School board changes are blooming
January 23, 2014
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There was a major shift of power and philosophy in Jefferson county. The new school board brings in a new agenda that is different than the current one. John Newkirk, Ken Witt, and Julie Williams all won seats in the school board in the election on November 5th. The selection of these conservative candidates supports the idea that voters are in favor of having a greater say in the decisions and policies being made. This leans towards the possibility of more charter schools, or other option schools within the district.
Indeed, the voice of parents was heard loud and clear when the school board voted two days after the election to postpone implementing a new student dashboard data sharing program. The dashboard was estimated to potentially free up 1,400 hours a year. This would have allowed teachers more time for planning, teaching, grading and decision that they otherwise would not have.
The proposed software inBloom was very controversial in regards to the fact that nearly 85,000 Jefferson County public school students will have all of their personal information on a virtual database. Supporters saw it as a technological breakthrough, while opponents view it as an invasion of their privacy. Parents were concerned about the cyber attack or possible invasion of their children’s privacy, including information such as students grades, disciplinary records, and health care information. All of the data would be stored in a single and virtual data cloud. While this system could be efficient and save lots of time, parents thought it was not worth the possible privacy invasion.
The parents opposition to inBloom reflected the fact that their voice was being heard when Jeffco schools unanimously voted to uproot the system that would have been input as soon as next year. This was done in compliance of parents’ requests.The company has received resistance from other school districts nationwide in addition to Jeffco.
There are more changes to look out for other than the rejected dashboards of the Georgia based company inBloom. Cindy Stevenson, long-time superintendent of public schools, has announced that she will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Looking towards the future, Jefferson County Education Association President Ami Prichard states, “our collective bargaining agreement is in place, and we hope to maintain that.” She also stated that “The future of Jeffco is definitely up in the air at this point. We are very 100% committed to make sure that we do everything that we can to meet the needs of our kids.