Opposition to new superintendent has the wrong focus
It’s typical. Some groups seem so fixated on their political agenda for education that they have lost all perspective. People certainly are entitled to their own opinions of the new Jeffco superintendent hire, Dan McMinimee. But they’re not entitled to their own facts.
The opposition to McMinimee has grown focused more around the process than the man himself. A petition has circulated calling for changes to the process. At the May 27 school board meeting, board member Lesley Dahlkemper complained that the board had named only one finalist for the position and allowed only 45 minutes of public comment. Nothing was heard of the two public appearances McMinimee made to listen and answer questions from employees and from the community.
I don’t know if 45 minutes was enough. Often it seems like some people just show up there to berate the board for actions real and imagined.
But no one on May 27 mentioned that Dr. Cindy Stevenson, who led the district for nearly 12 years, was hired with less transparency than the current choice. Twelve years ago on a Monday the district sent out notice of a special executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Two days later, the board emerged from behind closed doors to offer Stevenson the superintendent job. No other finalists. No public comments.
Once again we see that, if anything, the new school board majority in Jeffco has increased transparency. For some, though, it hardly matters what they do. No good deed goes unpunished.
Teachers question actions by board
The undersigned teachers of Jefferson County Schools are very concerned about the direction of the new school board majority. We ask for respect, transparency and accountability. Without these virtues, we are worried that our schools will be torn apart the way the strong, reputable schools of Douglas County were destroyed by their school board. More than 1,000 teachers have fled that district because of the extreme measures taken by its school board and superintendent.
We had a nationally acclaimed superintendent, Dr. Cindy Stevenson, treated with such disrespect that she chose to resign rather than have her job be rendered impossible by the board majority. They hired their own attorney using taxpayer dollars. When asked repeatedly by the other two members of the board to explain why they needed an attorney, and to explain the charges and services provided by him, the board majority continually avoided answering. They refuse to put such a discussion on meeting agendas. We are left to wonder what they are up to, and why they are not honoring their campaign promises for transparency and accountability.
While charter schools have a place in our communities, giving them additional funds was at the bottom of the priorities on the community surveys. The board majority has given an inordinate amount to them in the short time it has served. They also voted against financing full-day kindergarten for some of the neediest kids in our district for $600,000. However, they approved giving an additional $3.7 million to charter schools, which serve only 8 percent of Jeffco’s student population.
This whole thing just makes us sad. We all want what is best for all students. We hate that it’s become such a battle. We love teaching, and we don’t want our happy schools to become such a battleground. We need to come to a common understanding and remember that it’s about the kids!
For the first time, we have to worry about the intentions of the school board. How preposterous. This is whom we should be able to trust to do what is best for all 80,000 students in Jeffco Public Schools. Let’s keep that the focus.
Kathleen Langowski, Karyn Pedersen, Michelle O’Laughlin, Kristin Mitchell, Marty Shuler, Rebecca Wickland, Michele Franey, Linda Benton, Greg Dorsey, Judy Cheatham, Kit Snyder, Stephany Fritz, Nicholas DeBonie, Colin Booth