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Friendly overtures — and friction — at school board retreat

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Divided board looks back at last school year, plans ahead

By Daniel Laverty

Jeffco’s famously divided school board made conciliatory noises at its annual retreat on Saturday, though some evidence surfaced of the friction that has prevailed since last November’s election. 

“I promise there will be clear and concise communication,” said Superintendent Daniel McMinimee, who was hired on a 3-2 vote in June. “I’m looking forward to working together. I think this has been a great start.”

The retreat was held at the Education Center in Golden and was facilitated by former school board member Jane Barnes.

“I think we had significant challenges the past six months,” said board President Ken Witt, who was elected last year along with two other conservatives. “We had a good diversity of viewpoints. I think we will be better focused now that we have leadership (McMinimee) to work with.”

Board member Lesley Dahlkemper, who along with Jill Fellman voted against hiring McMinimee, said she wanted to see more respect among board members and an end to “surprises.”

“(Like) the (June 19) vote on charter schools,” she said. “Funding went from $3 million to more than $5 million without a discussion. (Fellman and I) had not gotten a heads-up on that.

Saturday’s retreat was an opportunity for board members to reflect on the board’s performance last year and discuss its goals and plans for the 2014-15 school year.

 

Other items of note

• Since August, the Jeffco Board of Education has received more than 900 pieces of e-mail correspondence, which is the yearly average, said Helen Neal, school board chief of staff.

• The board has come up with five goals focused on student achievement and progress. The board requested that McMinimee and his staff give an update on one of the goals each month.

The goals are: every student will master the Colorado Content Standards at grade level; every student will achieve at least one year’s growth in every school year and be ready for the next level; every student will graduate career and workforce and/or post-secondary ready; every student will learn in a caring, safe and engaging school environment; and every student will become a responsible citizen.

The first and second goals include specific growth and improvement on test scores the board would like to see, including having third-grade TCAP scores increase from 80 percent to 85 percent by August 2015.

• Steve Bell, Jeffco chief operations officer, and Tim Reed, executive director of facilities, listed pressing building and facilities needs that are approaching. 

Bell and Reed recommended building a new elementary school at the Solterra/West Lakewood area or adding to Rooney Ranch Elementary School due to growth in the area. The cost would range between $6 million and $15 million.

Building a large athletic complex on D’Evelyn High’s campus was also discussed because of the overuse of the two existing stadium sites in Jeffco. The cost is estimated at $25 million.

 

Contact Daniel Laverty at 303-350-1042 Daniel@evergreenco.com. Check HighTimberTimes.com for updates and breaking news. Follow Daniel on Twitter @LavertyReports.