opinion

Letters to the Editor — West Metro Oct. 26 edition

Posted 10/26/17

School board is effective

We need effective government in all areas. That’s exactly what we’ve seen from the Jeffco School Board these past two years. This diverse, five-member board has given …

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opinion

Letters to the Editor — West Metro Oct. 26 edition

Posted

School board is effective

We need effective government in all areas. That’s exactly what we’ve seen from the Jeffco School Board these past two years. This diverse, five-member board has given countless hours to Jeffco’s 86,000 students and now has two years of on-the-job experience that would be difficult to replicate.

These board members value leadership, and made a profoundly positive impact on Jeffco Schools’ future when they hired deeply experienced and nationally respected superintendent Dr. Jason Glass.

These board members value our students and have invested to expand the pathways available to them. This includes new apprenticeships, career and technical education programs such as Arvada High School’s Buildings and Trades Pre-Apprenticeship Work Readiness Program, and additional investment in the Warren Tech career and technical education campuses.

These board members value respect. Board meetings now include thoughtful, respectful conversations at the board table and with presenting staff. Not once has anyone wanting to address the board been turned away. And community members no longer feel unappreciated when sharing their views with the board.
Finally, these board members value community engagement. They have held countless community forums, visited the schools in their districts and throughout Jeffco, and engaged with community groups and civic organizations on a regular basis.

When communities are connected and engaged, student achievement improves.
Re-elect Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell to the Jeffco Schools Board of Education. Look for your ballot the week of October 16.

Kelly Johnson,
Golden

Incumbents no shows at forums

If I were running for re-election for the Jefferson County school board, I would want to be engaging with community members as much as possible & attend forums to differentiate myself from my challengers. Well this is not the case for Jeffco School board race. Rupert & Harmon Mitchell, have been “No Shows” at two forums the week of Oct. 9. This tells me that they do not care about my questions. This tells me that they do not care to tell me why I should support them. And this tells me they do not care about community feedback.

I commend both Matt Van Gieson & Erica Shields showing up to participate and I was inspired by their commitment to the students of Jeffco. I appreciated the time they spent to answer the questions thoroughly and respectfully. I also appreciated the time they took to talk to me about my concerns with spending tens of millions to move sixth graders to middle school. Personally, my child is not ready for this move and I do not want her to be forced into an environment she is not ready for. I really wanted to understand the rationale and my options moving forward.

After hearing from the candidates, I am definitely supporting and voting for Erica Shields and Matt Van Gieson. They really want to improve student achievement & be fiscally responsible with the billion-dollar school budget. And I really appreciated that they took the time to engage with community members while their opponents did not. That says a lot in my book.

Amy Cooper,
Golden

Moving forward with school board

When I was Lakewood Mayor, I always felt that no matter what we did as a City, unless we had quality neighborhood public schools where parents wanted to send their children, our City was not complete.

Thanks to the leadership we now have in place with the Jeffco Schools Board of Education, we continue “Moving Forward with A Learning-Centered Vision for our Community’s Schools.”

Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell believe that civility and transparency is a key value for the Jeffco Schools Board of Education. They have helped make our graduates ready for college and career. Brad, Susan and Ron have established a culture in the Jeffco Schools that encourages our educators to stay in the district. Finally, they are preparing for future enrollments in spite of budget limitations. Leadership does start at the top!

Keep this leadership in place! Re-elect Brad, Susan and Ron!

Steve Burkholder,
City of Lakewood Mayor, 1999-2007

All voices needed on Jeffco school board

I am writing in support of Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields for Jeffco School Board. Isn’t it about time we had some diversity of thought on our school board? Being responsible for the education of 86,000 is a huge undertaking and that is why it is important to have a variety of voices and opinions to bring balance to the school board. I think all community members can agree that students should graduate career or college ready and life ready. We owe that to the students of Jeffco. Sadly, this is not happening.

Graduation rates are down, teachers are still leaving their positions, student population is stagnant and more importantly, student achievement in Jeffco is dismal. 50 percent of third graders do not meet reading or math standards. Research shows that kids who do not meet reading standards by the end of third grader are 4x less likely to graduate. We can do better in Jeffco.

Please vote for Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields for school board. I have received my ballot and marked my ballot for Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields. Remember, you can vote for school board candidates in all districts. Matt and Erica will be the second names on the ballot. A vote for Matt Van Gieson and Erica Shields is a vote for a commitment to put students ahead of politics.

Maureen Sielaff,
Littleton

Positive atmosphere worth supporting

I believe that the Jeffco community owes a big thank you to Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon, Ron Mitchell and the other board members for establishing an atmosphere of trust and civility which has enabled a productive and forward-thinking two years for Jefferson County schools. As they promised, they created a positive and inviting tone in the boardroom where constituents can speak, collaborate and, yes, even disagree, in an atmosphere of respect and reason. The community’s time and energy is now focused on student education rather than outside political distractions. Teachers’ compensation structure has been stabilized and is now more competitive with neighboring districts who have, in the past, siphoned off some of our excellent educators.

To support our large district’s growth and shifts in population the board has shown the foresight to initiate several construction, expansion and remodeling projects for schools like Three Creeks, Rose Stein and Sierra. In addition the board has shown strong support for charter schools by approving all applications for new and renewing charter schools in the district. Finally they have ensured that Jefferson County School District leadership will be second to none by hiring Jason Glass, a top-notch school Superintendent with a proven track record of success.

Given their dedication to improving the educational opportunities for all Jefferson County students I strongly support Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon and Ron Mitchell for their re-election to the Jefferson County School Board.

Meg Frantz,
Golden

Stealthy campaigns should stop

I am an older resident of Arvada, so I have no kids in school. But I am a voter, and I was quite offended several years ago when a slate of school board candidates ran a stealth campaign and managed to get elected. Apparently many others were as well, per a subsequent difficult campaign to enable a recall vote and then replace them.

In the current campaign for the school board I read all the interviews with candidates published in the newspaper. And they all looked fine, with everyone seeming open and in general support of the same goals, incumbents and challengers alike. I read carefully for comments that might have reflected views of the slate that was recalled — I couldn’t find any.

Since that time, a few developments. The tone of letters to the press has gotten more smear based for the current board.

Today I received what might appear to be a newsletter in the mail — on inspection it was a collection of articles highly critical of the school system and current school board. Who pays for this, which cannot have been inexpensive? In a school board campaign? As Reagan famously said, here we go again.

If this group, whoever they are, feels so strongly about their plan for the schools why don’t they just come out and say it, instead of repeating another stealth campaign? Do they fear that if their true views were known they would not stand a chance?

I hope Jefferson County voters won’t get fooled again. Maybe after a few defeats the Kochs, or the DeVos foundation, or whoever may be funding this effort will decide their billions will be better spent elsewhere and leave this county alone.

Dan Fishbein,
Arvada

OK becoming a middle school parent

As a mother of a fifth grader in Jeffco, I had concerns about my little girl being in the first sixth grade class to move to middle school. However, my fears were alleviated when I attended a session with the middle school principal. I am excited and confident that the school board made the right decision. The principal is going to great lengths to prepare for the transition and make sure the school is ready to address the needs of the new students. My daughter, who is not so little anymore, is starting to know where her interests lie and wants to explore new things. Middle school will give her the opportunity to take electives and participate in activities that she would not get in elementary school. The school board was right in moving sixth grade so I will be supporting them in this election.

Melissa Martini,
Lakewood

Sounds deceptive

“School reform” and “school choice” are not what they sound like. These phrases sounds good, but in today’s context they typically refer to using taxpayer dollars intended to fund our public schools to instead fund new charter schools. It is important to understand that several (not all) of these charter schools are run by for-profit education corporations. It is also important to understand that the same rigorous standards that apply to our public schools are often not applied to charters, because charters are allowed to apply for waivers to exempt them from certain standards. Also, consider that charter schools are sometimes prohibitively difficult for low-income working families to participate in, since the school is not physically located within the child’s neighborhood.

Certainly there are great charter schools out there that have successfully served Jeffco students for decades. No one is arguing against these schools that arose from a genuine community need and are locally supported. But today’s “reformers” who run for school boards across the country are often funded by out-of- state corporate interests who pour money into elections for their own agenda. It’s important for all of us, even if we don’t have children in Jeffco schools, to pay attention to this Nov. 7 election and to protect our public schools that exist to serve all children.

Robin Kupernik,
Arvada

Seeing through transparency issue

It’s curious that the opponents to Brad Rupert and Susan Harmon have identified “transparency” as an important issue. Transparency was a major problem before the current school board members took the reins. One of the first tasks of Brad Rupert, Susan Harmon, Ron Mitchell and their colleagues was to reverse the previous board culture of backroom, behind the scenes dealings. In fact, the school district is now recognized by the Independence Institute and other organizations for its transparency. There are numerous examples of the current board’s transparent approach to district finances and agenda. A few links for those interested can be found under in jeffcopublicschools.org/finance website.

It is also worth noting that when the new Facilities Master Plan was introduced, multiple community forums were held to gather public input about the recommendations. Comments and surveys were compiled and published online, and the board used the input to shape the finalized Facilities Master Plan. Community feedback, as detailed in those archived documents, also was the driving force in the decision to move sixth grade to middle school. Did the challengers participate in those forums or the many other forums that have taken place since Superintendent Glass arrived? They don’t seem to acknowledge the transformation towards inclusiveness, collaboration and transparency that has occurred over the last two years.

I would ask the opponents to share with the community exactly what information they feel is not available to them, what information have they attempted to acquire, and what roadblocks they have encountered. In my experience, the information is readily available and free-flowing since Rupert, Harmon and Mitchell started serving on the board. I believe they have earned our support for re-election.

Gretchen Winters,
Littleton

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