Geddes responses to: “A Meadows neighborhood school board candidate research questionnaire”
Several of these questions have been previously answered and are included on my website www.drjimgeddes.com. Please refer to this additional information as you wish.
1) What do you think are the top two biggest problems/challenges in the Douglas County School District? And what are your thoughts on how to deal with them?
1) Please see the website for my first of the two “challenges” answers (Implementation, and teacher acceptance of Teacher Pay for Performance). Since Douglas County receives substantially less State funding per student than does Denver, or other surrounding districts, we must be particularly efficient in providing an excellent education to each of our students. Currently, it is my observation that efficiency is held as a high concern for the current board. For instance the BOE has extracted several million from the district’s administrative expenditures — and applied those funds to the classrooms. The entrusting to each school administration (Principal & local parent advisory committee) decisions for spending priorities has improved the quality and appropriateness of these difficult decisions, which are now more specifically tailored to each schools needs.
Until our State economy is allowed to make a meaningful recovery by a needed pro-business government policy, we will continue to experience lean funding for K-12 education here in Douglas County. When funding improves, we must be prepared to rapidly and efficiently further improve our services to our students and parents.
2) What is one misunderstanding/smear about yourself that you would like to set straight?
2) My opponent has mentioned several times that I am not well suited to serve on the School Board Director position since my own children attend a private school here in Douglas County. Both my children have spent a number of years in Douglas Public Schools. Due to our concerns regarding the difficulties we were experiencing with the classroom experiences of our children, we chose to switch to the current setting which has met the needs of our children very well. As our teacher “Pay for Performance” policy matures, I anticipate that every student will have an excellent teacher every year — a teacher who will inspire our children to be “eager learners”, and instill in them a love for school, and a thirst for ongoing learning and intellectual interchange.
3) What is a major principle that would guide your decisions if you were elected to the school board?
3) ALWAYS place the interests of our children/students first, then their parents and families, followed by our teachers, who are by far our most important assets, and whose quality and commitment determine the quality of education within our Douglas County Schools.
4) What are the top three reasons we should vote for you?
4) Please see the website answers.
5) Why do you support/not support Amendment 66 and Common Core?
5) I am against amendment 66 for two reasons:
a) If passed, our citizens will incur a massive tax increase. Douglas County will receive only about 50% of the revenue collected here in Douglas County. (100 million collected, with only 50 million realized by our county) Furthermore, the amendment stipulates that kindergarten be extended to full day (from1/2 day).
The Building of additional facilities to accommodate this expansion, and funding the additional personnel will consume further funds such that in actuality, Douglas County Schools will only benefit about 35 million in return for the 100 million taxed.
I also question the need for full time Kindergarten for all children. We currently offer full day kindergarten to parents who chose this option, at a reasonable charge.
b) I am against a further taxation burden on our citizens, particularly during this time of economic recession. Recovery toward a vibrant economy requires an opposite strategy.
I am against the adoption of the federal Common Core. I believe our own Douglas teachers will do a better job developing a curricula best suited to our students. (Please see the website for further detail)
6) What is your philosophy when it comes to the school district budget and finances? Do you agree or disagree with current practices? Why or why not?
6) I agree with the current practices. Please also see above #1, and the website. Additionally, the creation of a “Rainy Day” fund is both prudent and saves the District $160,000.00 per year — as with such a nominal reserve (17 million, which is one month’s salary for the District’s employees) the district no longer is required to pay for a credit line of that cost.
7) What is your opinion of unions?
7) The teachers’ labor unions have gained control and dominance of our K-12 education system nation-wide over the same time period that we have observed a decline in our K-12 success rates. The teachers unions breed mediocrity and even frank inadequacy as they place their members — the teachers — first and foremost, and our children and parents last. Teachers unions conduct “collective bargaining” with school districts to optimize salaries and benefits and working parameters to the benefit of the teachers. They demand a “seniority” pay scale system that protects and retains underperforming teachers, while ignoring the accomplishments of the excellent teachers. Under such a system, enthusiastic, high quality, effective teachers are not rewarded beyond the occasional “cost of living” raises given to all. The “culture” of entire school faculties may be harmed by the poor performers, as they create obstacles to the success of the excellent teachers.
Additionally, teachers’ unions extract significant resources from our educational funds in the form of teachers’ dues, which diminish teachers’ incomes. In many cases, including Douglas County previously, they have consumed funds by demanding that union employees, who are not teaching, be paid for union administrative work.
Furthermore, teachers’ unions transfer large sums out of the local communities for the support of the national union administration, including monies destined for donation to leftist political agencies and leftist politicians.
A union free Douglas County School District is currently released from the stranglehold of the “Federation of Teachers Association” union, an AFL-CIO affiliate.
The stage is now set for substantial improvements in K-12 education quality, as true “Teacher Pay for Performance” may now mature to the point that every student will have a great teacher every year!!
8) Why do you think Douglas County School District didn’t get the Accredited with Distinction status?
8) Two reasons:
1) The Colorado Dept. of Education changed the criteria for the distinction — with a substantial increase in the rigor of the criteria. None of the districts in the metropolitan area have made that grade.
2) Douglas County’s educational success rate was diminished significantly by the Colorado Dept. of Education’s insistence that the approx. 3,000 students served by the “Hope On-Line” school be included in the Douglas results.
Our school district is a major partner in this project as a public service to these online students — most from outside our county, living around the state — and who are economically underprivileged and come from disadvantaged situations.
This is a very worthy cause and a good example of the caring and giving nature of the citizens of our county — and our school district folks.
9) Do you support parent school choice? Give the biggest/reason why/why not?
9) Yes, most definitely — including a comprehensive “Choice Scholarship” (voucher system) that would allow all parents a substantial financial assistance obtained from the school district should any of our parents determine that a qualified private school setting is best for their own child. Such a parental decision may be in response to the particular characteristics and learning issues of their own child, or in response to the parents’ desire to have their child
learning in an environment that respects and promotes the values and principles they hold dear.
Parents certainly know their own children best — their characteristics, and learning styles and needs. They are best suited to determine which school setting is best for their kids and their family.
Also, of great importance, the granting of such choice to our parents stimulates competition between the several categories of options available (neighborhood schools, charter schools, private schools, home schooling) and even between the individual schools in some cases — all of which I view as a positive influence for the quality of education for our children.
Although I am not a current school board member, I would like to chime in on your question # 11.
11) Why so many closed-door meetings?
As a valid comparison, I estimate that at least 60% of the meeting time of the University of Colorado Board of Regents is spent behind closed doors in “executive session”.
The Colorado “Sunshine” laws apply to the Regents, as I believe they apply to school boards. If the Regents or a school board violates these laws by discussing “policy” in private, then they are in violation. However, individual personnel issues, property issues, and issues requiring legal advice to the board by its attorney, or outside attorneys (the legal advice portion of the discussion only) is allowed and expected to be conducted in private “executive session”.
It does not alarm or surprise me that our school board has spent 50% of its time “behind closed doors”, as such discussions typically consume such significant time spent by most any public education governing board.