Why doesn’t the Jeffco School Board want collaboration in developing a plan for sustainable funding for the District’s HS GT program?

Despite a public proclamation regarding finding a collaborative sustainable funding solution for the District’s HS GT program at Wheat Ridge during the February 9th Board budget reduction Meeting, the District’s and Board’s actions since that time have been anything but collaborative.

Repeated emails to the Board and public comments at the past 2 Board Meetings requesting formation of a collaborative committee that included ALL stakeholders have been met with STONE COLD SILENCE! Since this has now been on-going for over 2 months, it leads one to believe that the Board and District staff have something to hide.

What the District is trying to hide finally came to light in a response to a letter from the GT parents from Kevin Carroll, the District’s Chief Student Success Officer. In discussing his Board directed conversation with the Wheat Ridge principal, Mr. Carroll wrote, speaking of funding after 2017-2018:

“Beyond that point, if the program is to continue at Wheat Ridge High School, it will do so leveraging the Student Based Budgeting (SBB) dollars that come with each of these students.”

“Our initial conversations this spring are not related to seeking alternative funding sources outside of SBB (Student Based Budgeting) dollars, but instead discussing current scheduling, staffing, and funding structures within the SBB framework, as was directed by the BoE.”

Unfortunately, this is an Alternative Fact created by Mr. Carroll. The Board did NOT direct sustainable funding come solely from SBB, as Board Member Amanda Stevens clearly stated on February 9th (summarized at: http://jeffcoschoolboardwatch.org/?p=4357):

Stevens: I’d like to revisit the GT issue and request that it be a shared cost model that isn’t requiring 100 percent school dollars or 100 percent district dollars. Says she wants to make sure that it doesn’t become a one or the other, where the program might get pulled out of WRHS and sent elsewhere if WRHS decides its SBB dollars aren’t sufficient to make it fully self-funding next year.

Mr. Carroll is clearly not following the direction of the Board and doesn’t seem interested in collaboratively attempting to find a solution with ALL of the stakeholders.

This is quite shocking since as Chief Student Success Officer, he oversees the District’s GT programs and is the person you would most expect to actually be leading the effort to do everything possible to support an indisputably highly successful and life-changing program. Yet, he is doing just the opposite – doing everything possible to cut funding. This is not the type of District staff leadership Jeffco needs or should want.

So, here’s one more public plea for the Board and School District to show the leadership the students and taxpayers deserve. Either the interim Superintendent should form, or the Board should direct the interim Superintendent to form, a committee with representatives from ALL of the stakeholders so that a full and open discussion of ALL of the issues (some of which are identified here: http://yourhub.denverpost.com/blog/2017/04/incompetent-management-in-jeffco-the-case-of-high-school-staffing/179765/) can take place. This should be followed by a public report back to the Board. This committee should include at least the following members:

  • Kathleen Askelson, Finance, Chair
  • Kevin Carroll, Chief Student Success Officer (oversees District GT programs)
  • Griff Wirth, Wheat Ridge HS Principal
  • One of the District’s HS GT Teachers
  • One member of the Wheat Ridge HS School Accountability Committee
  • One HS GT parent representative

If this committee is not formed in fulfillment of the Board’s desire for a collaborative solution, we can only believe that there really is something to hide. We can also believe that the Board is willing to say one thing in a public meeting but, through a total lack of leadership and opaqueness, allow something completely different to transpire behind the scenes. That’s not leadership, and it is a betrayal of the taxpayers’ trust.

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