Talk is cheap. Well in many cases it may be, but in the case of kids and their education being held hostage by talk in the Jefferson County School district, it’s not so cheap. We know this because kids are being held hostage by copious amounts of talk, hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of, talk. The Jeffco school board recently held a six hour study session on March 23, 2012. The topic of this meeting: “Effective Governance and Student Achievement.”
The Jeffco School Board along with the superintendent, were being led by a facilitator from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). Prior to this meeting on March 23rd, this same facilitator met with the board in the same capacity for a total of 2.5 hours in November and December 2011. The school district, by way of the taxpayers has paid CASB $3016.90 for the 2.5 hours of this particular facilitator to provide, talk. The hourly conversion rate is in fact $1,206.76 for every hour of talk provided by this facilitator. There is no known reason to the general public as to the necessity for these services or who was responsible for coordinating such. Recently elected (November 2011) Jeffco Board of Education President, Lesley Dahlkemper through her consulting firm Schoolhouse Communications, has previously been under contract and paid for her consulting work through CASB. Public record reveals that as recently as June 2010, Schoolhouse Communications by way of CASB, performed communications audits for local school districts. Public record also reveals that taxpayers in Jefferson County picked up a tab of $7300 in 2006 payable to CASB for a “communications audit” performed by, Schoolhouse Communications.
Jefferson County taxpayers are no strangers at providing financial support to the Colorado Association of School Boards by way of their local school district. Yearly membership dues are required to participate in the services that CASB provides: such as facilitation services, communication audits, and yearly retreats at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs- all of which require payment beyond the annual membership dues.
Jeffco R1 financial transparency reflection of recent expenses paid to CASB:
- Legal Fees/Financial Support to CASB (these dollars are being used directly by CASB to fund the Lobato lawsuit which equates to taxpayer dollars being used to sue taxpayers into providing additional funding for public schools in Colorado)- $84,933.00
- Annual Fees for district membership to CASB – $28,613.00
- Consulting Services- $9,975
- CASB Conference Tickets- $3560.00
- CASB fall conference registration- $2090.00
- Annual Fees for district membership to CASB- $27,792.00
The day was full of “chalk talk” on March 23rd. One might expect that if the general public were welcome at these public meetings, hearing the majority of talk by the five member board would be a compliment to good public service. However, it is often the case that the majority of time board members talk in their public study sessions, they do not use microphones and indicate fear of the general public actually being able to hear what is being talked about.
One of the most audible parts of the meeting on March 23rd, with the facilitator using a microphone, we can hear Director Robin Johnson express her concerns about the board needing guidance from the facilitator on setting the school year calendar. Later in the meeting, we can hear the facilitator quizzing the school board as to whether or not they feel policies have been followed. As the meeting came to a close, board members received a talk on how to set an agenda for a board meeting.
While the school district and others take no issue with spending $1200+/hour on facilitation services and annual dues of $28,000.000 to use facilitation services, school board Director Dr. Paula Noonan laments the future of the Jefferson County School District. On March 1, 2012, Dr. Noonan tells those in attendance at a regular board meeting, “We are looking at falling off a cliff.”
The Jefferson County Board of Education would like to hear you talk during the public comment portion of their regular business meeting on April 5th, 2012 @6pm- the majority board is interested in a tax increase for the November 2012 ballot. If you would like to talk to the President of the Jeffco School Board, Lesley Dahlkemper, she can be reached by telephone through the school district @ 303-982-6620.