Denver school board members hope to identify a financial advisor within the next couple of weeks to help with pending changes to a controversial 2008 pension transaction. Mary Seawell, the board’s treasurer and chair of its Finance and Audit Committee, said Thursday that she is working with board member Jeanne Kaplan, perhaps the most outspoken critic of the 2008 deal, to find an independent advisor to work with the board.
“The person is going to basically understand the board’s role and responsibility in looking at this deal, translate what it means to us, really make sure we understand it and that we really trust, all of us as a group, the information we’re receiving to make the most balanced decision possible,” Seawell said. “The person is not going to say, ‘You should do this’ or ‘You should not do this’ – that’s our responsibility.”
Kaplan, who was among the board members voting 7-0 to support the $750 million pension transaction, has since said she did not fully understand it – and she’s not sure other board members did either. Questions about the complicated deal were splashed across The New York Times during a bitter Democratic primary battle between Andrew Romanoff and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who pushed for the plan while he was DPS superintendent. It’s also become an issue in Bennet’s general election fight against Republican Ken Buck, as noted in this recent Education Week story ‘Bennet’s detractors hammer on teacher pension.’
Seawell said she and Kaplan are working on qualifications for the advisor, agreeing the person should not be a financial party to any future transaction. They’re debating whether the person should be from outside Colorado. No dollar figure has been set for the short-term hire, who is expected to guide the board through a possible restructuring of the transaction this spring.
“My end goals are, how do we create confidence that this board is capable of evaluating this deal? And, how do we create public confidence in the deal?” Seawell said. She said she’ll ask the entire board to weigh in on the final selection of the advisor.
What’s on tap:
The public is invited to attend a Substance Abuse Resource Fair from 1 to 3 p.m. today at Rock Canyon High School. It’s sponsored by the Substance Abuse Coalition of Douglas County and district reps will be available to provide information regarding policies on medical marijuana, among other things. More info here .
Tomorrow is Denver Public Schools’ Fall Parent Institute, when parents are encouraged to attend workshops and voice their opinions to DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg. He’s scheduled his monthly Superintendent’s Parent Forum to coincide with the institute, held this time at the new Evie Garrett Dennis campus in far northeast Denver. More info here.
Sunday is the Jefferson County Education Association’s Great Pumpkin Rally – teachers will be at Lakewood High School starting at 8 a.m. to “educate voters about the devastating impact of the Bad 3.” That’s ballot initiatives 60, 61 and 101 in case you’ve somehow missed the political ads. If you want to learn more, the pro-initiatives website is here and the anti-initiatives website is here. We’re guessing you already knew that.
The Adams State College trustees are scheduled to meet on campus in Alamosa.