On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Coloradans for the Common Good (CCG) convened a Jefferson County Public School Board Candidate Forum with over 150 leaders countywide, including district Education Support Professionals and other educators, parents, students, religious leaders, and community supporters. Wednesday's gathering was the county's largest School Board Candidate event this election season. Attendees secured commitments from candidates to work with CCG on proposals concerning the understaffing and the district generating millions of dollars, selling unhealthy snacks to students, and others. The full agenda can be seen here.
Chronic understaffing in the district puts students and staff members at risk. At the action, Eileen Wahlmeier, a paraeducator at Arvada West High School, shared a moment when understaffing has had a profound impact on the safety of our schools: "During a potential threat event, I had to run into the hallway by myself to get a non-verbal student who loved to plop and not come into the classroom. As I ran towards her, I was terrified and listening for screams and gunshots, but all I could think about was how two other paraeducators and I would protect and get eight high-needs students to safety."
All five candidates, Michelle Applegate and Thomas Wicke from District Three and Joel Newton, Amara Hildebrand, and Erin Kenworthy, from District Four, committed to working with CCG. Four candidates, Applegate, Hildebrand, Newton, and Wicke, committed to working with CCG on the entire Agenda for the Common Good. However, one candidate, Kenworthy, would not commit to developing a plan to address outsourcing.
"I recently witnessed a car service company let an autistic student out of their vehicle without properly escorting them to the school,” said Trevor Byrne, a bus driver in Jefferson County Public Schools. "Luckily, I was able to jump off my bus and intervene, but how much longer will we allow the district to gamble with the lives of our students before we say no more?"
All five candidates committed to meet with CCG leaders within 60 days of their term, if elected, to begin working on this agenda together.