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All voices should be heard on Jefferson County school board
Editor:
In response to Marilyn Saltzman’s letter last week, it seems perfectly clear that as a former employee and current contractor of the school district, she would be in favor of not seeing any challenges to the current direction of the Jeffco school board. What is disrespectful is claiming that disagreement is “not a model of good citizenship.” What Saltzman considers incivility would be honest debate were the shoe on the other foot.
How about listening to all the voices throughout the community and not just the one that aligns with your point of view?
The slate that she supports will not encourage more openness and transparency, they won’t protect student data from being dumped into a national database, they don’t see that teachers are professionals who deserve to be respected with a 21st-century compensation model — their answer for everything is more demands on the taxpayer.
I am voting for the slate with deep Jeffco ties:
John Newkirk is the father of three daughters in Jeffco schools, and both he and his wife are Jeffco graduates. He has spent decades thinking about and caring about education. He has focused on literacy as a community volunteer and believes every child deserves a quality education.
Julie Williams is the mother of two Jeffco students, one a special-needs child and the other in the gifted-and-talented program. Both she and her husband are also Jeffco graduates. As the co-chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee, she deeply understands the needs of students at both ends of the spectrum.
Ken Witt is the father of four, three of whom already graduated high school, with his youngest still a student at Columbine High. As an information technology expert, his voice is necessary on the school board during this time as the district debates the pros and cons of data integration and sharing. He will ensure that student records are kept safe by stopping the implementation of inBloom and keeping Jeffco student data out of the national database experiment.
I want my voice heard, so I am voting for Williams, Newkirk and Witt.
Kim Egan
Evergreen

Slate of candidates will ensure Jeffco school district remains excellent
Editor:
As a former Jeffco school board member for many years, I know how important it is to elect people to the board who believe in public education and care about kids. Make sure you vote in this election.
Jefferson County is blessed to have one of the best school districts in America. Please vote for Tonya Aultman-Bettridge, Jeff Lamontagne and Gordon Van de Water. All three are exceptional leaders, committed to doing what is best for children and very experienced in public service.
Their opponents, on the other hand, Newkirk, Williams and Witt, leave a lot to be desired. If you don’t believe creationism should be part of the curriculum and if you don’t want teachers having weapons in schools and if you don’t want school vouchers, which would destroy Jefferson County Public Schools then don’t vote for them. We have had enough Tea Party politics and people who want to undermine our public institutions.
So please vote in this election. Don’t let a poor turnout elect anti-public-education people to our school board.
Jon DeStefano
former Jeffco school board president

Williams, Newkirk, Witt are best choices for school board
Editor:
I am concerned about student achievement as well as student data privacy. Any close inspection of Jeffco test performance will show that third-grade reading has not increased appreciably in more than five years. There are three candidates who will continue with the status quo while claiming to do the opposite.
Williams, Newkirk and Witt support paying teachers like the professionals they are rather than basing compensation on an outdated labor model. They want to raise expectations for every student in Jeffco — from special needs to gifted and talented and all those in between.
In addition, they are willing to move public comment earlier in the evening of school board meetings to make it easier for parents and staff. They will ensure that all voices can be heard and respected. The other candidates continually bemoan the fact that school board meetings are occasionally contentious and that by electing them meetings will be more “civilized.” However, this is what happens when there are diverse opinions. Sure, electing more of the same might sound agreeable, but this silences at least half the community.
I am going to vote for Williams, Newkirk and Witt, as I trust their intentions are honorable and they will follow through with their convictions.
Maureen Sielaff
Jefferson County

Asking too much based on too little info
Editor:
Greg Romberg may be right: We don’t provide enough resources to adequately prepare future generations to lead our state.
But before we rush to the polls to vote for Amendment 66, raising our taxes by nearly $1 billion per year, over and above what we’re already paying in income taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes for education, let’s see four numbers.
No. 1: The total amount we Coloradans spend each year on K-12 education.
No. 2: The amount we spend on teachers who actually teach.
No. 3: How much we spend on buildings, books, computers, footballs and other things kids actually use.
No. 4: How much we spend on overhead. It’s the total minus the essentials. Overhead includes administrators, assistant administrators, their staffs and subordinates, their offices, the contractors and consultants they hire, their expenses for travel, conferences, studies, reports, reviews, plans and more paperwork for actual teachers.
After we see the numbers, let’s talk. If we can’t see them before we vote, then let’s vote down Amendment 66. This will give time for Greg and other proponents of tax increases to justify them, simply and solidly.
Charlie Fisk
Evergreen

It’s time to change how we fund public education
Editor:
A shift in how we fund public education in the United States is long overdue. It is a worthwhile goal to pursue equal per-pupil spending in every state regardless of local property valuations, so that all public school students receive the same level of education. It would be well to consider the idea of equal per-pupil spending on education in our state, but not with Amendment 66. It sounds good on paper, but it is too broad and too loose. Before voting “yes” on Amendment 66, voters should consider the following:
• Amendment 66 does not specifically promise a particular level of funding to the individual art, music and physical education programs advertised on television.
• Amendment 66 does not do away with property-tax levies for schools, which means that people will not only be paying property tax for education in their districts, but will also be taxed for education on their individual incomes. In Jefferson County, approximately half of every homeowner’s property tax bill is dedicated to education. The rest must cover all other services provided by the county: police and fire protection, water and wastewater services, roads and bridges, and recreational facilities, among others.
• Amendment 66 will be locked into the Colorado Constitution, and nearly half of all state income, excise and sales taxes will be set aside for public education, leaving the other half for all the other programs such as infrastructure, emergency funding and public assistance. If economic reversals reduce state revenue, public education gets a guaranteed 43 percent of whatever revenue is taken in, right off the top, regardless of need elsewhere. That’s too much, considering all the services that citizens have come to rely upon for their health and safety.
Income taxes for education, on top of property tax already earmarked for education, will impose an unfair burden, especially on seniors, singles, part-time workers and others who are just making ends meet in this time of low job numbers and slow economic recovery.
Many well-meaning citizens brought this issue to the ballot, and many, many parents in Colorado work hard to help their kids. However, there is no magic money bullet that will improve all poor student performance. Voters who believe that approving Amendment 66 is going to make their kids into scholars might do better to consider how they can support their own children’s efforts in school; they might have to make an effort to monitor their children’s school experience, discipline their children’s performance, and participate in their local school community so that they know what is going on in their district and have a voice in correcting problems.
Carolyn S. Bredenberg
Littleton