In Colorado’s first-ever attempt to give away management of a school district, state officials Thursday provided a preview of what the final order requiring Adams 14 to give up district management could include.
The State Board of Education is expected to approve its final directives to the district later this month.
Thursday, after expressing a lack of trust in district officials who pleaded their case, the state board asked the Attorney General’s office for advice and help in drafting a final order detailing how the district is to cede authority, and in what areas.
Colorado has never ordered an external organization to take over full management of an entire district.
Among details discussed Thursday, Adams 14 will be required to hire an external manager for at least four years. The district will have 90 days to finalize a contract with an external manager. If it doesn’t, or if the contract doesn’t meet the state’s guidelines, the state may pull the district’s accreditation, which would trigger dissolution of Adams 14.
State board chair Angelika Schroeder said no one wants to have to resort to that measure.
But districts should know, the state board does have “a few more tools in our toolbox,” she said.
In addition, if they get legal clearance, state board members would like to explicitly require the district:
Facing the potential for losing near total control over his district, Superintendent Javier Abrego Thursday afternoon thanked the state board for “honoring our request.”
The district had accepted the recommendation of external management and brought forward its own proposal — but with the district retaining more authority.
Asked about the ways in which the state board went above and beyond the district’s proposal, such as giving the outside manager the authority to hire and fire administrative staff, Abrego did not seem concerned.
“That has not been determined yet,” he said. “That will all be negotiated.”
The state board asked that the final order include clear instructions about next steps if the district failed to comply with the state’s order.
Voters in Jefferson County narrowly approved a $567 million bond request that will allow the school district to improve its buildings.
Jeffco Measure 5B, the bond request, initially appeared to have failed, even as voters supported Measure 5A, a $33 million mill levy override, a type of local property tax increase, by a comfortable margin. But as late votes continued to be counted between Election Day and today, the gap narrowed — and then the tally flipped.
With all ballots counted — including overseas and military ballots and ballots from voters who had to resolve signature problems — the bond measure had 50.3 percent of the vote and a comfortable 1,500 vote margin.
In 2016, Jeffco voters turned down both a mill levy override and a bond request. Current Superintendent Jason Glass, who was hired after the ballot failure, made efforts in the last year to engage community members who don’t have children in the district on the importance of school funding. This year’s bond request was even larger than the $535 million ask that voters rejected two years ago.
“We are incredibly thankful to our voters and the entire Jeffco community for supporting our schools,” Glass said in a statement. “The 5A and 5B funding will dramatically impact the learning environment for all of our students. Starting this year, we will be able to better serve our students, who in turn will better serve our communities and the world.”
The money will be used to add new classrooms and equip them, improve security at school buildings, and add career and technical education facilities.