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Hitting Home

Welcome to a world of change in Jeffco


One of the radio personalities I listen to on a regular basis is Mark Schlereth. Remember Mark? He was an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos during their first two Super Bowl titles in 1998 and 1999, has been a football analyst for ESPN, and now co-hosts the morning show on The Fan radio in Denver.

Last week he was talking about the well-publicized shakeup at ESPN, which resulted in 100 people being let go, many of whom were his friends. And, regarding his thoughts on it, he said something that really struck me: "God is in control; change is good; and I am on an adventure."

Following that logic, all of Jefferson County School district is now on a ridiculous, great adventure.

Start with "change is good." In the West Arvada area, we have been told that all of our elementary schools and middle schools will transition the sixth grade to the middle schools the year after next. Never mind that a high-ranking Jeffco official told a room full of people at West Woods Elementary in September that the north area would not make this transition for 3-5 years, we're on task to do this now in a year. I'm not positive the exact same message is going out to the entire district, but we are preparing as if it has.

Then we learned this week that the School Board has narrowed its finalist list for the superintendent's job to one person. So, we're going to have a new boss soon.

Add to that, three members of this school board are set to stand for re-election in the November, since their initial election two years ago was a special election coming off the recall of the old school board. Whether or not we end up with a new school board or not, that means a lot of business is going to get eaten up by election insanity.

Then take up "control." Since I'm pretty sure God doesn't meddle in the minutiae of school board issues, this is a fluid situation. Like I said, we'll have a new boss managing the whole process, and we may have a different school board guiding him, so it's hard to know if the agenda is going to remain the same. Some of my colleagues have been told several conflicting things by their bosses about the sixth grade transition, so it's also possible that the "agenda" is already in doubt. As to implementation, there is no consistent, coherent message being delivered as far as exactly how the middle schools are to assimilate the sixth grade, so control is diffused.

Which leaves a lot of questions unanswered. What happens to sixth grade teachers? Already, half a dozen of my sixth grade teammates have found new jobs for next year, in preparation to avoid the chaos year after next. Will the schools provide assistance to get sixth grade teachers the additional credentials necessary to teach middle school? And how are the middle schools going to handle Art, Music, Physical Education and other programs like Outdoor Lab? And all those are secondary to the obvious questions about spaces, construction, time and funding.

Am I worried about this? No. I may be uncertain about exactly who is in control of all this, but, one thing I am certain of is that I am NOT in control of it. So I do what I can, and don't worry about the rest. That's the adventure part - sometimes, it's like being the skier who accidentally wanders onto a black diamond slope: I'm just keeping my feet, waiting for the flat spot, hoping there's more laughter than pain at the end.

One thing I can tell you is this: if you are an interested observer of the public schools, pop some popcorn and pull up a comfortable chair. The next 18 months should provide plenty of entertainment.


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