A different perspective on the current state of Jeffco schools

Category: Jeffco Public Schools (Page 1 of 5)

10 Reasons Jeffco Schools Capital Improvement Program Needs a Performance Audit

1. $57M over budget. On its own, a program that is $57M over budget less than 2 years into a 6 year plan should automatically trigger a Performance Audit. Just to recap, voters were told the Capital Improvement Program would cost $705M. At the CAAC’s last meeting in November, it had a $762,179,035 price tag.

2. Projected $32M Contingency Shortfall. At the October 7th Board Study Session, Tim Reed told the Board that $68M in contingency had been used to date.

At the CAAC’s November meeting Tim presented the following numbers for funds Expended and Encumbered, totaling $341M.

Subtracting the $68M of contingency from this value means that $273M of the $595M in total program costs are currently Expended or Encumbered, leaving $322M in remaining projects. If that same rate of contingency usage continues, that would require remaining contingency of over $79M. Yet, there is only $47M in contingency remaining, a $32M shortfall.

Expended as of Oct 31, 2020 $224,271,805
Encumbered as of Oct 31, 2020 +$117,596,928
Total Expended & Encumbered =$341,868,733

Less Contingency Used to date -$ 68,000,000
Project Work Encumbered or Expended =$273,868,733

Contingency usage rate ($68M/$273M) 24.83%

Remaining Project Work ($595M – $273M) $321,113,267
Projected Contingency Required ($321,113,267 * .2483) $ 79,736,893
Less Contingency Remaining as of Oct 31, 2020 -$ 46,892,780
Projected Contingency Shortfall $ 32,844,113

Total Projected Contingency Usage ($68M + $80M) $147,736,893

Do the math. The numbers don’t lie. This is not a healthy Program.

3. Deceptively adding $31M to Flipbook costs. District project costs were presented to voters as $563M. You can arrive at that number by subtracting the Charters $56M and the Contingency $86M from the Flipbook presentation.

This can be verified by adding the costs of individual projects in the original Flipbook (Plus approx. $17M in costs for Trailblazer, North Transportation Hub, OELS and Preschools projects which were withheld from voters).

However, sometime after the Bond passed, the District changed the Flipbook. The cost of nearly every project increased. Here are some examples:

Alameda HS – an increase of $1,430,902 to $19,434,000

Green Mountain HS – an increase of $754,078 to $14,361,000

Jefferson Jr/Sr HS – an increase of $672,810 to $14,129,000

This had the net effect of raising BASE costs by a total of $31,967,419. Essentially hiding $31M of cost increases.

For example, when the construction budget for Alameda was presented to the Board, contingency usage of $10,047,814 was based on the updated Base cost of $19,433,745, instead of the original cost estimate of $18,033,098. This usage of the revised cost estimate deceptively hid the totality of the increase, and the additional use of Contingency, of $1,430,902.

Therefore, cost estimates for all projects have now increased by $100M; the $68M in Contingency that Tim Reed freely told the Board PLUS the $31M in hidden cost estimate increases.

4. Failure to Share Bond Premium with Charter Schools. As recently as of the end of October, the District still had not shared Bond Premium with Charter schools, in violation of the Board’s October 2018 Sharing Resolution. The District spreadsheet widely circulated to Charter Schools show that the District only calculated sharing revenue based on the Bond par of $567M.

Yet, at the November 11th Board Study Session, Steve Bell told the Board that Bond Premium is shared with Charters.

Therefore, at this point, Charters are owed approximately $4.6M, PLUS interest – which will subsequently reduce the Contingency available for District projects by a corresponding amount.

Brian Ballard, Chair of the District’s Financial Oversight Committee, has said that it is the CAAC that has responsibility for overseeing 5B Bond funds. If that is the case, why hasn’t the CAAC ensured that District Charters have been given their complete share of the funds?

5. Out of Scope Projects. There are multiple projects that can be identified that were not in the scope presented to voters. Several easily identifiable, high-cost projects include: Ralston Valley HS Roof, Lakewood HS Track, West Jefferson MS Track, etc. The following images were taken from the Original Flipbook presented to voters and clearly do not show these projects.

Was there any discussion relating to the addition of scope and reduction of contingency for these and other added scope projects? What was involved with this process? Were these prioritized over replacement schools? Was there a vote?

6. Deceptively Hiding the True Cost of Alameda HS Cost Overruns. Similar to Jefferson Jr/Sr HS, Alameda HS is slated for Track and Field Upgrades. When the Jefferson project was submitted to the Board for approval, the Track and Field upgrades were included in the project costs and subtracted from the remaining budget.

This was not the case when Alameda was presented to the Board. The cost for the Track and Field upgrades were left off of the presented costs, effectively deceiving the Board that total overages are at least $1.5M over what was shown. Was that intentional deception, or merely incompetence?

7. Recent Large Underspend on FF&E Projects. We all like to get good deals. However, the cost savings on several recent FF&E projects go beyond the definition of good deals, suspiciously into the realm of scope reductions. Look at some of the “savings” generated from some of these FF&E projects that were recently presented to the Board, $150k, $300k, $315k and $310k.

These “savings” are 47%, 22%, 60% and 66% less than the original cost estimates. That’s far more than a reasonable person would expect from a “good” deal. What happened here? Was scope cut at these schools?

8. Unexplained Recent Increase to Capital Transfer Revenue. At the October CAAC meeting, members were shown Capital Transfers into the Capital Improvement Program of $41.8M. Yet, in November, they were shown $51.3M. Where did that additional $9.5M come from?

(On a side note, how does Interest Revenue DECREASE by $110,000 from August to September? Can you trust any numbers that are presented?)

Approximately $3M appears to come from the movement of the contingency in prior capital improvement programs such as 18M and 19M. This contingency decrease can be seen in documents presented to the CAAC.

But, the source of the remaining $6.5M is unexplained as the value of the 18M, 19M, 20M programs remain the same. And this happened mere days after Steve Bell told the Board that the capital transfers would be $20M/year over 6 years for a $120M total.

9. Questionable Use of $50M in Bond Premium for Contingency. Recently, Tim Reed and Steve Bell told the Board that during initial 5B discussions the bond ask amount was decreased and 2 replacement schools were removed from the list of projects.

If this was the case, why then, when the District received $50M in bond premium, weren’t replacement schools immediately added to the list of projects? Instead, it appears that the $50M in bond premium has merely been added to the $86M already allocated to program contingency. What was the process in determining that the additional $50M in contingency should be used for contingency instead of being used for replacement schools, particularly when taxpayers voters were told that Jeffco had $1.3B in deferred maintenance needs?

10. Failure of CAAC Members to Maintain Independence. Tim Reed recently sent members of the CAAC a document relating to the Purpose and Membership of the committee. This document clearly states that members must be:

Independent and free from any relationship that would interfere with independent judgment

Gordon Callahan, a CAAC member, has a relationship with the District. His firm has been the recipient of nearly $1M in contracts over the past year and a half.

This is not the appearance of independent judgment.

For taxpayers to fully trust the Capital Asset Advisory Committee ALL members of the committee must be completely independent and free of District relationships. Unfortunately, that is not currently the case. His continued membership on the committee is ethically questionable and erodes taxpayer trust.

Jeffco Schools’ Great 5B Bond Deception – Part III

Allocation of Bond Premium to Charters

As we saw in Part II, Jeffco’s Board of Education unanimously adopted a Bond Proceed Sharing Resolution that clearly states “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”.

Yet, Jeffco did NOT allocate ANY of the bond premium to District Charters. That was a loss of at least 9.29% of the Bond Premium of $50M or $4,660,360. If the share percentage was calculated correctly with 2019 student count numbers as explained in Part II, that revenue share loss is $4,745,642.

Why didn’t Jeffco schools share the Bond Premium? We weren’t part of the conversations and no discussion took place at the Board table, but we can only surmise that Jeffco is attempting to make a distinction between Bond “proceeds” and Bond “premium”, essentially saying that the bond premium is not part of the bond proceeds in order to keep the $4.7M for District projects.

That is just plain wrong!

While this attempted distinction has worked to silence the meek District Charter schools who are afraid of losing their Charter authorizations, the District knows that the IRS does not make that same distinction.

26 U.S. Code § 148.Arbitrage

Defines Proceeds as:

Proceeds means any sale proceedsinvestment proceeds, and transferred proceeds of an issue.

And sale proceeds as:

Sale proceeds

Sale proceeds means any amounts actually or constructively received from the sale of the issue, including amounts used to pay underwriters’ discount or compensation and accrued interest other than pre-issuance accrued interest. Sale proceeds also include, but are not limited to, amounts derived from the sale of a right that is associated with a bond, and that is described in 1.148-4(4). See also 1.148-4(h)(5) treating amounts received upon the termination of certain hedges as sale proceeds.

Jeffco agrees with this definition as in a May Alameda presentation to the BoE, Tim Reed included the Bond Premium in his calculation used to determine arbitrage requirements.

IRS Target Spend by 12/2021= 85% of Bond Proceeds & Premium $329,610,938

It is obvious that Jeffco knows that the IRS considers Bond Premium to be part of Bond proceeds.

Therefore, Jeffco has violated its own Sharing Resolution and defrauded the District Charters of over $4.6M by not sharing all of the Bond Proceeds, in this case the Bond Premium, with them.

In essence, Jeffco got the Charters to support, and campaign for, 5B, but in the end isn’t holding up its end of the bargain.

Shame on Jeffco schools!

Jeffco’s Use of Discredited and Debunked Reading Curriculum

Jeffco’s Chief Academic Officer should be fired!

The positive impact of high-quality curriculum in K-12 education is undisputed.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Reading Curriculum.

Phonics has long been known to be a key ingredient in teaching reading since the National Reading Panel released its report in April 2000.

In September 2018 Emily Hanford published “Hard Words” her article on the Science of Reading, igniting a national conversation relating to how schools teach reading.

In August 2019 Emily Hanford followed up with “At a Loss for Words” – what’s wrong with how schools teach reading and the national conversation relating to the teaching for reading continued.

Recently, Colorado’s SB 19-199 strengthened the READ Act and the CDE identified quality reading instructional programs that were to be used in state schools.

The discussion surrounding the Science of Reading, curriculum and products that support the Science of Reading is not new.

The question then is why, with only 44% of 3rd graders meeting state reading expectations, aren’t Jeffco Schools using Science based, proven, high-quality reading curriculum?

Jeffco’s Chief Academic Officer, Matt Flores, who has been with Jeffco a long time , should know the answer.

His salary cost to the District is $147,000, plus benefits per year.

I would expect someone, who makes that kind of money to be relatively competent at their job and provide real value.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Flores has overseen the continuing decline in reading proficiency in the District.

Jeffco’s MAP Predictive Reading Winter scores

He has not overseen a migration to a proven, scientific based reading curriculum at the continuing permanent harm to 1,000s of students each year and has no plan to do so.

Even worse, when asked by an education reporter as to what curriculum is used at each of the District’s Elementary Schools – he didn’t know and it took him over 30 days to find out! I find that incredulous. Especially when he oversees 285 people and has a $30M budget!

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.

10 Things we learned from Wednesday’s BoE Study Session – None of them good

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 premium

+$ 12M in interest

=$148M total available above cost estimates

– $107M in stated contingency

=$ 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.

May 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?

This Wednesday’s 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!

Jeffco Schools’ Great 5B Bond Deception – Part II

Computation of Charter Share

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 2018 FTE

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

  1. Ignored letters to the Board addressing this
    1. Letter to the Board – http://improvejeffcoschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gmail-RE_-Jeffco-Short-changed-5B-Charter-Share-by-Using-5-year-Enrollment-Average-in-Calculation.pdf
    2. Letter to the Board – http://improvejeffcoschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gmail-RE_-Jeffco-Short-changed-5B-Charter-Share-by-Using-5-year-Enrollment-Average-in-Calculation.pdf
    3. Response to Board Letter – http://improvejeffcoschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gmail-5B-Charter-Allocation.pdf
  2. Told the press that this was acceptable – https://arvadapress.com/stories/citizens-district-dispute-amount-5b-bond-money-charters-receive,282993
  3. Convinced the Chair of the District’s Financial Oversight Committee, Brian Ballard, to not investigate and that this was a non-issue.
    1. Letter to FOC Chair – http://improvejeffcoschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Gmail-RE_-EXTERNAL-Jeffcos-Distribution-of-2018-Bond-funds-to-District-Charter-Schools.pdf

Charter parents 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.

Jeffco Schools’ Great 5B Bond Deception – Part I

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:

ProjectEst. Cost
North Transportation-Joyce Renovation$349,400
Trailblazer Stadium$4,415,250.00
581 Conference Place Reopen$518,877.00
Mount Evans OELS Efficiency$3,210,190
Windy Peaks OELS Efficiency$3,340,982
Anderson Preschool Efficiency$117,794
Irwin Preschool Efficiency$48,935
Free Horizon Montessori$174,682
Litz Preschool Efficiency$77,479
North Transportation-Site Acquisition$7,000,600
Total $19,254,189

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 Bond.

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):

SchoolOriginal FlipbookRevised FlipbookDifference
Alameda HS$18,003,098$19,434,000$1,430,902
Patterson International ES$463,102$2,232,000$1,768,898
West Jefferson Middle School$2,323,535$3,700,000$1,376,465
Powderhorn Elementary$5,756,358$6,100,000$343,642

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.

The Failure of Jason Glass at Jeffco Schools

When 2018-19 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.

While end-of-year state testing was not conducted in 2019-20 due to COVID, the District did, as it does every year, administer Winter MAP tests. Predictive MAP tests are highly correlated to state tests.

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 impacts.

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.

And, unfortunately, this was the 3rd straight year that Jeffco Winter MAP results went in a downward direction, for both Reading and Math under Glass.

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 for?

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 direction.

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 next Superintendent.

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.

Jeffco’s Capital Asset Advisory Committee is Failing Jeffco Taxpayers

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’.

Eighteen months 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.

Our fellow taxpayers,:

George Callahan

Kathy Hodgson

Tom Murray

M.L. Richardson

Jeff Wilhite

Megan Castle

George Latuda

Bret Poole

Brittany Warga

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.

The CAAC can’t even be certain that at the current rate of spending there will be enough money complete all projects promised to taxpayers back in 2018, as they have repeatedly failed to ask important questions regarding the overspending.

School Districts 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.

Remote Learning Questions for Jason Glass

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Will teachers be required to deliver Remote Learning from their classrooms for accountability purposes? If not, why not?
  4. 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?
  5. When will beginning of year assessments be administered to ascertain how much learning was lost during the spring’s failed experiment in Remote Learning?
  6. Will student attendance be measured in a different manner than in the spring? If not, why not?
  7. How will teachers be held accountable for their instruction?
  8. 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?
  9. What guidelines will teachers be given relating to Remote Learning? Will there be Synchronous teaching requirements? If not, why not?
  10. How will students be held accountable for Remote Learning?
  11. What are the specific plans to make up for the spring learning loss?
  12. Will anything be done to improve the Grab-and-Go meal distribution to ensure more students and families receive meals?
  13. How long will non-working Classified staff be paid full wages if Remote Learning extends beyond just a few weeks?
  14. 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 impact.

Unfortunately, we 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 failures.

Where is Jason Glass?

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.

Nearly 1,000 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 questions.

Students, parents and teachers need answers, yet there is nothing but silence and now a hurriedly organized Facebook Live event.

This is not leadership!

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.

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