A different perspective on the current state of Jeffco schools

Month: April 2020

The Jeffco Schools CFO is either Incompetent or Trying to Hide Something

It is simply not true when the Jeffco CFO tells the Board that an anticipated loss of 350 students will result in a loss of $3M in revenue or $8,571 per student.

This statement is predicated on 2 assumptions:

1. That all revenue the District receives is based on student count

2. That a loss of students results in an immediate loss of revenue

Neither of those two assumptions is true.

1. Only state revenue to the District is based on student count. Local property tax and ownership tax receipts to the District are NOT based on student count. The District will get the same amount of revenue no matter the student count from local property taxes and ownership taxes. Only approximately $380M of funding comes from the state which means the state funds only $4,700 per student. Therefore, the only revenue loss would be a maximum of $1.7M, NOT $3M.

2. However, Colorado mitigates the loss of revenue due to loss of students by basing District funding on the 5 year average of student count if student count declines. Therefore, when a District loses students, the real first year loss of state funding is only 1/5 of the actual student loss count. In this case 70 students or approximately $350,000, in the first year – 2020-2021. That’s a far cry from $3M that Askelson is telling the Board.

Finally, Askelson’s gloom and doom presentation also only shows one side of the Accounting ledger. Her presentation is based on the assumption that a loss of revenue results in absolutely ZERO reduction in costs. Again, this is a false assumption. Individual schools are ‘paid’ by the District on a per student basis via SBB funding. At approximately $5,500 per student for SBB (page 24 of Budget) and a loss of 350 students, the District’s expenses are reduced by approximately $1.9M.

In conclusion, instead of a $3M loss of revenue, Jeffco, in Year 1, only loses approx. $350,000 in state revenue but also has a corresponding cost reduction of $1.9M, for a net positive impact of $1.5M. Taking into account that Askelson told the Board they would be losing $3M the difference is $4.5M, or more than enough to prevent a furlough day, or prevent the closing of schools.

Brag Tweet Once You Have Something to Brag About – Jeffco

On April 2, 2020, Tammy Schiff, the Chief Communications Officer of Jeffco Schools, brag Tweeted that Jeffco Schools was serving 13.000 meals a day to kids. In the context of the Tweet, that sounds like a large number, something to be proud of.

However, there’s much more to the story.

First of all, those 13,000 meals consisted of breakfast and lunch for 2 days, in essence 4 meals per person. That means that Jeffco schools was only serving about 3,300 students a day.

Yet, Jeffco has approximately 25,000 Free and Reduced Lunch students in the District. That means Jeffco is really only serving about 12% of the eligible FRL population.

I don’t think that is something to be especially proud of.

I think that Jeffco can do better in getting meals into the hands of the kids who need them.

Here’s a suggestion: Make the meals easier to get for kids and families who might have transportation problems. Ramp up meal production, either at the current facilities or by opening more. Then use District buses, and currently being paid idle drivers, to take meals to each school complex in the District for distribution. And, if this hasn’t happened already, ensure that each kid’s parents are personally contacted to make them aware of this.

Once the District implements this, then Tammy will be able to Tweet that every kid’s parents were personally contacted, meals are more widely available and in all likelihood, she’ll have an even bigger number to talk about.

Set an example for other Districts to follow.

Note: After initially writing this, Denver Public Schools implemented something similar. Denver now has 60 distribution points, many mobile from buses. Jeffco has a mere 12.