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.
Maureen Sielaff, Littleton
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
Keyser’s positions at odds with moderate residents of HD 25
Your article about Jon Keyser, running for House District 25, affirmed my commitment to support Janet Doyle as our next state representative. Mr. Keyser said he hopes to have the support of the “conservative base.” Since he has lived in our district for only two years, he is apparently unaware that our last four state representatives have all been moderates and served the community long before they ran for office. There’s a good reason for this: The people in HD 25 are moderates, and they like to know the person they are voting for.
Most people in this district support the development of green energy as part of this country’s move to energy independence. While Xcel was initially opposed to the citizen-enacted initiative that required a certain percentage of energy to be from renewable sources, the move to using wind and solar energy has been accomplished easily and without additional cost to residents. Electrical co-ops need to move into the 21st century.
Most Americans and 80 percent of Coloradoans support mandatory background checks. Coloradans have previously voted to close the background-check loophole for gun shows.
Most people in this district also support the modernization of election procedures that Mr. Keyser complains about. In Jefferson County 80 percent of us have happily voted by mail in the last two general elections and are pleased with the cost savings that will be realized by the implementation of voting centers where citizens can still go to the polls personally if they so desire. The vast majority of Republican county clerks in Colorado supported election modernization, including Jeffco’s own Republican clerk and recorder.
It sounds to me like Mr. Keyser is interested in representing only his “conservative base.” I am supporting Janet Doyle because she will continue the tradition of moderate leadership from this district. She knows this district and its people and what we care about.
Chris O’Dell, former chair, Jeffco Republican Party
Sustainable energy, voting modernization among the key issues in HD 25
Recently, I read with interest your article on the GOP candidate in House District 25. A number of the positions described are of great concern to me. In this time of transition in our energy future and in the changing global climate, I would appreciate a candidate representing our area who had the vision to both advance the “rural way of life” and a sustainable energy future for Colorado. Developing a strong renewable energy industry in Colorado will require support from all levels of government, the private sector, and certainly from rural cooperatives. And, this future should not be seen as mutually exclusive from increased oil and gas development from hydraulic fracturing. True energy independence in this state, and in the U.S., will require wise political leadership on all of these fronts.
Also, I was concerned to read about Jon Keyser’s position on mail-in ballots. In truth, the position itself harkens back to the days of the “pony express.” To suggest that, in the 21st century, he does not support voting modernization takes us back to the early days of the frontier. His accusation of “bureaucratic inefficiency” is unfounded since, in fact, he owns property in two districts and correctly received ballots for each. The mail-in system most effectively serves citizens such as Keyser, who can efficiently participate in ballot measures in both jurisdictions.
Lastly, to imagine a representative in our district not supporting the firearms safety legislation that was passed last year, which included universal background checks that keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and the mentally ill, suggests that he would not represent the majority of views in District 25, and certainly not “everybody in the district.”
Barbara Stinson, Evergreen