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School district’s plan to use ‘cloud’ storage for student data invites disaster
Editor:
Jefferson County Schools has decided to put all student personal information in a national database called “inBloom.” It has done this secretly without any prior input from parents and taxpayers.
This database is “cloud”-based and is not secure. The owners deny any responsibility or liability for leaks while transferring or storing data. This is preposterous, to say the least. This will put students’ identities in a database that can be hacked, and they feel this is OK? Unbelievable! Data will be shared across states and with service providers that Jeffco schools feel is OK. Without parental permission or knowledge.
If parents want their children’s data given to third-party vendors it should be their decision, not the schools’. You have teachers saying they have to go to different databases now to get student information. This will save them so much time. Well, I ask you, why are teachers even constantly accessing students’ private information?  
Do we have even one independent-thinking, non-self-serving individual on the Jeffco school board who can see the huge potential here for misuse?
Maureen Sielaff
Jefferson County

Schools’ plan to test inBloom was carefully considered, communicated
Editor:
A recent letter to the editor stated that “Jefferson County Schools has decided to put all student personal information in a national database called ‘inBloom.’ It has done this secretly without any prior input from parents and taxpayers.”
To set the record straight, Jeffco Public Schools has not put student information into inBloom. Jeffco is partnering with inBloom as a pilot district to explore the feasibility of using inBloom’s services. Additionally, Jeffco has frequently communicated this work to both parents and taxpayers over the past few months.
What is inBloom? To achieve Jeffco’s goal of all students graduating career and college ready, we face a need for faster access to pertinent data and resources from multiple systems, along with the ability to quickly identify which of these resources are appropriate for instructional use. We rely on a variety of technology tools to do this, but the cost of connecting all these tools can be very high. InBloom provides a set of technology services, including secure Web-based data storage, which dramatically lower district costs and help to ensure that the money we spend on technology can provide the greatest possible benefit to students and educators.
Student data privacy is a top priority for inBloom and for Jeffco. We encourage our community to get detailed information about inBloom’s approach to data security and privacy, which is available on the inBloom website. The services inBloom provides, and Jeffco’s use of them, are fully compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA; additionally, inBloom offers districts the ability to secure student data better than they can on their own. Student data will never become the property of inBloom or any of its funders or affiliates, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Indeed, Jeffco shares personally identifiable data only with entities that have a legitimate “need to know.” Utilizing inBloom would not change the rules on the release of data to third parties, because Jeffco’s current practices would remain unchanged.
We appreciate the questions from our community and will continue to share the facts of the inBloom story.
Cindy Stevenson
superintendent
Jeffco Public Schools

Teachers union using our taxes for its lobbying efforts
Editor:
I find it interesting that the CEA, the largest and most powerful union in Colorado, is bragging about fleecing Colorado taxpayers.
The article in their Journal states that the CEA killed nine PERA defined-benefit bills last session but had only two to kill this session.
I guess the millions of your tax dollars used to hire lobbyists are paying off.
It’s comforting to know that we are being fleeced with our own money.
The billions of dollars of PERA unfunded liabilities will have to come from somewhere, and the last big piggybank will be our property taxes.
The next time you hear this new tax increase that the school is asking for is for the children, ask yourself then why, in 2014, will millions of dollars of the Jefferson County school budget be going to fund the Public Employees Retirement Association?
Jim Kerr

Jefferson County Fool us thrice?
Editor:
Where, but in the legislature’s grandiose school-funding schemes, does the ditty “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” apply today?
Do you remember when, a decade ago, the Jeffco Board of Education asked voters for a tax increase to improve student achievement, with the promise to return that money if the results were unchanged? Fooled once!
Do you remember that when the effort failed and the refund was due, the school board promoted a ballot issue that purported to return the money, where either a yes or a no vote on the method of return enabled the district to keep the taxpayers money? Fooled twice!
So, given Jeffco’s failure, why should the voters be fooled thrice into thinking that they would see any change in achievement results if a mere billion dollars was thrown at the educational establishment?
Shouldn’t success be followed by the reward, as in the private sector?
Or, rather, shouldn’t the educational funds follow the student as he chooses his path to success?
Russell W. Haas
Golden

Open Space master plan needs public input
Editor:
For several months, I have been following the situation at Crown Hill Open Space (between Lakewood and Wheat Ridge), where Jeffco Open Space proposed to build several structures that the public did not want. It might remind Evergreen residents of the pedestrian bridge that Jeffco installed in 2004 against the community’s wishes. Similar situations will continue to generate negative publicity and waste taxpayer dollars if several issues are not addressed:
• Lack of public involvement at all levels of parks and open space planning and management (including the design process, as in the Evergreen bridge situation).
• Lack of shared vision and goals between the public and the staff.
• Lack of transparency. Need to develop transparency requirements with input from professional resources and the public, put them in writing, and then follow them.
• Lack of accountability. Need to conduct a review by a qualified, disinterested third party to ensure that the open space program is abiding by program guidelines, legal covenants from Great Outdoors Colorado, and other relevant rules and obligations.
• Lack of information tailored for Jefferson County on how to connect children and families to nature. Need to conduct analysis and public outreach on this topic.
Please let Jeffco know that you want these issues addressed in the Jeffco parks master plan and also share your other values and goals for open space lands. The master plan process started May 16 and will continue through this fall. Although the current round of public input meetings is ending June 5, at least two more public meetings will be held in August (dates/times to be determined). In the meantime, citizens can provide input via e-mail to Thea Rock, Jeffco Open Space communications manager, at trock@jeffco.us. Visit http://
jeffco.us/jeffersoncountyparks.htm for further details.
If you share these concerns and would like to help ensure that Jefferson County Open Space/Parks is a leader in public involvement, transparency, accountability and connecting children to nature, send an e-mail to Friends of Jeffco Open Space at fojcos@yahoo.com, or visit http://friendsofcrownhill.org/?page_id=263.
Cara Snyder
Lakewood