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The Colorado Association of School Boards’ director successfully appealed to the Douglas County School Board to rejoin his organization. The board voted 5-2 during its Nov. 18 meeting to renew membership with CASB, a relationship it severed in 2010.
Board members then said DCSD’s in-house staff already provided the services offered by CASB, without the $23,000 membership fee. But several said they now believe CASB can help Douglas County with school financing and other issues that likely will be debated during the next Colorado legislative session.
“I think the benefits of membership could be summarized (in the words) of Benjamin Franklin: `If we don’t hang together, we’ll hang separately’,” said board member Craig Richardson, citing concerns about state education funding.
Board members Judi Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn voted against the idea, saying they’re not certain CASB membership will benefit the district.
Reynolds’ and Silverthorn’s hesitation, initially expressed during the board’s Oct. 21 meeting, prompted the board to invite CASB director Ken DeLay to the November meeting.
DeLay said he sees mutual benefit to DCSD rejoining the association, noting that the two entities are working toward common goals that including waivers from some state requirements. DeLay also said that other member districts could benefit from learning about Douglas County’s education initiatives.
“I think, for example, some of the work this district has done in areas of teacher compensation are things that could be shared at a conference,” DeLay said.
He also mentioned the association’s support of DCSD in its voucher lawsuit, set for oral arguments Dec. 10 in the state’s highest court.
“We have not completely forgotten about you over the years,” DeLay said. “We did weigh in on your case that’s pending before the Colorado Supreme Court.”
In August, CASB filed a brief supporting DCSD based on its belief in local control for boards of education.
Richardsonthanked DeLay for the brief, saying it renewed his interest in membership.
Silverthorn suggested a trial partnership that wouldn’t require full CASB membership, but DeLay said the association bylaws don’t provide for such an arrangement.
Board president Kevin Larsen suggested DCSD rejoin on a trial basis.
“I think we can join for this year,” he said. “I certainly would like to see us give this a try, especially with the number of endeavors that are coming this session.”
Reynolds and Silverthorn remain skeptical.
“I’m not real clear on how it’s going to benefit us, but we’ll see,” Reynolds said. “It’s not clear to me that our interests and CASB’s interests align enough of the time.”
But because DCSD is joining in the middle of a membership year, “We’ll have six months to find out and decide if we want to rejoin again,” Reynolds said. “This is a trial period, to learn more about what they do and what they offer. We’ll see how it goes.”
Both women previously cited CASB minutes that showed the organization has a budget shortfall and would use DCSD’s $24,000 membership fee to help fill that financial hole.
Silverthorn said she’d hoped the association would at least pro-rate its membership fees to reflect the district’s mid-year membership, “but they’re evidently not going to.”
“We’re in it now, so I’m going to be looking forward to seeing how it works out. I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on it.”
DCSD was one of only four of the state’s 178 that do not belong to the association. The other three non-members are “very small, very rural and very poor,” DeLay told the board.
Established in 1940, the state association describes itself as an advocate for boards of education that provides services and training to support school board members. It also lobbies the state Legislature on issues important to school boards.
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