**I helped write this Open Letter to JCPS, which was signed by 10 PTA Presidents, but I have left those names off here in case anyone has changed their minds or wish not to be on the internet forever as having signed this letter.**
The third, and latest, budget proposal in front of the Jefferson County Board of Education, like the two before it, is deeply flawed and deserves to be voted down at the Board’s next meeting. This proposal, and the entire process, violates the stated Vision, Mission Statement and almost every Core Value outlined in JCPS’s published plan for the future, “Vision 2020, Excellence With Equity”, and should not be approved.
As stated in its own documents, The Mission of JCPS’s “Vision 2020” is “To challenge and engage each learner to grow through effective teaching and meaningful experiences within caring, supportive environments.” In addition, “Vision 2020” lists 10 Core Values, some of which include Equity, Excellence, Respect, Opportunity and Collaboration.
If Dr. Hargens truly believes that it is the District’s duty and obligation to “challenge and engage each learner”, then it is disingenuous at best to suggest that reducing funding in any way, for any school, much less high achieving schools, does anything at all to challenge and engage our children. Eliminating services and classes will undoubtedly reduce each student’s opportunity to learn and interact with their teachers, as there will be fewer individualized and differentiated interactions to be had, and could further erode college readiness for these students
The schools that stand to suffer the greatest under the current proposal are the same schools that already receive the lowest average funding per student. JCPS is a taxpayerfunded system. These students have as much right to a fully funded education as any other child, and the fact that they are high performing should not be a reason to reduce their options or opportunities through a further loss of financial support. JCPS can not continue to hold ‘excellence’ up as a core value if it can’t provide excellence to every type of student.
The lack of transparency and clarity during this entire process highlights an egregious lack of respect towards the very people we have entrusted with the education of our children, namely the teachers and administration in every school in Jefferson County. If JCPS expects us to trust our school’s administration with the education and welfare of our children, we, in turn, expect Dr. Hargens and the Central Office to reciprocate and treat all stakeholders with the same high level of respect.
In its “Vision 2020”, JCPS states that it values collaboration and that “relationships, cooperation, and partnerships among students, staff, families, and community are fundamental to the success of our students.” However, we are not aware of one stakeholder at the school, family or community level who was an integral part of the process to develop any of the budget proposals to date. If JCPS would like parents, teachers and school administrators to get on board and follow their lead, perhaps a true collaboration from the bottom up would produce better results than the heavy handed topdown approach that we are currently witnessing.
It is our position that all schools in Jefferson County deserve to be fully funded. We are opposed to any proposal that would reduce the funding to any school for the 201617 school year. The time for finetuning and incremental changes has passed. The challenges we face are real, and we are in need of bold ideas and creative leadership, not the constant erosion of financial support we have seen handed down the past few years. Instead of reducing services for our students and reallocating teacher funding, it is time for our leaders to rework the budget, from the ground up.
We urge the Jefferson Board of Education to reject any proposal that would cut school allocations for 201617, and instead fully fund all JCPS schools, and get to work on establishing a long term budget agreement that will address the academic needs of all students, fix the sad state of our facilities and prepare the next generation of our children for career and college readiness.