As your Jeffco Board of Education, we make it our core mission to provide a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future. Funding challenges at the state level (Colorado owes K-12 education over $800 million a year, and that amount is growing) and locally (Jeffco’s 3A & 3B failure was the lone defeat while five other metro Denver districts won voter approval) mean now, more than ever, we need our community to understand the value of providing a high-quality education for our students.
We are committed to an open, transparent process to determine how Jeffco Public Schools can continue to be a strong district despite diminishing resources.
Jeffco is committed to its 2020 Vision, which recognizes our children are more than a single score. Our board supports delivering a 21st century-ready education, including content mastery, critical thinking and creativity, self-direction and personal responsibility, and civic and global engagement. We aligned our board goals to this vision, and we are working to preserve proven supports. That includes literacy interventionists delivering real results in growing young readers, and social emotional learning specialists building wellness, care and prevention for all students’ learning readiness.
While we are proud of Jeffco’s accomplishments, we are mindful that continuous improvement is the definition of excellence. Jeffco is celebrating positive accomplishments in early literacy, but variation and gaps persist for some students. Strong math growth and achievement is coupled with a need to have on-grade-level math learners match the success of accelerated learners. Finally, Jeffco is focused on every student reaching college, career and life readiness.
We aim to increase the number of students who match Jeffco’s strong reading and writing ACT and PSAT results across all content areas. Whether college, the workplace or military service is a student’s aspiration, our board has set a goal of high levels of readiness for all students. Jeffco’s graduation rate has increased steadily since 2010, representing thousands of diverse, unique students who are assets and contributors to our community.
We know strong teachers, leaders and staff make the critical difference for our students’ success.
While 99 percent of Jeffco teachers are highly qualified, Jeffco’s salaries fall below the average of the five most comparable nearby districts; some teachers could make $8-10,000 more per year in neighboring districts. We are here because teachers willingly took pay cuts and freezes at the height of the recession when other districts cut programs, and the impact of this sacrifice has not been fully restored.
Consequently, Jeffco has lost too many of its well-trained and highly effective educators to nearby school districts. Jeffco Public Schools must offer competitive compensation to ensure we don’t lose any more of our best people to other districts. And now is the time to seek a new superintendent with a proven track record, the ability to listen to all community voices, and the educational expertise required to push Jeffco to new heights as we navigate difficult budget constraints.
Great people make great schools. In 2016, Jeffco’s average ACT scores reached an all-time high. Our seniors earned $80 million in college scholarships — including seven Daniels Scholars and two Boettcher Scholars — and 22 Jeffco students were named National Merit Scholar semifinalists. We’ve celebrated Devinny Elementary and Evergreen High’s National Blue Ribbon Awards, 25 John Irwin Awards for academic achievement, 16 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Awards, and eight Jeffco high schools among the 50 Top High Schools in Colorado. Jeffco educator recognition includes: Milken Educator, Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, Amgen Science Teaching Excellence, and Olmsted Excellence in Secondary Teaching and more. And a principal received the Patriot Award from the U.S. Department of Defense, Employer Support of National Guard and Reserves.
By investing in Jeffco, we invest in our future and our community. After voters failed to support Jeffco’s 2016 mill and bond proposal, district staff presented $20.4 million in budget reductions for the school board’s review. Budget cuts dating back to 2009 still have impacts, and now too many students risk not getting the opportunities they deserve, while some of our beloved schools operate in aging buildings with a growing backlog of much-needed repairs and maintenance.
As we, your Board of Education, spend the next few months working to balance the budget and find Jeffco’s next superintendent, we will do all we can to ensure the best education for our students, learning environments where they can thrive, and a competitive compensation model for our educators.
Let us hear from you, and know that we welcome different approaches and voices to the discussion. If Jeffco can come together in the best interest of all 86,000 students, our entire community will benefit.