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Boggs’ statements paint a distorted picture
Why did I help write and sign the letter/petition to bar Jeffco Board of Education member Laura Boggs from moderating the April 30 Evergreen budget forum?
I currently chair the Strategic Planning and Advisory Planning Committee, the Jeffco School District’s state-mandated accountability committee. This committee also functions as an advisory committee to the Jeffco school board.
Both the school district and its board members are obligated to be accountable to the community. The voters and taxpayers of Jeffco deserve and expect to hear truthful and accurate information from both. The Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee, made up of parents, community members and employees, ensures the district (and its board members) are just that — accountable.
Mrs. Boggs has said :
• Jeffco per-pupil funding is $11,400.
When, in fact, per-pupil funding will be about $7,900, including state allocations and local funding.
• Students will lose six days of school next year.
When, in fact, students will be in school only two fewer days, due to furlough days. While Jeffco staff will experience the loss of four additional workdays, these are not days when students would have attended school.
• Teachers will receive a 14 percent pay increase that will cost $12 million dollars.
When, in fact, teachers and all Jeffco staff will receive a 3 percent compensation reduction, due to the two student-contact furlough days and the four days of work reduction, which equates to a budget savings of about $16 million.
• A suggestion was made that Jeffco is inappropriately funding preschool.
When, in fact, preschool is an educational opportunity, which pays educational dividends for students, is mandated for special education students and is financially self-sufficient in Jeffco.
Boggs claims she is simply exercising her right to freedom of speech and voicing her personal opinion, but when she addresses groups at community events, Boggs is introduced as board member and representative of the district. Frequently, when Boggs and other school board members appear at various community gatherings, they are the only district representative present. Often, folks attending these gatherings are not regular attendees of Jeffco school board meetings and forums, where either Boggs herself has been corrected, or her information has been corrected. This leaves countless Jeffco residents with the wrong information and the wrong impressions.
It’s simply not OK to spin tales about the district inappropriately funding preschool, or inaccurately quote furlough days and school days students will miss, or use funny math to recalculate per-pupil funding and teacher and employee pay rates. We have too much at stake. There are too many lives and livelihoods impacted to make light of such troubling times. 85,000 students and 12,000 employees all hang in the balance.
The other board members: Dave Thomas, Jane Barnes, Paula Noonan and Robin Johnson fully understand what’s at stake. I applaud their efforts at the various budget forums around the district to be clear about numbers and represent the facts accurately. They clearly understand that while the cuts this year are indeed very painful, the cuts next year and the year after that will be at least if not more painful; and at some point, the Jeffco board will need to ask its voters to increase the district’s revenue by approving a mill-levy increase or bond issue. History shows that in Jeffco voters will be extremely skeptical of any request for additional revenue. Mix in Boggs’ tales and spin, and the voters will question whom to believe. What a disservice should they choose to believe Boggs.
So, yes, I helped write the letter/petition and signed it as the citizen chair of the Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee. Boggs has shown she is not and will not be accountable to the community. This information is too important, and the community deserves to hear accurate data.
One more point of interest: During the Sept. 17, 2010, Board of Education study session, Boggs voiced a desire to disband the state-mandated Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee. It does make one wonder …
Jonna Levine
citizen chair of the Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee