One of the most common questions regarding Jeffco Schools 3A and 3B is why we want to change to a K-5, 6-8 configuration. The answer is that when we talked with the community this spring in a series of community forums, telephone town halls, and an online survey, there was a lot of support for the change from parents excited about the additional opportunities.
We currently have highly effective 6-8 middle schools operating in the Evergreen, Conifer, Golden and Chatfield/Columbine/Dakota Ridge areas that send their students to six high-performing high schools. Those schools all outpaced the state ACT average score of 20.4 and together posted an average ACT score of 23.1. Average CMAS scores at West Jefferson, Evergreen, Falcon Bluffs, Deer Creek and Bell middle schools showed 46.2 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations. That’s 16 percentage points above the state average of 30.2 percent. We will replicate these successful models throughout the district.
Moving to the 6-8 configuration will enhance educational programs for all Jeffco sixth-graders. They will have more math, elective and foreign language choices, and we will maintain our commitment to literacy minutes for sixth-grade students.
Each articulation area will take one year to talk with parents, teachers and administrators to develop a transition plan to make the change successful and meet the needs of all students. Jeffco will also continue to provide the appropriate services to all Special Education populations.
Our previous work to transition to 6-8 configurations at West Jefferson, Evergreen, Falcon Bluffs, Deer Creek and Bell middle schools has been successful, and we are confident we will be able to work with our educators to ensure a qualified teacher in each classroom.
The cost of the reconfiguration is $67 million, which will provide an additional 42 classrooms to current middle schools. This is more cost effective than building new elementary schools, and will allow Jeffco to remove some of the 259 portable classrooms.
In addition, because bond interest rates are so low, our board chose a 25-year payback option rather than 15 to lower the annual tax impact for citizens. It will not increase taxpayer burden over the life of the loan, and is a wise choice in the current financial market.
I can assure Jeffco voters that our Board of Education listened carefully to the Jeffco community and heard again and again that our community values all our schools. Let’s work together to ensure our 86,000 students are prepared to be productive citizens and leaders by voting yes on 3A and 3B.