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McMinimee describes rocky road to becoming Jeffco’s superintendent

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Jefferson County Schools then-superintendent finalist Dan McMinimee sat impassively at school board meetings last spring as audience members inveighed against him, shouting out that he was unqualified to lead the state’s second-largest school district.

Critics decried his proposed annual pay as excessive, compared his professional bona fides unfavorably to his predecessor’s and said his 12 years with the Douglas County School District didn’t bode well for Jefferson County’s 85,000 students.

Even board member Lesley Dahlkemper stated that McMinimee’s proposed base salary of $280,000 — later reduced to $220,000 with $60,000 worth of annual performance pay and retirement benefits added on — “is not commensurate with experience.”

He was hired in May on a 3-2 board vote in one of the most contentious superintendent selection processes in recent memory.

But McMinimee, who completes his second week on the job Tuesday, said he never thought


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  • comment avatar Henry July 16, 2014

    As a parent with 2 kids in the district, soon to be 3, this is what I want:
    1) a great teacher who cares about my kids, and this means they are paid and treated well professionally and have manageable class sizes. Size matters.
    2) a curriculum of study so I know what I being taught to them so I can ensure they are at expectation…my responsibility as the parent.
    3) stop testing my kid with tests that are used for things other than providing my family with useful information and do not use my children’s information without my explicit permission. Do not tie my kids testing for anything I don’t approve of, they aren’t your kids. Our kids, our privacy, this isn’t Russia.
    4) stop the fees, the fees are way out of control for a gratuitous education.
    5) provide more gym, recess, art, music, health education. You have cut so much and given us more testing. We want a robust education, not more tests.
    6) fund kindergarten better.
    7) school lunch needs to be more home cooking and less reheated pizza. Make a meal.
    8) shorten summer vacation, we are not farmers. My kids hate me for this one.
    9) I don’t want a political or social experiment performed on my kids, we like Jeffco schools, we do not see it as failing, so be careful.
    10) a safe school.

  • comment avatar Monico July 16, 2014

    1) You miss the point about a teacher who is adding value — in partnership with parents, helping students to meet Colorado grade level standards each year. As for class size — it is a more complicated issue than perhaps you realize. The impact of class size change on achievement growth is not absolute, and depends on other variables such as student demographics, student age, the material being taught, and the relative skill of the teacher. Moreover, given a limited school budget, reducing class size may be less cost effective than other initiatives to improve student achievement.

    2) Colorado state standards for grade level and subject are available to all parents (see either the CDE site or this site for pdf copies:

    The real issue is whether your child’s curriculum is lining up with state grade level standards, and whether your child is achieving at least proficiency each year, which, by Grade 11, should result in your child meeting the college and career ready standard on the national ACT test

    3) First, we need to differentiate between who is mandating the tests to which you object. In truth, the state of Colorado has only minimal testing requirements; districts, schools, and individual teachers may use other tests (i.e., formative assessments). Second, on the general issue of testing, I know of no way to improve performance in the absence of consistent, comparable feedback. Third, in the absence of some type of performance assessment, I know of no way to ensure accountability in an organization. But I agree with you on the need for information security and privacy.

    4) Agreed.

    5) Do you have any data on the actual extent of these cuts? Otherwise, all we have is an assertion. Also, while I recognize the benefits of physical activity, art, and music instruction, I also know that most kids will suffer a lifetime of consequences if they aren’t proficient in reading, writing, math and science — including our best athletes, artists, and performers.

    6) By now, Henry, you should recognize the kindergarten issue as a red herring, unless you are angry about not increasing the funding for a program which Jeffco’s own analysis shows is not meeting its goals. And if that is the case, then our differences are wide indeed. See:

    7) Agreed

    8) Agreed

    9) Henry, there is no doubt that some students do very well by Jeffco, and that we have some excellent schools, as measured by true value added metrics (and not measures that simply reward favorable student demographics). But individual anecdotes are not the same as aggregate district performance data, which show that Jeffco’s overall performance has been poor for too many kids, and hasn’t improved in at least eight years. That should concern all of us.

    10) Agreed.

  • comment avatar Henry July 16, 2014

    When my kids complain the classrooms are too full and the teacher is hard to gain attention because they are busy with all the other kids, class size matters. Yes, there may be a range like 18 to 23 students are comparable, but when you have 1 adult and 30 kids, class size not being an issue is ridiculous.

    Drilling kids in math with ancillary testing done in addition to testing of Tcap is what is going on in the schools. Each test is accompanied by test prep programs Cindy bought made by the engineers of the tests. The public schools you went to did not do this, you and I did not get treated this way, my kids serve the testing, the testing does not serve my kids education, it is a lie.

    We don’t have an education crisis, we have a lack of manufacturing and blue collar jobs crisis that actually pay well. Cindy spent money wastefully and I a sure the new group will do the same , the voters spoke, they are off to bad start, we will see.

  • comment avatar Mara July 16, 2014

    “In the end, he came to the conclusion that most of the anger wasn’t directed at him as much as it was at the way he was selected for the job.”

    I would agree with this. He will be in a fish bowl for a while though as the teachers and parents at JeffCo with a vested interest see how he performs. Hopefully he will have a positive impact and allow the teachers to have a voice unlike what happened at DougCo.

  • comment avatar Dean July 16, 2014

    Cindy Stephenson announced her retirement the day after voters elected a new majority on the board that the teachers union opposes. She’s been scorching the earth since then, and her accusations of disrespect and lack of trust from the board have never been substantiated. She sat through a board meeting where her supporters became so disruptive that the meeting had to be suspended and she did NOTHING to try and help restore order.

    Shame on Cindy Stephenson for her conduct after the new board was elected.

    Leslie Dahlkamper was even worse at that board meeting refusing to help restore order so that the meeting could continue.

    The “baggage” from Dougco is a fabrication of the teachers union and their surrogates Dahlkamper and Felmann.

    I think McMinimee’s compensation package is excessive, but I know better than to expect any good faith from Dahlkamper, Felmann, the teachers union, or the rest of Cindy Stephenson’s supporters. They’ll take out their bitterness on him every chance they get.

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