A Jeffco Student Asks John Newkirk, Jeffco Board Member from District 2, a Few Questions
Student: Did you run so you could shut down my school and make all schools charter or private schools?
Mr. Newkirk: What? Of course not; I am a Jeffco graduate and went to neighborhood schools for my education, so did my wife. I ran for the school board because we have three daughters, all of whom have attended our neighborhood schools. Our youngest is in kindergarten. I want all three of our children to get as great an education as we did.
Student: Some of my teachers wore black shirts last week; one told me it was because the school board forced out the superintendent. Why did you do that?
Mr. Newkirk: The Board didn’t do that. Our superintendent, Dr. Stevenson, decided she was ready to do something new and asked the board if we would let her out of her work contract. Together we worked on an agreement which made her happy. Dr. Stevenson has worked in Jeffco her whole life, and I appreciate her hard work.
Student: My mom got an email that said you were going to cut art, music and PE; why would you do that?
Mr. Newkirk: I’ve also heard that rumor, and it is just not true. In fact, I’m interested in how we can make these programs even better in our schools. Art, music, PE, and other electives are very important to me. Thanks to some great Jeffco teachers, I was very active in music and choir as a student. I played flute with the National Repertory Orchestra, and I still play today. So I don’t know who made up such a rumor, but it’s about as out of character for me as anything I can imagine.
Student: Are you going to break the teacher’s contract?
Mr. Newkirk: No, our Jeffco teachers work hard. The board is talking about how to get even more great teachers to come here. We’re talking about how much it will cost to pay teachers more, especially our newest, and we plan to have open negotiations with our teachers association.
Student: Are you going to fire a bunch of our teachers and other Jeffco workers, and replace them with volunteers or pay them so little they want to leave?
Mr. Newkirk: That is another untrue rumor. The board has had no conversations about anything like that. It is very frustrating to me that some people think it is OK to spread rumors that only cause fear and uncertainty. I want to work with all Jeffco employees and community members to see how we can get student achievement higher. We’ve been told there will be about 16 million more State dollars for Jeffco next year. I want to be sure we spend those wisely.
Student: A bunch of students are looking forward to going to outdoor labs; are you going to close them?
Mr. Newkirk: No, I am not going to close outdoor lab schools. Those schools provide a great opportunity for Jeffco students to learn, and I believe are very important to what makes a Jeffco education outstanding. The board is having conversations about how to make that experience more affordable for all Jeffco families.
Student: This was fun, thank you for letting me ask you questions.
Mr. Newkirk: Thank you; you did a great job!