missing projects.
And, the most egregious thing was that shortly after the Bond was approved by taxpayers the Flipbook was quietly updated. Cost estimates increased from $563M to $594M, an increase of $31M in cost estimates.
Here are several examples of how project costs changed (you can see the complete list here):
Patterson International ES
West Jefferson Middle School
Not only is there not a corresponding increase in revenue to fund these increases, but the impact of the changes turns out to be extremely important in the on-going deception of hiding the degree of cost overruns, which I will discuss in a future post.
The deception to
taxpayers regarding 5B funding and projects started early and appears
to be well thought out – not something that should be done if
Jeffco wants to get another Bond approved in the future.
assessment results for Jeffco Schools became available last year
there was a great deal of consternation. Achievement was down pretty
much across the board and more importantly growth for the District
was below the state average. A scramble was made to provide teachers
with more planning time. Even though this was the second year of
declining results under Glass, Deputy Superintendent Kris Schuh told
the Board that this dip was anticipated due to moving to a focus on
transforming the task and Deeper Learning.
We can compare the
yearly Winter MAP results to get an excellent idea of the direction
the District’s students were headed in 2019-20 before Covid and
whether the additional teacher planning time and the emphasis on
transforming the task and Deeper Learning were having positive
Comparing the percentage of Jeffco students who Met or Exceeded Exceeded Standards from Winter 2018-19 to Winter 2019-20 we can see that the highly touted teacher planning time and continued emphasis on transforming the task were not working.
Essentially, Glass was failing in his most important responsibility – improving education in Jeffco.
this was the 3rd straight year that Jeffco Winter MAP
results went in a downward direction, for both Reading and Math under
Is it any wonder
that Glass beat feet out of Jeffco? Winter 2019-20 results should
have been available in January and he would have known these before
applying to be Kentucky Ed Commissioner. It also makes me suspicious
why, unlike every year in the past, Winter MAP results were not
presented to the Board of Education in January or February. Was this
an act of intentional deception that no one wanted to be accountable
It is clear from
these charts that Jason Glass did a massive amount of damage to
Jeffco’s kids. Even without the additional impacts from Covid, it
will take years to stop this slide and get Jeffco headed in the right
Complicit in this
damage is Jeffco’s Board of Education. Current members Susan
Harmon, Brad Rupert and Ron Mitchell were members of the Board when
they hired Glass, without any record of improving education.
I hope these Board
members realize how many kids’ they permanently harmed with the
Glass hire and that they learned from this mistake when hiring the
Jeffco is fortunate
that Glass left when he did as there is no end in sight to Jeffco’s
continuing downward spiral.
Glass was a complete failure in Jeffco.
The damage he did was real and will be extremely difficult to correct.
In 2018, Jeffco’s 5B Bond request for $567M ballot language included ‘spending of the proceeds of such debt to be monitored by the citizen’s Capital Asset Advisory Committee’.
later, with $70M in contingency already spent and initial cost
estimates increased by an additional $30M, the Capital Asset Advisory
Committee is failing in its task of monitoring of the bond proceeds.
as a whole, have failed to be good stewards of our tax money. They have unquestioningly and nonchalantly allowed Jeffco Schools to add $50M of bond premium into a contingency slush fund, meaning that program contingency increased from an already robust $86M to an exorbitant $136M. And, they have seen an additional $11M in interest added to that same contingency for an obscene total of $146M.
As a voter I heard Jeffco Schools routinely tell taxpayers that the District had $1.3B in facilities needs. The Bond was going to be used to address only $563M of those total needs. Yet, when the District had a windfall of $50M, instead of using that to address additional needs or even replace several additional aging elementary schools, the CAAC blindly went along with the District’s overspending and allowed this money to be put into the massive contingency slush fund.
Instead of using this money wisely, it seems like the District and CAAC are going to rely on taxpayers to pass a new bond in a few years to address facilities needs that are only going to get worse.
This is just
atrocious monitoring on the part of the CAAC. Jeffco taxpayers were
misled by the District’s ballot language and the reasonable
expectation that our fellow taxpayers would monitor the bond money
like it was their own. It is painfully obvious now, that once on the
committee our fellow taxpayers view taxpayer money as funny money.
Shame on them.
routinely complain about lack of funding. Yet, why should taxpayers
increase that funding when Districts, and particularly Jeffco, are
such poor stewards of that money?
At this rate, and
with this level of District program management incompetence, it may
be a long time before another Bond issue is approved in Jeffco and
members of the CAAC will share in some of that blame.
With Denver Public
Schools just announcing a start to the school year in full Remote
Learning, we can believe that Glass will follow and announce the same
within the next few days for Jeffco. This will be mere days after
Glass’s disastorous FB Live event in which no actual questions
regarding the District’s restart plan were answered.
In fact, in the 40 minutes of the FB Live event, Remote Learning and academics were not mentioned once. The restart plan itself merely contains several pages of vague eduspeak and is actually tellingly shorter than the Communications plan.
It’s just a plain dereliction of responsibility and an avoidance of accountability that the Plan is so vague and includes no specifics.
Remote Learning, in
some form, was always going to happen this Fall. A failure to provide
specifics in the Plan is a truly appalling lack of leadership.
Going forward, Glass should be required to immediately and definitively answer the following questions:
By what date will EVERY Jeffco student have at-residence access to their own electronic device? The only acceptable answer would be within the first week of class.
By what date will EVERY Jeffco student have at-residence internet connectivity. The only acceptable answer would be within the first week of class. Did the IT Department work on alternatives during the summer such as bus or school building roof hot spots as many other districts have done?
Will teachers be required to deliver Remote Learning from their classrooms for accountability purposes? If not, why not?
Given that school will start a week late, should we continue to expect 5 days of instruction weekly? If not, why not and what impact on students will reduced class time have on students?
When will beginning of year assessments be administered to ascertain how much learning was lost during the spring’s failed experiment in Remote Learning?
Will student attendance be measured in a different manner than in the spring? If not, why not?
How will teachers be held accountable for their instruction?
How, specifically, will best practices be shared? Will best practice sharing be limited to tool usage or will sharing/instruction on proven Remote Learning techniques be mandatory?
What guidelines will teachers be given relating to Remote Learning? Will there be Synchronous teaching requirements? If not, why not?
How will students be held accountable for Remote Learning?
What are the specific plans to make up for the spring learning loss?
Will anything be done to improve the Grab-and-Go meal distribution to ensure more students and families receive meals?
How long will non-working Classified staff be paid full wages if Remote Learning extends beyond just a few weeks?
If the school year starts with Remote Learning for all, why didn’t the District fall back on the K-5 in school option previously presented?
It’s well past
time for the eduspeak and vague ‘plans’ for how things will work
this fall. Remote Learning was always going to be given. At this
point, Glass and staff should be able to provide details and
extremely specific plans. If he can’t do that the Board should
execute their responsibility of ensuring quality education and get
rid of him immediately. They should put someone in charge who will
actually get something done while there is still time to make an
know that isn’t going to happen because the Board is
extraordinarily weak and unwilling to ask the hard questions. In the
end, thousands and thousands of students will be permanently harmed
because of the incompetence of Jason Glass and the Board’s
Nearly a week after
the release of his horrendous Restart Plan and at a crucial time for
parents and teachers to make decisions about what the coming school
year will look for them, Glass is missing.
comments, most with Restart Plan questions, on 2 Jeffco School
Facebook posts and not a peep from Glass. Even worse, there has
barely been a response from the district on those posts and
and teachers need answers, yet there is nothing but silence and now a
hurriedly organized Facebook Live event.
This is not
The District needs
answers and needs assurances, but the community is getting neither.
This is the epitome
of terrible leadership!
We all know the
answer to the question of where Jason Glass is. He’s in Kentucky.
And, that leaves 84,000 students and 14,000 employees in a very bad
place, but why should he care? He just got his ‘dream’ job.
Glass can call it
what he wants, an “opportunity to come home”, but mere days into
the start of a 5 year contract extension, I call it something else –
a complete lack of integrity and a total betrayal of Jeffco and the
Board members who gave him that contract extension.
As much as I think
that Glass is an extraordinarily weak leader, this move goes far
beyond weak leadership – this move is downright disgusting.
Think about it. Glass left Jeffco at a crucial time in implementing his Covid Restart plan and at a time in the year when it is extremely difficult to ensure that high quality candidates to fill the position would be willing or even available for interviews.
What type of person,
if they really cared about an organization, its employees and most
importantly its students would just pick up and leave at this
critical time after the Board had done everything within its power to
provide continuity for the next 5 years?
who is self-centered. Someone who doesn’t really care about the
damage that their move might cause. Maybe someone who doesn’t think
they can really succeed in the position. In any case, its someone I’m
glad I’m not. I’ve been in positions before where I hadn’t
finished projects I was leading, or hadn’t finished the
transformation of an organization to my standards and turned down
more lucrative and exciting opportunities. Not only did I want to get
the sense of accomplishment for what I set out to do, but I felt an
obligation to the organization and my people. I guess that’s the
difference between Glass and me. I’m glad I don’t have the same
set of values and integrity he has.
And, where does that
leave Jeffco’s 84,000+ students and 5,000+ employees? Essentially
leaderless for a year. Another year with no academic gains and then a
transition year with a new Superintendent, who most likely isn’t
going to buy into the Transform the Task, Deeper Learning mumbo-jumbo
that so far has only brought about confusion and declining results in
the District. So, another change in direction as 1,000s of kids
continue to be harmed each year by the poor curriculum and teaching
methods propagated by Glass.
The Board needs to
get it right with the next choice for Superintendent. We need someone
who has a track record of focusing on students, not teachers, and a
record of improving education, backed by results. Glass was a great
talker and blogger, but his 6 year record of failing to improve
education results in both Eagle and Jeffco is a total disaster for
obviously put considerable thought and effort into their plan, while
Glass’s plan is just incredibly weak.
The level of detail in the Broward County plan is quite impressive. You can tell that a lot of effort has been put into it and many, many viewpoints have been considered. I particularly like the fact that Broward is using Wednesdays to clean schools, not the Fridays in Glass’s plan.
The same can’t be said for the Jeffco plan. The differences are painfully obvious. It just looks like a minimal amount of effort has been expended in comparison. You just don’t get the same level of confidence.
Regarding budgets, once again there is significantly more detail in Denver’s than in Jeffco’s, especially with regards to future impacts. In addition, on pages 433 – 46, Denver discusses use of Federal Covid Relief Funds, in detail ($28M – $52M). In Jeffco, Askelson and Glass are attempting to tell the Board that they only need $5.5M in additional Covid-19 funding AND are attempting to circumvent the federal restrictions on those monies (COVID related and spent by end of calendar year). Way too little thought has gone into something way too important.
It’s time to admit what Jeffco got and didn’t get with Jason Glass. We got a blogger, talker and tweeter. We didn’t get someone who could plan, who understands finances or could move the academic performance needle. That’s a shame.
What’s worse is
that the Board extended his contract for 5 years, meaning 1,000s more
kids will be harmed by his extraordinarily weak leadership and his
feeble attempts at getting an 84,000 student school district to
implement nice sounding educational theories that have not been
proven effective anywhere.