Dollar Bills

Susan Miller

FINANCIAL CLARITY- New Leadership Delivering Results for Our K.I.D.S.

Spending a Billion+ Dollars a Year


When we consider our student spending levels and the SAT results we received from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) this year, taxpayers should wonder about their return on investment.  Let’s think about those 11th graders whose SAT scores were so disappointing this year.  From the time those children began first grade, Jeffco taxpayers have invested $114,045 in their education.


Since they began in Jeffco schools, the amount of tax dollars that Jeffco spends has gone up, but achievement results have been going down.  This should give all of us pause.  Who is asking the question of why this is happening?
Who is asking why achievement is declining while funds are increasing?


Based on my experience, Jeffco has the same problem that many other school districts have: it doesn’t have a clear picture of how its mix of activities drives both achievement results and costs. For example, do we understand how much money we spend on professional development each year and how that ties to achievement results?


Improving clarity in this area is critical to improving both achievement and the value for money that Jeffco delivers to taxpayers. The district finance team has already won awards for budgeting and financial reporting.  I want to see them win an award for cost management and financial clarity so we know which investments are working. 


My areas of focus are:

  • How do we know the money we are spending is getting the expected results?

  • How can we reallocate funds to ensure dollars reach the classroom?

  • How do we invest in innovation but only roll out successful programs and track spending by program?

  • How do we control investments in administrative overhead?

Jeffco School Board approved the roll out of one to one technology, approving spending over a million dollars to purchase computers for students. Spending was approved without any conversation about the expected increases students would experience in achievement. There was no conversation about the needed investment in new curriculum that would work on the new technology, the training needed for staff nor where the project had been tested and how achievement had changed. Jeffco must do better. In addition to rising revenues because of the good economy and increasing home values, Jeffco schools has asked and secured from taxpayers, twice in the past decade, on-going additional revenues. Taxpayers deserve more clarity on dollars spent and realized return on taxpayer investment.