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Hundreds share opinions at Jeffco Schools community budget forums

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Hundreds of parents, community members and Jeffco Schools employees attended six Jeffco Schools community budget forums last week to discuss their priorities for the district's 2014-15 budget.

The forums, held in six locations on three days, attracted crowds of 70 to more than 100 people eager to share their budget priorities for Jeffco Schools.

Participants were shown a short video about the budget and then given time to discuss their budget priorities with others at the table. They were also encouraged to share any other issues. After about 15 minutes of discussion, each table was invited to share the priorities they identified.

At Monday's forum at Standley Lake High School, Jeffco School Board members Jill Fellman and Julie Williams listened as common themes emerged from the tables. Increasing teacher compensation, maintaining electives, lowering class sizes, and increasing technology funding were the most commonly-cited priorities.

A Standley Lake High School student told the room that she had researched starting teacher salaries in Jeffco and discovered that they were equivalent to working at Home Depot. She asked the school board members to raise compensation, especially for starting teachers.

Other budget priorities mentioned at the Standley Lake meeting included free full-day kindergarten, athletics, and the Classroom Dashboard.

Participants also mentioned that they would like to see more transparency from the Jeffco School Board, that they were happy with neighborhood schools and didn't want to see them dismantled for the sake of change, and that the promises made in the 3A and 3B campaign should be honored.

Participants at several tables also asked the school board to honor the results of the 2014 Jeffco Schools Budget Survey.

The video shown at the community forums is currently available on the Jeffco Schools homepage in Windows or Quicktime format.

Individual and group responses were collected at the end of the meeting for the Jeffco School Board to use as members work out the 2014-15 budget.

Meetings were also held at Evergreen High School on Monday, at Chatfield High School and Arvada West High School on Wednesday, and at Lakewood High School and Arvada West High School on Saturday.

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