opinion

Letters to the Editor — West Metro Oct. 19 edition

Posted 10/19/17

Alarm bells about school board racesUntil 2015, school board races got little to no attention. In fact, in 2013 school board races had so little attention in Jeffco, three candidates were elected …

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opinion

Letters to the Editor — West Metro Oct. 19 edition

Posted

Alarm bells about school board races

Until 2015, school board races got little to no attention. In fact, in 2013 school board races had so little attention in Jeffco, three candidates were elected even though they publicly announced their support for guns in school, openly bashed teachers, and said it wasn’t necessary to address vouchers because they weren’t constitutional. They refused to publicly oppose vouchers. The two candidates (Van Gieson and Shields) challenging incumbents Brad Rupert and Susan Harmon now utter the exact same rhetoric.

Constitutionality or legality didn’t make any difference to the DougCo School board when they put forth their Scholarship Program, also known as vouchers. They referred to themselves as the candidates for “choice.” (Sound familiar?) Per a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial “They wanted a program to expand school choice by allowing parents to use scholarship vouchers, funded by the district, to enroll kids in sectarian or secular private schools.”

We are alarmed as we’ve heard many folks around the district comment they didn’t know there was an election this year for school board seats. We’d like to think, that’s because our current school board has done a good job of returning the board room to a respectful environment, where staff and community are treated with the respect they deserve. They’ve increased transparency, taken politics out of our schools, and made it a practice of sharing differing views, yet they work collaboratively.

We want to remind Jeffco voters not to sit back and let the history of 2013 repeat itself.

In this November election, we are proud to endorse for Jeffco School Board: Brad Rupert in District 1, Susan Harmon in District 2, and Ron Mitchell in District 5.

We need a school board who works for the best interest of all 86,000 Jeffco students and supports public education.

Shawna Fritzler & Jonna Levine,
Support Jeffco Kids

Charter schools are important in Jeffco

If all of Jeffco schools, whether they’re neighborhood, charter or option schools, are serving Jeffco students — I just do not get the hostility towards charter schools and the belief that we’re unjustly taking money away from neighborhood schools.

With the influx of people moving to Colorado in the last few years, I’ve seen it as a way to ‘create more room’ without having to put undue pressure on neighborhood schools to accommodate the growing number of students. I also believe that all schools have a ‘personality’ and that we’re quite fortunate to be able to choose the personality that fits our students best. That is one of the things I appreciate the most about Jeffco schools. In addition, if people were satisfied with the standards at their neighborhood school, then I doubt that charter schools would be as well attended as they are.

Seems to me the question charter school opponents should be asking themselves is why we were looking for other schooling options in the first place.

I am supporting school board candidates that support not only school choice but also support charter schools. Please join me in voting for Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields for Jeffco School board.

Stacy Saueressig,
Golden

Excited about sixth-grade shift

I am excited for more Jeffco sixth-graders to have the opportunities those in the Chatfield, Evergreen, and Conifer area already experience.

After much discussion and 12 community forums in Spring of 2016, Jeffco Schools is beginning to move ahead with the middle school model in August of 2018. This greatly increases the benefits for our students. A three-year experience means more choice for students. Currently, Jeffco sixth-graders attending middle schools with the 6-8 model participate in two or three electives each day, while those in the K-6 model have one elective each day. During my 26 years as a middle school teacher, I saw firsthand that electives are key to keeping students engaged. Content areas are also critical, and in the 6-8 model students are taught by content specialists who have the benefit of planning with other experts at all three grade levels with more resources. In addition, sixth graders have access to lab science, and all accelerated students attending a 6-8 model can take advanced math classes, such as algebra and geometry. Finally, a three-year experience brings greater stability, avoiding back-to-back transition years for our students.

One of the biggest keys to making this transition a success will be our elementary school teachers. I hope to see them choose to make this move. This does not require new certification to teach sixth grade. Teachers with 25 college credits in a content area are considered “highly qualified” in that subject to teach seventh and eighth grade.

As a sixth grade teacher back when Adams 12 transitioned to the 6-8 model, I saw what a positive change this was for our students and our educators. I look forward to more consistent experiences for Jeffco sixth graders, and a stronger middle school experience for all.

Ali Lasell,
Jeffco school board

Misleading election information again

I received promotional material about the upcoming school board elections about why I should vote for the incumbents. I found the brochure full of misleading information. First, current board claims they are “making sure our graduates are ready for college.” Last year, graduation rates in Jeffco dropped vs. prior year. Per 2016 ACT scores, 7 out of 10, 11th graders failed to meet college and career benchmarks.

Second claim, they are stopping the mass exodus of teachers. Per the CDE, the 2015/16 school year, teacher turnover rate was 13.48 percent and the teacher turnover rate in 2016/17 school year was 14.39 percent. This is after receiving $10 million in bonuses and $25 million in salary increases. So no, the current board is not retaining teachers.
Third false claim is they “brought transparency back to the board room.” Well, they made their last superintendent evaluation behind closed doors, added $78 million in debt without voter approval and closed a school with 30 day notice. That doesn’t seem like increased transparency to me.

Fourth false claim, “provide seats for the children coming to Jeffco.” This board is spending $50 million to move sixth 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.

The brochure finished with asking for support to “continue their path toward greater success.” Do you really think we are successful when 50 percent of third graders do not meet reading or math standards?

Vote for Erica Shields and Matt Van Gieson. They will bring a balanced voice to the school board and will address poor student achievement in Jeffco.

Leonor Lucero,
Littleton

Vote for Matt Van Gieson for Jeffco School Board

Next week Jefferson County will send out ballets, and voters will fill two seats on our school board. Matt Van Gieson has our vote because he is an honest-to-goodness accessible member of this community and will be an advocate for our children. His only ties on the board will be to the voters. He is one of us, someone who knows just how precious each child is and won’t lose sight of that.

Brad Rupert, the incumbent, is a lawyer. His positions offer little for us to grasp to in terms of goals and initiatives. It is difficult to glean a sense of who he is and what his views are because he maintains a politician-type ambiguity.

Matt’s views and motives are transparent. He brings out the noblest intentions of those he works alongside because his motives are just that noble. Matt will not shy away from disagreement or tough questions. We believe he can restore the checks and balances that safeguard the best interest of the community on the school board. It is apparent to us that the board lacks diversity of points of view. We understand that all three current members are supported financially by JCEA.

We also aren’t satisfied with the standing board’s level of community engagement. Their record includes a bond issue that didn’t pass because it was poorly crafted and communicated and they followed that with a knee-jerk response to the voters’ decision. A list of our most vulnerable neighborhood schools went into a panic, threatened with closure. The board’s unanimous decision to close Pleasant View Elementary was made the very next meeting after it was proposed. We believe the voters were asking the board to find ways to be more frugal, not to retaliate.

“We the people” are Jeffco schools, and Matt Van Gieson is the voice for the people of Jefferson County.
Check Matt Van Gieson, a vote for balance.

Meghan and Brian DeLauro
Arvada

Merit to middle school shift

Susan Harmon, Ron Mitchell and Brad Rupert promote sixth graders joining middle school. Here’s why this goal is educationally sound and works wonderfully well:

A half century ago, I took algebra in ninth grade. Now elementary school students are learning algebraic dynamics. sixth graders will benefit from teaching platforms in Middle School that hone their arithmetic, technology and science skills.

Critics of this savvy strategy are captive to visions of education fit for 1917 when high level classes in math, tech and science were introduced in high school.

It’s 2017. Wake up. sixth graders will benefit from middle school resources and save cash in a strapped Jeffco School budget.

Jack R. Van Ens,
Arvada

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