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FAQ about April 26

FAQ about April 26
Posted on 04/24/2018

Thank you to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts regarding the announcement that we will be unable to hold school for students on April 26. As you can imagine, we had a wide variety of responses – from "fire everyone who doesn't show up" to "this is hard for my family" to "we fully support our teachers." Below are responses to the most frequently asked questions and comments. I hope you take a few moments to read this and learn more about the issues behind our decision to cancel school for students on April 26. ~Dr. Jason E. Glass, Superintendent

F.A.Q.s Related to Jeffco Public Schools Cancellation of School for Students on April 26

Why is the district allowing teachers to do this?

Jeffco Public Schools did not organize and is not directing this event or date. We take no formal position on this as a political matter. We made the decision to make April 26 a non-student contact day because the number of teachers who put in a request for a substitute indicated we would not have an adequate number of employees in many of our schools to ensure a safe, productive learning environment.

When the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) informed school district leadership they were considering asking members to go to the state capitol on April 26, we began monitoring substitute requests. Once it was clear over 30% of our teachers were going to be absent, and up to 90% in some schools, we decided a non-contact day for students was in the best interest of our students.

Why cancel school for students and not simply use substitute teachers?

There are not enough substitute teachers to cover this number of absences. Over a week before April 26, the number of substitute requests was three times our typical absence rate.

Why don't you make teachers work on April 26?

Like most employers, we offer leave time that can be used when employees choose. When the volume of staff absences made it such that we could not ensure a safe school environment, we cancelled classes.

This is not enough notice, why didn't you tell us earlier?

Jeffco Public Schools is not organizing or directing this event. We shared the news as soon as we made the decision; we made the decision as soon as it was clear we did not have the resources to cover the number of teacher absences.

More than a week's notice of a political action being taken by a group of employees is unusual. We are thankful our teachers care enough about our students to give us notice.

We realize families have child care, work schedules, transportation, and more to deal with and are thankful it was over a week's notice, as opposed to one day or that morning.

Why isn't this scheduled on a better day – Friday, summer, or the end of the school year?

The district had nothing to do with the choice of day. JCEA chose the day, and that question is best directed to them. State legislators are not at the capitol on weekends or during the summer.

Will I be reimbursed for before-/after-school care, preschool tuition, or full-day kindergarten tuition?

If your before- and after-school care is provided by the district (SAE or School-Aged Enrichment) there will be a credit applied in May if you do not use child care on April 26. There are child care options for April 26 available through SAE. You should have received information about the options through SAE staff at your school.

If your before- and after-school care is provided by a private company, they will need to make the determination about refunds.

We're sorry, but preschool and kindergarten tuition will not be reimbursed. Rates are determined on a monthly basis, and unexpected cancellations come up on rare occasions and cannot be refunded on a daily rate.

What about students that depend on school meals?

Our food services staff is providing a sack breakfast and lunch to give all students in our elementary and K-8 schools that have over a 70% free and reduced lunch rate.

Don't schools have enough money? We voted for more funding in 2012, where did that money go?

Schools in Colorado rank 45th in per-student funding compared to the nation. The 2012 "warm, safe, and dry" bond and mill levy override was much appreciated; the funds were invested in capital improvements at almost all our schools. The mill levy override helped stop further reductions planned for FY 2014 and restored lost work days for staff.

Dr. Glass expounded on some of the reasons teachers are walking out on April 26 in a blog post. You can read that here.

We give you a lot of money, what are you doing with it?

We spend public education dollars on the people, services, and materials that make educating our students possible. All public schools in Colorado follow mandatory financial transparency laws, including Jeffco Public Schools. We also go a step further and have all our financial information available online. Our biggest expense is people: teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, food service workers, bus drivers, custodians are the people who teach our kids, who keep our schools operating and safe. Competitive compensation and benefits are one of the key factors to attracting and keeping quality employees who serve our students and community.

Why not cut central staff and give it to the teachers who need it?

Central services have been cut several times in the last decade. Jeffco Public Schools spends about 4% of the compensation budget on central administration. Further cuts to central services will not result in the scale of dollars necessary to make impactful compensation and staffing additions to put buildings and every cut reduces support to schools.

Jeffco Public Schools spends less on central administration than many surrounding districts. Dr. Glass published an On the Issues report on this last October. You can read that here.

Central services includes support for all schools in areas like special education, gifted and talented, curriculum, human resources, student services (counseling, diversity), English language learners, food service, security, transportation, legal services, building maintenance, IT, and more. Only about 0.46% of the compensation budget, or $2 million, of our nearly $800 million general fund goes towards executive-level administration (chiefs and executive directors). Seventy percent of the general fund supports instruction.

Where is all the pot money? Doesn't it fix the school funding shortage?

Some of the state tax revenue from retail marijuana sales funds state education grant programs, but "pot money" is never going to be adequate to fix public school funding.

The entire state is eligible to apply for $40-60 million of school grant funds each year. Jeffco has received $2 million since the inception of marijuana funding. This is less than 0.3% of Jeffco's general fund annual budget for 2017/18. Here are a couple of news stories that illustrate where the money goes:

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