Ten parents and one business owner were selected to be part of the new Jeffco Schools District Accountability Committee (DAC) during an often-contentious selection process at the Jeffco School Board’s Oct. 15 meeting. The selection process was questioned by both sides due to a lack of information about applicants.
“I’m curious why we weren’t given their applications instead of it just being a name,” board member Julie Williams said. “When we voted for the people for the technology committee, we had actual applications to look at, so how did we come up with just names ‘cause I really only know two people on this list?”
“That is exactly what Ms. Fellman is arguing,” board member Lesley Dahlkemper said, referring to Jill Fellman’s concerns that they didn’t have enough information to select DAC members. “When we went through the data committee, we had applications and they were thorough.”
“That was not the case with the business community applications, nor with the parent applications, so it’s a bit of guesswork tonight,” Dahlkemper said. “I would love to get that information so we can make a better-informed decision.”
The application form for the DAC had only asked for basic contact information and the applicant’s school or business affiliation. Fellman and Dahlkemper had argued that the board should outline what information should be on the application in a previous meeting, but the other three board members said it would be sufficient for the district to solicit names.
“This gentleman is unknown to me but on paper looks like a good choice,” board member John Newkirk said, referring Sean Kaiser, chair of the Jefferson County Business Education Alliance. Newkirk noted that Kaiser runs a local restaurant “and most likely employs Jeffco students.”
Fellman responded that Kaiser was an excellent choice, but that there may be other excellent choices among the 15 business community applicants. “I think that’s the problem. We don’t have a process,” she said.
The same concerns were voiced about selecting 10 parent representatives from the 82 applicants, though board president Ken Witt argued that because the criteria was parent representation, they had enough information to make a decision.
Each board member nominated two parent representative candidates and then the board voted on each nomination. In the first round, the board approved eight of the nominations and voted against one of Fellman’s nominations and one of Dahlkemper’s nominations. Board members approved nominations by Williams and Witt in the second round. The superintendent-appointed articulation area representatives and other appointments were also approved by board members. The full DAC membership and meeting schedule are available on the DAC page of the Jeffco Schools website.
The selection represents another step forward in the process of separating the work of the former Strategic Planning Advisory Council (SPAC), which had addressed accountability and strategic planning until recently. The impetus to separate accountability and strategic planning originally came from SPAC parent volunteers, who then worked with district staff to write new proposed bylaws.
The proposed bylaws were presented to the Jeffco School Board at the Aug. 27 meeting and board members suggested changes they would like to see before voting on the new bylaws. The committee presented the revised bylaws at a subsequent meeting on Sept. 24, but Newkirk instead proposed that the board select new DAC members and charge them with writing new bylaws. The proposal was approved and the district began soliciting for applications the following week.