Blog Archives

One Quarter of Dougco Teachers Drop Union

July 31, 2014

ABC-appleThe teachers’ union representing the Douglas County school system has lost one-quarter of its membership, signaling a growing frustration within the ranks that dues are used to finance politics instead of professional development.

The significant drop in membership of the Douglas County Federation (DCF) was revealed in a July 21 letter from two board members to Courtney Smith, union president, and was based on the union’s most recently released tax returns.

The letter pointed to the drop in membership as undeniable proof that teachers had chosen the district over the union and the need for major changes within the organization.

The letter called for union leaders to “unequivocally reject” five financial practices, including the use of dues for elections and a means of political leverage on the board, demands the district pay dues without providing a return of services, and failing to use union funds for professional teacher development.

“You should strongly stand for not pulling money out of the classroom to run a union,” said the letter signed by Kevin Larsen, board president, and Doug Benevento, vice president. Read more »

Douglas County Votes Down Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Program

July 16, 2014

The Douglas County Board of Education Tuesday voted unanimously against continued involvement in the National School Lunch Program for high schools — a program that was endorsed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Recent changes in the lunch program that include tight federal restrictions on specific nutrition choices, are part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a measure cheered by Obama in her push for legislated child health initiatives.

“This smacks of nanny state interference,” said board president Kevin Larsen in rejecting the federal directives. “Is the next step to start inspecting their bag lunches and start parenting instead of our parents parenting? Are they going to come and monitor your kitchen?”

Aside from the federal invasiveness the first lady’s initiative is built upon in principle, the program’s restrictions also present practical problems for kids’ bellies and schools’ budgets.

“Kids are throwing away twice as much food as last year,” ABC News reported in a video clip shown as part of an in-depth presentation by Douglas County’s Director of Nutrition Services Brent Craig. Read more »

Jeffco School’s New Leader Takes the Reins on Tuesday

June 30, 2014

Dan McMinimee

Dan McMinimee

LITTLETON — Making a difference is Dan McMinimee’s top priority when he begins his new job Tuesday as superintendent of Colorado’s second largest school district.

“I don’t do things for money,” said McMinimee. “I do things because it’s where I think I can make the most difference.”

In an exclusive interview with The Observer as McMinimee prepared to take the reins at Jefferson County Public Schools, the new administrator expressed his vision for the district and responded to criticisms that were repeatedly raised by the public and the teachers’ union at recent board meetings.

A controversial 3 to 2 decision from the school board June 5 ultimately solidified McMinimee’s contract and he accepted the offer without proposing any revisions. Read more »

Board Balks at Jeffco Teachers’ Union Contract

June 6, 2014

Teachers and parents line-up to attend contentious Jeffco meeting.

Teachers and parents line-up to attend contentious Jeffco meeting.

GOLDEN — The Jefferson County School Board rejected a tentative contract agreement with the teacher’s union in a 3-2 vote Thursday night because it failed to contain specific language about teacher performance and salaries.

Teachers with a “partially effective” evaluation rating could essentially have the same pay raise rate as those with “effective” or “highly effective” ratings.

Sheila Atwell, executive director of Jeffco Students First, said the tentative contract “gives raises to teachers that are less than effective, which is exactly contrary to the goal of supporting an effective teacher in front of each classroom.”

Some teachers ranked higher on the evaluation scale could even be overlooked for pay raises, a factor that contributed to the vote against accepting the agreement. Read more »

McMinimee Elected Jeffco Superintendent, Despite Union Protests

May 28, 2014

GOLDEN – Daniel McMinimee was elected as the new superintendent of the Jefferson County school system during a raucous Tuesday night meeting despite disruptions from hundreds of pro-union supporters, several of whom were escorted from the room by police.

The vote split 3-2 with pro-reform members Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk voting yes, and pro-union board members Lesley Dahlkemper and Jill Fellman voting no.

The meeting room was filled to its 300 capacity with mostly union members and activists intent on impeding the process by shouting down the proceeding or interrupting with loud clapping.

At least four people were removed by police for their unruly behavior, actions that drew loud cheers from the disorderly crowd.

Protestors chanted the union’s slogan “stand up for kids” and heckled the board with shouts of “I can’t do my job,” “This is a sham,” and “We don’t trust you.”

The behavior and comments annoyed some in the audience who said the focus should be on the students and not on the teachers’ union. Read more »

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