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New school board is actually more open than the old one
Editor:
In response to Greg Romberg’s column of Dec. 25: Maybe Mr. Romberg should investigate the actual facts.
First, the board has had its own attorney. In the past, the hiring of said attorney was done behind closed doors with no public notice. We should be applauding the new board majority for hiring an attorney in public and increasing transparency.
Second, according to policy and past practice, RFPs for professional services are rarely done by Jeffco for professional services and even more rarely discussed in public. For example, there was no public process to select Caplan and Earnest nor the law offices of Carrie Kollar, two law firms hired by previous boards with no public process or conversations. Nor have there been public conversations about hiring Marilyn Saltzman or Nada Guinta, who provide marketing consulting to the district and are listed on board President Lesley Dahlkemper’s website as associates. Again, we should be applauding the “new majority” for the increase in transparency.
Third, the agenda item to hire Miller Sparks was added to the agenda on a Monday after the board found out the attorney that worked for the district was resigning. Why didn’t the superintendent tell board members about the resignation earlier? Now maybe that is a question you could be asking. All board members were free to do whatever homework they felt necessary to be prepared to discuss the topic. Any board member could have made a motion to table the decision; however, while the board attorney will not replace the attorney who worked for the school district, it would certainly have been advantageous for the board attorney to have conversations with the outgoing attorney before his employment terminated. That would not have been possible had the decision been tabled.
Fourth, the district spent more than $400,000 with Caplan and Earnest last year, nearly $75,000 with the law offices of Carrie Kollar,  and was spending more than $150,000 for in-house counsel who provided assistance with agendas, staffing issues and other support for the board. Clearly, past boards have not found these expenditures a ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars.
Romberg’s assertion that some laws or policies have been broken without providing any proof clearly speaks more about his desire to show the new board majority in a bad light than a willingness to admit that having this conversation in public increased the level of transparency of hires for professional services.
I hope Romberg will do more research in the future before giving the Jeffco school board low marks. We should appreciate the new board’s willingness to shed more light on normal board business and commend all five board members for setting goals for higher academic achievement.
Maureen Sielaff
South Jefferson County

Editing of posts on PTA website amounts to bias, censorship
Editor:
I write to point out some shenanigans going on in a public organization … an organization that I think all would agree should be nonpolitical.
I am speaking of the Jeffco Parent Teacher Association, which is presided over by former board member Michele Patterson.
The new conservative board is coming under some criticism for its hiring of an attorney. Patterson, as page administrator for the Jeffco PTA, posted an article that criticizes the board’s decision. Respondents sought to place the issue in perspective by noting that the last board spent $400,000 on an outside attorney and $270,000 to an outside communications services company … all without public input.
Even worse … the outside communications specialist, Marilyn Saltzman, is associated with board President Lesley Dahlkemper’s consulting firm.
My bone of contention (at the moment) is Patterson’s deletion of opposing views and the banning of those authors from posting to the page.
Should this public organization be run as a personal political fiefdom? Should she be using her position to edit what information is available to the public? I say no.
Steve Dorman
South Jefferson County

What is the true motivation for wanting to expand commission?
Editor:
I see that a group wants to expand the county commissioners from three to five.
Why? Is it to provide better representation, or to change the makeup of the body to suit them?
I have my suspicions.
It’s kind of like the minimum-wage argument. How much is enough? For some in the dogfight, there is no limit, it seems.
Larry De Cicco
Evergreen

Fee for lawyer could be used to hire two excellent teachers
Editor:
Recently the Courier reported on the new school board’s decision to hire an attorney at $90,000 a year for 30 hours per month of work. This may very well be a reasonable fee for excellent legal services, and the man hired may be a great choice, but the way the process was carried out raises questions about how this board will operate. Columnist Greg Romberg presented four excellent points about the board’s mistakes.
Here’s No. 5: Public education seeks, most importantly, to educate students.
Two extraordinary teachers can be hired for an entire year for less than $90,000. I know, because that’s more than twice my salary. Jumping to the conclusion, without input or due process, that one superb attorney working 7.5 hours per week on behalf of the board can help our kids as much as two superb teachers working a total of 80 hours per week with students seems like a poor choice to me.
I’m not a union teacher, and I support, among other reforms, measures that would attract and develop more great Jeffco teachers by professionalizing our field and introducing wise and dynamic (in other words, learning is about much more than test scores) performance-based pay. Actions like this hire, however, have me very worried about the board’s view of Jeffco students and the teachers who make a difference in their lives on a daily basis.
Travis Macy
Jeffco teacher
Evergreen