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OUR READERS WRITE

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Support for the slate of five board hopefuls

Editor:

As an educator for the past 37 years, the local and national agendas that surround our school environments are near and dear to my heart. Thus, I feel compelled to convey the importance of the Jefferson County school board election.

It has never been more urgent to elect a school board of well-educated, compassionate, dedicated individuals to lead the district with civility, respect for others, integrity and open minds to provide quality educational opportunities that are inclusive while fostering success for all students.

I fully support the following candidates: Brad Rupert, Ron Mitchell, Susan Harmon, Ali Lasell and Amanda Stevens. Each of them will bring the necessary talents, critical attributes and independent thinking to support the development of a successful school system that engages and supports all children. These candidates will be excellent stewards of taxpayer money and respectful of student and parent needs, while guiding the schools with their hearts and minds.

It will be their mission to provide the necessary leadership to support school campuses where, no matter a child’s obstacles or gifts, the student will be provided with highly performing teachers as well as multiple pathways to be successful lifelong learners.

It is our responsibility to vote for a quality education that will ensure a bright future for all.

Ron Castagna, former principal, Lakewood High School

Recall spurred by waste of tax dollars

Editor:

The reason 33,000 Republicans, Democrats and independents supported the recall of three school board members was a result of their dissatisfaction with the waste of taxpayer dollars. Witt, Newkirk and Williams hired a novice superintendent for $280,000, concealed annual legal expenses of $90,000, and spent $120,000 on a public relations director the board’s own representatives found unqualified.

In addition, the board majority has bullied parents and students at school board meetings and released a 17-year-old student’s private information in direct violation of state privacy laws. Most recently, the board majority attempted to remove all parents from the district’s state-mandated accountability committee, showing their disdain for the time and work of Jeffco citizens. When the board majority members ran for their seats, they promised fiscal responsibility and transparency. They have not upheld either part of their bargain with the public.

The reason five of the candidates (Mitchell, Rupert, Harmon, Stevens and Lasell) have joined together to run for the board is not because they share identical views but because they do not have the financial resources needed to run separate campaigns against the board majority, which is supported by Americans for Prosperity, the Independence Institute and the Tea Party. Julie Williams’ TV ads alone have cost three-quarters of a million dollars.

Tragically, more than 1,000 educators have left Jeffco because of the hostile environment created by the board majority. Great districts must be in the business of retaining and attracting the best candidates.

Cheryl Lucas, Littleton

Noonan offers three-point plan for school district

Editor:

I’m running as a successor candidate for the Jeffco school board in District 5.

I’m standing for Jeffco schools as an experienced board member from 2009-13.

Board wars have gone from bad to worse. This demands action. The current three recall members turned teachers, staff and half the community against them. The opposing slate of five will turn the other half of the district against them. This isn’t progress.

Here are three priorities that I commit to.

• The current board uses the state’s standardized PARCC tests for 50 percent of teacher evaluation and compensation. The tests have not proved valid or reliable. This testing component undermines accountability by basing it on false premises. This evaluation and compensation policy must go.

• It’s specious to say that the district’s $500 million capital backlog can be fixed using general operating funds. No business or household runs that way. The district must look at a bond election to keep its enormous facilities investment safe and leakproof, and to provide for growth in the north county. Any other approach confounds reality.

• Choice is integral to delivering quality in Jeffco. Our current ad-hoc charter system cannot do the job. The district must be more responsive within its traditional neighborhood schools and comprehensive middle and high schools. Here’s what I propose: Put at least one core knowledge, language immersion, and STEM program in each of five districts without compromising GT and SPED. Put at least one robust career readiness program at middle and high school levels in the five districts, expanding Warren Tech-type programs south and west.

Our students deserve a district committed to their education, not to politics, ideology, and endless conflict. I will deliver on that commitment. Please vote for me for Jeffco District 5.

Paula Noonan