• ‘Back to the drawing board’

    A group of Chatfield High students watched a year’s worth of work go up in flames when a SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station exploded after liftoff on June 7.

    The unmanned Falcon rocket was carrying an experiment developed last school year by the Chatfield students that was designed to produce rocket fuel in space using algae.

    The Chatfield experiment was one of nine from schools across the country that was on its way, along with several tons of supplies, to the astronauts on the space station.

  • Parents launch effort to recall conservative school board members

    Three Jeffco parents have filed paperwork seeking to recall the three school board members who make up the body’s conservative majority: John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams.

    Indian Hills parent Wendy McCord, Evergreen parent Michael Blanton and Littleton parent Tina Gurdikian filed the petition format Friday afternoon, according to a news release from a recently formed advocacy group, Jeffco United for Action.

  • Top dogs

    A rescue dog can zero in on a missing person in an area it would take 30 humans to search, tracking the scent from almost a quarter-mile away.

    So it was no surprise when Koert and Maui, two border collies with Search And Rescue Dogs Of Colorado, found two kids hiding in Bemis Library in just five seconds.

    Koert and Maui, along with trainer Marcia McMahon, were at Bemis on July 1 to demonstrate to dozens of first- through fifth-graders why dogs are such good trackers and how people like McMahon train them.

  • Recall of 3 school board members will likely move forward

    Both supporters and critics agree that the group trying to unseat Jeffco’s three conservative school board members will likely have no trouble gathering the signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

    The question is whether the signatures will be collected in time for the Jeffco Elections Division to decide that the recall election should be part of the regular off-year November ballot, thereby saving the district about $500,000 for a special election.

  • Fellman won’t seek re-election to school board

    Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman has decided not to run for re-election this fall, saying she wants to make her family a priority.

  • Schools’ budget approved on split vote

    The Jeffco school district’s 2015-16 budget, which has proved to be the latest dividing line for the fractured school board, was approved last Thursday with the votes of the board’s three conservative members.

    The conservative majority was pleased that the financial plan avoided added expenses, but the board’s two liberal members say the budget shortchanges teachers on pay, and could have met pressing facilities needs responsibly through an alternative financing method.

  • Judge refuses to lift injunction on new-hire pay for teachers

    A Jeffco district judge last Thursday denied a school district request to lift an injunction that prevents the district from paying newly hired teachers at higher salary levels.

    Judge Christopher Zenisek upheld his May decision to freeze Jeffco Public Schools’ recently approved new-hire pay levels, saying the policy could widen the pay gap between existing and newly hired teachers, and lead district employees to believe that the teachers union’s input “is not significant” in compensation discussions.

  • School board adds $2.4 million to budget for teacher raises

    The Jeffco teachers union’s bargaining team on Monday “reluctantly accepted” the school district’s offer for teachers raises, although it fell several million dollars short of what the union requested last week.

  • Donors’ identities concealed in school board campaigns

    Groups on both sides of the contentious Jeffco school board recall election have employed funding methods that conceal donors’ identities.

    Since efforts to recall conservative board members John Newkirk, Ken Witt and Julie Williams were launched in late June, Jeffco residents have been inundated with information from both sides.

    On the incumbents’ side, a nonprofit group with conservative ties has funded television ads featuring Williams that toe — but do not cross — lines that would require it to disclose finances.

  • Longtime school district critic joins recall challengers

    Yet another challenger has emerged in the school board recall election.

    Longtime district critic Regan Benson is running for the District 5 seat currently held by recall target Ken Witt. Also in the District 5 race are veteran Jeffco educator Ron Mitchell and former school board member Paula Noonan. A total of 13 candidates will appear on ballots that will be sent out this month — nine are vying for the three recall seats, including the targets of the recall, and four are competing for the two seats up for regular election in Districts 3 and 4.