Board president notes AAPI American Heritage Month and VP Bates seeks re-election
At the regular Cherry Creek School District Board of Education (CCSD) meeting on May 10, school board vice-president Kelly Bates announced she would run for re-election to a second four-year term in November. Board president Karen Fisher will step down from the board in November, due to term limits. The only current board member who has served longer than Bates is current Board Secretary Janice McDonald, who is in her sixth year, thus will be term-limited in two years.
In her remarks to the board and parents at the start of the meeting, Fisher announced that, “May is Asian American Pacific Islander American Heritage month, a time to pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental to its future success. The month of May was chosen to coincide with the arrival of Japanese immigrants to the United States in May of 1843 and the completion of the trans-continental railroad built primarily by Chinese workers in May of 1869.”
She added that May is also Jewish American Heritage month, “a time to pay tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who have helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society.”
The board president noted that, because the general assembly began its 2021 session late due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CCSD still does not know the details of this year’s School Finance Act. As a result, Fisher explained that the regular June board of education meeting will be held later in the month than usual (the regular date is the second Monday of the month; the June meeting is set for Wednesday, June 23) to give the district’s finance staff sufficient time to develop a final budget for the 2021-2022 school year once funding levels have been finalized by the general assembly. She said she also expects CCSD to receive “additional funding for school safety, social and emotional health, the restoration of various grant and educational programs, and funds to improve teacher recruitment and retention.”
Fisher also talked about a proposal in the legislature, outside the School Finance Act, to “allocate general fund dollars in a one-time payment to PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) to help with the PERA unfunded liability and provide long term savings to teachers and other public employees.” She continued, “The district, with the help of our lobbyist team, keeps this board informed.…During the final weeks of this legislative session, we are keeping a close eye on bills related to school discipline, early childhood education, statewide collective bargaining, and a bill to perform an audit of the Colorado K-12 education standards and accountability system.”
Superintendent calls out conflicting health guidance
Siegfried expressed his concern with conflicting guidance CCSD has received and its impact on students. He shared that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Tri-County Health Department have expressed that it is safe for students inside classrooms to be three feet apart, but for graduation on June 4, students are required to be six feet apart on an outdoor field. He said, “That makes no sense to me. It’s time that we get alignment in our guidance.”
Siegfried is retiring in June. Christopher Smith, who served as Siegfried’s chief of staff, will take over as CCSD superintendent.