Did you know…..? About Citizens’ Comments?

May 4, 2010

Did you know…..that you can comment at the regular monthly Board of Education Meetings?

There is time set aside in the agenda, usually towards the beginning of the meetings, for citizen comments.
Here is the direction given in their last agenda:

ANNOUNCEMENT OF LOCATION OF CITIZENS’ COMMENTS SIGN-UP SHEET
Members of the public who desire to address the Board on any topic related to Board work are welcome to do so. Speakers will be asked to limit their remarks to not more than 3 minutes and to appoint a spokesperson if the topic is a group concern.

Here are the summaries of the citizen comments from the last Board meeting held on Monday, April 26, 2010:

CITIZENS’ COMMENTS
David Cloud, 18930 Shadowood, summarized his past requests to the school board for information regarding District finances. He also submitted his comments for inclusion in the public record of this meeting. Michelle Asher, 18180 Sunburst Drive, addressed Policy Governance terms from the report presented earlier on the agenda. She expressed her concerns about the increased bus traffic that will occur at the middle school next year, among other issues. Jackie Burhans, 1647 Fallen leaf Way, stated she recently visited Lewis-Palmer Elementary School to meet the 6th grade teachers and was impressed and hopeful overall. She also encouraged the Board to not lose sight of the need to provide good nutrition for
our students, even if Food Services is outsourced. Karen Lincoln, 16043 Red Fox Lane, requested followup information to questions raised at the Town Hall meeting held on March 11, 2010. She also submitted a list of questions to be included in the public record of this meeting.

Click here to view the entire Highlights of the April 26, 2010 Board of Education Meeting

Here are the full comments made available for the public:

FOR INCLUSION IN THE PUBLIC RECORD
CITIZEN’S COMMENT by David J. Cloud
LEWIS-PALMER SCHOOL DISTRICT 38 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
APRIL 26, 2010
On March 23, I submitted requests for information to the board, but have yet to receive a response. So, I want to reiterate those requests this evening.

First: At your November board meeting, you were told:

  • That the District must close a budget gap of at least $3 million next year,
  • That the District would receive a significant increase in current year revenue from the state due to an unanticipated increase in student enrollment, and
  • That increased enrollment at Monument Academy would allow the charter school to place additional funds in reserve.

In addition, you knew that over $1 million in current year state funding was tied to federal stimulus money and that the district was forced to absorb mid-year state funding cuts both last year and this year. At that meeting, you also approved budget adjustments to create a final budget for the current school year, but I didn’t discover until March 18 that those adjustments included over $636,000 in additional spending. Given all the information available to you in November, I’d like you to explain how this decision achieved your stated goal of exercising fiscal responsibility by making financially conservative decisions.

Second: During the three school years from 2006 to 2008, this district hired too many staff members reducing the balance in its savings account by over $6 million. This year, the additional spending approved in November included $349,000 for new instructional staff. Given the problems of the past, I’d like you to explain how hiring new teachers for the current school year with every expectation that all of them would be laid off at the end of the year is in the best long-term interest of this school district.

Third: It is my understanding that the district hired a number of new teachers at the start of the current school year. I’d like you to identify when the new teachers authorized by your spending decisions in November were hired. If any were hired prior to November, I’d like you to identify who authorized the premature expenditure of funds for that purpose and what liability the district would have incurred if the board had failed to approve those expenditures in November.

Finally: According to Colorado state law, the district “shall submit its adopted budget to the Colorado Department of Education on or before January 31 in the approved format. This budget shall include data available to the board of education as of December 31 of the immediately preceding calendar year.” But, the district’s budget submission to the CDE in January did not include any of the adjustments approved in November. Then on February 18 (two days after I sent you a budget analysis that relied on the district’s January submission to the CDE), the district sent a corrected budget to the CDE to replace its original submission. I’d like to know why the district failed to comply with state law when it submitted an incorrect budget to the CDE in January and posted this erroneous information on its website in early February.

All these requests identify legitimate and troubling concerns about the way this school district is being run. As a member of the moral and legal ownership of the District, I believe the entire community deserves answers. I will provide a written copy of my comments to the board secretary for inclusion in the public record to help prepare your response. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.

Comments from Michelle Asher:

Good Evening –

This evening, I noticed in the published agenda that the board would be reviewing the District’s Policy Governance information regarding treatment of students, parents/guardians and community members. I too have been reviewing your policy governance information so that I could have a better understanding of how the district and board works together. Most recently, I have questioned some of the recent decisions that have been made and how they work within the policy governances. For instance, the following policy governance reads….

POLICY GOVERNANCE

1. Monitoring report-Operating Limitations: Treatment of Students, Parents/Guardians and Community Members (2.1)

The Superintendent shall neither cause nor allow organizational circumstances for students, prospective students, their parents/guardians, and community members that are unsafe, untimely, undignified, or unnecessarily intrusive or restrictive.

I would like to address the following words associated with this policy governance:

UNSAFE

I am curious about the recent announcement that was made at our PTO meeting last week about the 38 buses that will be coming into the Middle School. We currently have 20 buses coming in to drop off students and the traffic, at times, has been extremely hectic. For the 2010/2011 school year, we will have 38 buses coming in to drop off students and we will have close to an additional 100 kids attending the Middle School. I would like to know who handled the safety issues associated with the Reconfiguration Models? Which group was tasked with addressing the safety issues associated with each option? And, did you talk to the Department of Transportation about the additional bus & parent traffic?

When I found out about the additional 18 buses dropping off for next year, I asked Terry Miller, Principal of Lewis Palmer Middle School, if anyone had talked to him about our traffic situation and he said ‘NO”. This surprises me because having an additional 18 buses and extra road traffic is a SAFETY ISSUE. I would think the board or our Superintendent would have addressed an important issue like the ‘busing issue’ with the person (Terry Miller) who knows the most about the traffic situation at the Middle School. Having 38 buses roll in (regardless of whether or not you are staggering them) is going to be a nightmare next year. Again, you have indicated that you put a lot of planning into all of this; and yet, I can’t help but question your planning if you knew about the current traffic situation at our Middle School.

UNTIMELY

I have heard repeatedly from parents as to why the board and the superintendent didn’t allow the community more time or at least provide a time line to the community regarding the options and when a decision had to be made. Everything was rushed and there wasn’t enough information provided at the meetings to make a knowledgeable decision about each of the options. And then, in March, we found out that the budget information wasn’t even accurate!!! I do not want to see this happen to our community again !!!!! It is unfair to make such drastic changes that impacts so many kids especially when you didn’t event provide our community with accurate information; such as the ‘actual’ budget situation and all the costs associated with the transition. And, most importantly, the safety implications associated with each option. If you did your homework, as you have indicated, the busing issue should have been addressed with each of the options when Dr. Blanch was presenting this information to the parents in the community meetings. The ‘Safety issues’ were not even addressed in these parent discussions.

UNDIGNIFIED

When you look this word up. It states that undignified means lacking in or damaging to dignity. Dignity means – a state of being worthy or honorable; elevation of the mind or character; true worth; excellence.

I believe that the way in which this transition was handled was undignified and because of this – you have lost the communities trust. I am tired of the positive twist our district office continues to put out regarding this transition. They imply in their communications that everything is just looking great and wonderful and there are no issues associated with this transition. There are issues associated with this transition. To me – the district is misrepresenting what is ‘really going on’ with the parents and the teaching staff. Some parents have come forward; but, many of them have felt that their advice and comments have fallen on deaf ears..

As far as the teacher’s having an input. Well, I believe teacher’s have lost their voice. Many of them have been threatened and insulted for voicing their opinions and all you have to do is look at the Survey from Spring 2009 to see that the morale was low last year and with all that has happened — it has even gotten worse. I would ask some of the board members to go out and talk to the teachers without the Superintendent and find out what is really going on out there …… Do something!!!!

You have indicated that we have great teachers. Well, how exactly do we plan to keep them around when their salaries have been frozsen for two years. And, there is fear that they can’t voice their opinion due to retaliation from the district office. Also, next year in the the Middle Schools, we are asking the teachers to take on an additional 7 students per each class. Again, I encourage you to take a closer look at what is really going on out there. Thank you for your time.

Questions from Karen Lincoln:

FOR THE PUBLIC RECORD

Lewis Palmer D38 School Board Meeting

April 26, 2010

Questions Submitted:

  1. What happened to the $900,000.00  that was brought up at the March 11, 2010 town hall meeting?
  2. What are the exact costs of converting CMS to an elementary school?
  3. What are the exact costs of transitioning into one middle school ?
  4. How many current students will return to D38 in the fall?  How is the number confirmed?

What are your concerns? Let your voice be heard. The next regular Board of Education Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 20, at 6:00p.m. (Location to be determined – please check the BoE website homepage link or this site for updates on meeting information.)

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