Money Spent On JeffCo Schools’ Phone System Upsets Some

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Some parents say the Jefferson County School District is wasting millions of dollars on a new phone system.

The district is spending $9 million to replace their old system. Officials say their current system is failing and is creating a safety issue. The federal government is kicking in two thirds of the money.

Parent Jeri Martinez of Wheat Ridge said all the money being spent on the phone system is troubling, particularly in light of the decision to close her child’s school Martensen Elementary to save money. She and another parent, Jennifer Jacobson, told CBS4 they are devastated by the closure.

“I think it’s just another example of the Jefferson School District mismanaging the entire process,” Martinez said.

Officials with the school district say the new system has been in the works for five years and that it will take about four years to have every school up to date.

“I don’t doubt that there may very well be a need for revamping the system, but I have a really hard time believing they need $8 million dollars worth of phones,” she said.

Kristopher Schuh, principal at Evergreen Middle School in the district, told CBS4 the system is a “huge necessity.” He described an issue he ran into on Thursday as an example. He was in Denver while his wife was having a surgical procedure done and he tried to check in at work.

“I could not get hold of anyone at school,” said Schuh, who waited for 15 minutes before he gave up on trying to get through..

“This isn’t a new issue, this issue has been going on,” Schuh said.

District officials recently sent out a mass email to parents that explains in depth why the money needs to be spent on the new phone system.

  • C. Davis

    no one answered because everyone has been laid off,don’t blame the phone system, just like our fricken government,waste waste waste.this ridiculous andf the kids of this school district are the ones who have to suffer from this lack of responsibility by the school district and school board. and i don’t even live in Jefferson county and my kids don’t go to school in that district and never will either,i will home school them before they ever go there.

  • Ernie Mink

    WOW with a deficit, this looks like deception. We are supposedly (I think it is a lie) in trillions in debt in this country alone and we still can afford to send more people overswa, continue a satanic false flag war created on deception and lies, and give 2/3 of the 9 million for a new phone system! Disgrace!

    • c.davis

      i agree totally,my thoughts exactly

  • Bob

    They have no problem spending 8.8 million on sports including 800k to transport athletes around the state, 1 million on officials and trainers and an unknown amount for overtime for coaches to prepare for games, awards, trophies and dinners. This can all be found on the jeffco web site under the BUGET and ATHLETICS. So why not buy a new phone system that actually might enable them to communincate with theirselves and parents of stundents.

  • Marilyn

    I find this story frivolous and sensationalized. A phone system is not the reason schools are closed.

    • Regan Benson

      Yes, mis-management is the reason schools are closing, not a phone system. The district will tell any story you are ready to believe. A principal not being able to check in at work?? hmmm call your co-worker who has a cell phone with data service,paid for by the district (taxpayer). Landlines=antequated.

  • denvervet

    9 mil? Someone made a lot of money in the phone co. Maybe the article should have given reasons why they needed a new one………..but 9 mil? You kidding?

  • retirededucator

    Unless you’ve actually worked in Jeffco schools and experienced the effects of multiple outages, some lasting days, and their impact on essential, and emergency communications including fax, you would never understand the critical impact on efficiency and safety this issue has on a daily basis.

    Jeffco schools has 86,000 students and thousands of phones. The district outgrew the system well over five years ago, when the upgrade plan was initially approved.

    Jeffco school administrators, staff, and emergency personnel have had to use other means for essential voice communication, sometimes for four days at a time, while the district struggles to get the antiquated and inadequate system back online.

    This is not only an absolutely essential and critical upgrade, but one that will pay the taxpayers back in relatively short order by facilitating communication, productivity, and peace of mind for parents. What if there was an emergency at your school and the reverse calling system was down?

  • formerphonesystemseller

    Having sold phone systems here in Denver for over 25+ years I can tell you that in addition to really poor timing on Jeffco’s part, this sounds like another case of the “tail wagging the dog”. In layman’s terms, the IT department run amok.

    For the last decade or more, telecom hardware & services have been the jurisdiction of IT departments for corporate America and governmental entities. And School Districts.

    Ever try and get someone from IT on the phone? They could care less if the phones work or not. Phones are an annoyance for them UNLESS there’s some benefit. Nowadays that benefit is that by installing a new system (see VoIP) the IT department can command a bigger budget and can lobby for increased training for their staff to administer the system(s). More schooling, more certifications, higher IT salaries since they “know” the system and so on.

    And since most all larger IT departments already have a pretty large investment in Cisco networking equipment for the computers……

    And maybe they’ve tapped the District for all the shiny new computer gear they could get…..didn’t somebody above say they could have used these monies for new computers and networking gear? Hmmmmmm

    The article doesn’t state what manufacturer or vendor won the contract but color me surprised if….

    It’s obvious from some of the above comments that the District has some minions doing their bidding here. A principal who “could not get a hold of anyone at school?”. The implication here is that he did NOT get a busy signal but rather his call rang no answer or he couldn’t route himself through voice mail to anyone that cared to answer the phone. Not the phone system’s problem. Talk to your employees.

    Outages for days? Give me a break. Even if a phone system is down it takes about 10 minutes to call Qwest or the school’s service provider and re-direct their incoming calls to another school, administrative offices etc. Need to make an emergency outgoing call? Go ask any 6th grader to borrow their phone.

    Emergency communications including fax? Are you kidding me? What about the telegraph? I still work an 8 to 5 job full time and have not sent or received a fax in over 2 years.

    Reverse calling system? The implication here is that if a particular school’s system is down then it’s ability to “reverse call” is down as well. Wrong. This “feature” is typically located at some central site e.g. the administrative offices and is invoked on a per emergency basis. It’s database knows – based on the school(s) that are affected – what numbers to dial. It would be pretty easy to make this “site” a stand alone system, contract the service out to a 3rd party or just upgrade the site that this feature emanates from. Not every school in the whole district. Not 9 Million dollars worth anyway.

    The speed at which communications travel today would call into question just how quickly a parent would receive an emergency “phone” call from the District in the first place. Let’s use the above retired educator’s numbers and do a math exercise. If the District has 86,000 students let’s assume that means 150,000 parents, moms, dads etc. Let’s assume that the District’s “reverse” calling system (if they even have it “in house”) has 1,000 phone lines hooked up to it (unrealistic). Let’s assume that each outgoing call placed to a “parents” cell phone, work phone etc. takes 30 seconds. Thus the system could call one (1) phone number for each “parent” and reach all of them in 75 minutes. That’s not so good. But, thank God for the Internet. Most all of these people would have already received notice from the District, or someone else, via text or email. NEITHER of these has anything to do with a phone system.

    Even 20 year old systems can be patched together long enough for the dollars to catch up with the need.


  • Jim

    Behind every expensive expenditure, there is a congenial sales person, a lot of expensive business dinners, and a lot of potential for kickbacks, spousal employment, conflict of interest, affairs, and who knows what else.

    Dig deeper, CBS4r, and find out what is under the surface. There is more to this story.

  • P.R.

    As a Jeffco educator I am NOT in favor of yet more frivolous spending. There is no justification for this on any level. When you are on the inside track, you get to see the endless waste on a daily basis. Someone, somewhere needs to get with the program and eliminate the top layer, revamp the human system, and have one huge DO-OVER!

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