jeffco schools

Jeffco schools adopts 2017-18 budget

The new budget takes affect July 1

Posted 6/1/17

The Jefferson County Board of Education adopted it 2017-2018 budget June 1 with a unanimous vote.

The $978.9 million budget comes with an increase of $18.9 million of funding from the state. …

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jeffco schools

Jeffco schools adopts 2017-18 budget

The new budget takes affect July 1

Posted

The Jefferson County Board of Education adopted it 2017-2018 budget June 1 with a unanimous vote.

The $978.9 million budget comes with an increase of $18.9 million of funding from the state. Jeffco will receive $7,483 per pupil, an increase of $237.66 per pupil. This is above the state base funding level, but below the state average of $7,662 per pupil.

“Although we’re in a little better shape, we have a lot of work to do in the state of Colorado,” said Jeffco board president Ron Mitchell about state education funding.

Highlights from the adopted budget include an additional $3.7 million to be allocated to school based budgeting for one-time use, an increase of more than $20 million for teacher compensation, and the closing of Pleasant View Elementary, which will save the district $662,742 annually.

The upcoming fiscal year will run July 1 through June 30, 2018.

A public hearing on the proposed budget was held at the regular Board of Education meeting on April 20, to provide an opportunity for citizens to address the Board regarding the proposed budget.

Discussions for the 2017/18 budget began shortly after the Board of Educations bond and mill levy package 3A and 3B failed in the November 2016 election. The board quickly named increasing teacher compensation as one of its top priorities, which led the district to draft a list of $20 million in cuts. Included in those cuts was the proposed closure of five elementary schools.

After outcry from the community, the Board decided on closing just one of those schools this year — Pleasant View Elementary in Golden, which closed its doors for good May 23.

In February, following recommendation from Superintendent at the time, Dan McMinimee and his cabinet, the Board voted to eliminate budget cuts to student programing including the Gifted and Talented program at Wheat Ridge High School, literacy interventionists and social and emotional learning specialists.

Even without these cuts, the district identified $20 million in other places to save money, to add to the teacher compensation increases.

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Tom Coyne

Just to be clear: Yes, the current budget includes the current (and insufficient given its growing number of students) $150,000 for the WRHS GT Center program, BUT FOR JUST ONE MORE YEAR. After that, separate funding for the GT Center and IB programs at other high schools will be eliminated, and replaced with an equal block grant to every high school for generic "Pathways" programs, including GT Centers, IB, STEM, and other career pathways.

This will crush WRHS.

Why? Because today WRHS not only has Jeffco's only GT Center HS program, but also one of its best HS STEM programs (which has grown from 16 to over 120 students in three years), one of the best career pathways programs in the state, and some of its most outstanding arts, music and theater programs. WRHS also spends a significant amount on our top notch "literacy triage" team, whose work is critical as 50% of our 9th graders arrive at WRHS reading at a 7th grade level of below (I have yet to hear the school board acknowledge the ugly truth that far too many of our elementary schools are failing to adequately prepare their students for middle and high school).

Under the new funding approach, WRHS will no longer be able to afford all these excellent programs.

The impact of the funding cut will be sadly and maddeningly predictable: (1) the current "One Wheat Ridge" culture will be replaced by increasingly ugly fights between different parent groups over the shrunken budget pie; (2) parents who now choice-in their children to WRHS will abandon the school as course offerings and programs are cut back; (3) teachers will also flee; (4) this will lead to a sharp increase in the percentage of at-risk students at WRHS, likely leading it to join Jefferson and Alameda as the third Title 1 high school in Jeffco; and (5) academic results will decline, and accelerate the vicious cycle of decline.

To their great credit, Griff and his team refused to drink the Jeffco Kool Aid and preside over this upcoming catastrophe. Instead, being stand-up guys and true professionals, they resigned (I'm sorry, the district prefers to use the word "retired").

The still unanswered question is just what it is that the current school board and Jeffco district leadership has against the City of Wheat Ridge.

First they tried to close the elementary schools. Now their actions will likely destroy Jeffco's most diverse high school, and arguably the one that adds more value to ALL its students than any other. That is hardly "progressive." And the impact on Wheat Ridge property values will undoubtedly be significantly negative -- all because of a $150,000 budget item, in a billion dollar budget, in a year when Jeffco has received an additional $18.9 million in state funding and gave its teachers a very big raise (despite the district's poor achievement results).

Unless something dramatically changes, the future doesn't look very bright for either WRHS or the City of Wheat Ridge.

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