contract details

Jeffco board unanimously approves three-year contract for new superintendent

Eagle County Superintendent Jason Glass on a school visit (photo from Eagle County Public Schools).

The school board for Jeffco Public Schools voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a contract that will pay incoming Superintendent Jason Glass $265,000 a year.

The contract lacks the performance-pay clauses that were a key component of his predecessor’s deal.

Glass, the current superintendent of Eagle County Schools, was named the sole finalist for the Jeffco job two weeks ago after a national search. He is set to begin his new role July 1.

The last Jeffco superintendent, Dan McMinimee, had a contract with a base salary of $220,000. He also earned earned $20,000 in performance bonuses in his last year — half of the maximum he could earn.

McMinimee could earn additional pay by meeting a number of goals, including if the district scored higher on state tests.

Before McMinimee, long-time Jeffco superintendent Cindy Stevenson’s contract outlined an annual base salary of $201,328.

Glass earns $202,342 annually leading the nearly 7,000-student Eagle County district, according to what he reported on his application for the Jeffco position.

His contract in Eagle County, first signed in 2013, started him with a base salary of $175,000 and tied his salary to the movement of teacher salaries. In the latest version, signed in 2016, Glass could earn up to a 4 percent raise each year depending on his performance evaluation, but only if teacher salaries were not cut that same year. Effective July 1, his salary would be frozen if teacher salaries also froze.

Earlier this spring, officials from the Ray & Associates firm hired to lead the search suggested advertising the base salary for the position at $300,000 so the job could be competitive with other large districts around the country.

Glass’s three-year contract with Jeffco outlines an annual performance evaluation that will not be tied to his salary or raises, and that will be kept confidential “to the extent permitted by Colorado law.”

Under Colorado law, principal and teacher evaluations can be kept confidential, but there’s an exception for superintendents. Their evaluations relating to “fulfilling the school district objectives,” must be “open for inspection.”

Glass will also get a $750 monthly car allowance and the district will cover his moving expenses, according to the contract. The district also will contribute an amount equal to 7 percent of his annual salary to a retirement account each year.

At Tuesday’s special board meeting, most of the speakers during a public comment voiced support of the new superintendent and the process for selecting him.

Glass, who spoke after the board vote, said that he is excited to work in Jeffco and that he will call on the community to work with him to help overcome the challenges of ignorance and poverty.

“Those are our enemies,” Glass said. “It will take this community standing together to beat them.”

diversity plan

Advocates call on Chancellor Fariña to take ‘morally necessary’ steps to end school segregation

PHOTO: Patrick Wall
Chancellor Fariña spoke about school diversity at a town hall in District 3 in 2015. She is seated next to Superintendent Ilene Altschul, second from right.

The deadline is fast approaching for New York City officials to release their “bigger vision” plan to promote school diversity, and advocates are once again demanding more input on the final proposal.

In a draft letter obtained by Chalkbeat, a self-described group of “parents, students, educators, advocates and elected officials” pushes the education department to declare integration a priority, include the community in any plans that will be put forward, and to adopt “systemic” approaches to desegregate city schools.

“We do not pretend that it will be easy,” states the letter, which is addressed to Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “But we insist that it is logistically possible, educationally sound, and morally necessary.”

In April, Councilman Brad Lander presented a similar letter to members of the “New York City Alliance for School Integration and Desegregation,” or ASID — a relatively new group of desegregation advocates from across the city.

Councilman Lander’s office declined to comment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the education department have said they will release a plan to address school segregation by June. The state has one of the most segregated school systems in the country, driven in large part by New York City, and advocates have been pushing for years for a large-scale remedy.

In 2015, advocates sent a similar letter to the department that included some of the same requests, including the adoption of a formal policy statement making integration a priority. When asked about that in an August 2016 interview, Fariña told Chalkbeat: “Proclamations, without a plan of action, are proclamations.”

A new element of the advocate’s proposal calls for integration efforts to start in pre-K. Parents can apply to any of the city’s universal pre-K sites, but pre-K classrooms are more segregated than kindergartens, according to a recent report. The letter also calls for the education department to set “measureable goals” towards desegregation.

In recent years, the education department has moved forward with some plans to increase diversity in schools, such as allowing schools to set aside a certain percentage of seats for students who are low-income, learning English, or meet other criteria. But advocates have criticized that approach as piecemeal and are eagerly awaiting the city’s promised diversity plan.

See full letter below:



Revised Letter to DOE 5 5 17 (Text)

schools' choice

Betsy DeVos’s comments on discrimination drew headlines, but her stance isn’t unique among private school choice backers

PHOTO: Matt Barnum
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at Providence Cristo Rey in Indianapolis.

Betsy DeVos drew incredulous reactions this week when she said she would let states decide on the rules for voucher programs vying for federal money — including whether schools that discriminate against LGBT students could participate.

But the education secretary’s position isn’t out of the mainstream among voucher supporters, or out of step with how private school choice programs work across the country.

For instance, Robert Enlow of the Indianapolis-based EdChoice, a group that advocates for vouchers, emphasized that his group does not support discrimination but declined to take a position on whether private schools that receive public funds should be prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

“As an organization we are working [toward] our position” on that issue, he told Chalkbeat, the day before DeVos’s comments to Congress. “It is something we are concerned about and that we need to confront head on, but we don’t have a position yet.”

That stance is also reflected in model private school choice legislation from the American Federation for Children, the advocacy group that DeVos used to lead. It says only that schools should comply with federal discrimination law, and does not include rules regarding sexual orientation. A spokesperson for the group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Voucher programs give families public funds to pay private school tuition. The vast majority of private schools in the country are religious; in Indiana there are just seven non-religious private schools participating in the state’s voucher program, compared to nearly 300 Christian schools.

Federal law bans discrimination based on “race, color, or creed” in private schools that receive tax exemptions but is silent on the issue of sexual orientation. According to a 2016 study, no school voucher program in the country includes such protections, meaning that students or families who elect to participate may have no legal recourse if they face discrimination based on sexual orientation.

And a number of schools that are part of publicly funded private school choice programs in Indiana, North Carolina, and Georgia — initiatives backed by national school choice groups — include explicitly anti-gay language.

Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, says in its handbook that it may refuse admission or expel a student for “practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity, promoting such practices, or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school.”

Another Indiana school highlights differences between public schools and private Christian schools on its website, including that while teachers in public schools “may be straight or gay,” those in private schools are “committed believers seeking to model Christ before their students.” Both schools participate in Indiana’s school voucher program.

Choice programs differ. Some, like Washington, D.C.’s federally backed initiative, prohibit discrimination based on religion or gender, while other don’t. Attempts to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in D.C.’s program have been voted down by Republicans in Congress.

Public schools are not free from discrimination, according to survey data compiled by GLSEN, a group that pushes for fair treatment of LGBT students in school. According to the survey, LGBT students reported experiencing more discrimination in private religious schools as compared to public schools — but were less likely to experience verbal or physical harassment in private schools.

Supporters of school choice worry that banning discrimination would stop some private schools from participating in voucher programs and prevent them from practicing their religion.

“If you support private school choice, then you have to be comfortable with allowing private schools to remain private,” Michael Petrilli of the conservative Fordham Institute said earlier this year. “One part of that is allowing them to be religious, to have a set of values they believe in, and to have an admissions process to make sure kids are a good fit for their program.”

Enlow pointed to research compiled by EdChoice that private schools instill a greater sense of tolerance and civic virtue than public schools.

Enlow suggested that questions of discrimination can be addressed locally. “We believe that families and schools working together can solve this,” he said.