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KORY NELSON HAS A HISTORY OF  INVOLVEMENT IN

SCHOOL SAFETY IN DOUGLAS COUNTY

 

Because of Kory Nelson’s historic involvement in the issue of school safety in Douglas County, Kory was recently appointed by the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners to their Physical School Security Funding Advisory Committee. This 9-person committee was created in the wake of the May 2019 Stem Highlands Ranch School shooting that resulted in the death of Senior Kendrick Castillo. The County Commissioners dedicated a one-time allotment of $10.0 million to go to school safety in Douglas County. The Committee’s report was presented to the County Commissioners in a public work session on Tuesday, July 16th. Kory was intricately involved in the committee’s work, helping to bring the other committee members up-to-speed on the current status of school safety, the intricacies of the various agencies involved, and helping to draft the final report.

 

The formal presentation by the Physical School Security Funding Advisory Committee begins at 1:13:50. Kory Nelson's statement begins at 1:17:05

 

However, Kory’s involvement in the issue of school safety in Douglas County predates the May 2019 STEM Highlands Ranch School shooting.

Kory’s Personal Statement

On February 21, 2018, I watched a television new network broadcast of a very emotional speech by Mr. Andrew Pollack at the White House when he talked with the President about his daughter, Meadow, who was shot and killed in the February 14th school shooting at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Mr. Pollack stated that we “needed to come together as a community and ‘fix it’” – referring to school safety. As a parent, I asked myself these questions: “What IS the status of school safety in Douglas County? How would any parent begin to know?” Because of my involvement with the School Accountability Committee at Legend, the Public Safety Advisory Committee to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and my family’s safety, I told myself that “Some One” needs to pull our community together to review the current status of school safety in Douglas County in order to determine what, if anything, more we should be doing.  I asked myself, “Who has the passion, dedication, and capacity to make that happen?”  I looked in the mirror and asked, “If not me, then who?”

PUBLIC SAFETY ADVISORY COMMITTEE'S

SCHOOL SAFETY SUBCOMMITTEE

The Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) is the citizens’ liaison group to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Its members come from across the County and are appointed by the elected Sheriff. PSAC often reviews issues of concern presented by the Sheriff’s Office for the Committee’s feedback, but occasionally will self-generate issues or bring issues forward presented by the Public. Kory was first appointed to PSAC by Sheriff David Weaver over 10 years ago and has been an active member ever since.

In February of 2018, Kory Nelson filed a formal proposal with PSAC to create a Subcommittee on School Safety in response to the Parkland Florida shooting, with the stated goal of determining the status of school safety in Douglas County and making any recommendations for needed improvement to the Sheriff’s Office & the community. PSAC approved Kory’s motion, and appointed him as the Subcommittee’s Co-Chair, along with PSAC’s Chairman, Mr. Ed Yeats.

PUBLIC FORUM ON SCHOOL SAFETY

On Saturday, April 29, 2018, the PSAC Subcommittee on School Safety held a formal Public Forum on School Safety in Douglas County. PSAC paid $1,000.00, raised from its member’s personal donations, to lease the school auditorium at Legend High School for this event, as the Douglas County School District would not authorize any space for the event at no cost. There were a number of invited participants to the event:

  • Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock
  • District Attorney George Brauchler
  • Castle Rock Chief of Police Jack Cauley
  • Lone Tree Chief of Police Kirk Wilson
  • Parker Chief of Police David King
  • Laura Carno, Faster Colorado
  • Douglas County School District Director of Safety & Security Rich Payne
  • Douglas County School District School Psychologist
  • Douglas County School District Board of Education 

The invitees from the Douglas County School District declined our invitation and did not participate in the Forum. PSAC was never given a reason for their decision.

SUMMER & FALL OF 2018

Through the Summer & Fall of 2018, the Subcommittee on School Safety continued its work, learning about School Safety without the direct assistance of the School District.  The Subcommittee worked to learn about the Douglas County School Resource Officer and School Marshall Program. This program has existed for many years within Douglas County, and consists of two components:

School Resource Officers – Law Enforcement Officers with specialized training to work with students and have duty assignments inside of schools

School Marshalls – Law Enforcement Officers who patrol between many different elementary schools – some in volunteer off-duty job positions.

The PSAC School Safety Committee learned that the SRO/SM Program was understaffed and under-funded. The National Association of School Resource Officers initially recommended that there should be one SRO for every 1,000 students in a school.  NASRO later revised recommends that one SRO should be assigned to each school, but that a number of other factors should be considered in determining whether there should be more than one SRO in the same school.  We found several situations across Douglas County where high schools with over 2,000 students were SHARING one SRO with a neighboring middle school with approximately 1,500 to 1,800 students.

NOVEMBER 2018 - SCHOOL DISTRICT PROPOSITIONS 5A & 5B

During the Summer and Fall of 2018, Kory and the PSAC Subcommittee on School Safety engaged the Douglas County School District. The School District had initiated a series of public meetings to discuss the financial condition of the District, in preparation for the placement of Proposition of 5A & 5B on the November 2018 ballot. The Board of Education’s newly hired Superintendent, Dr. Tucker, and the supporting District administrators, principals, and supporters of 5A & 5B were directly contacted by Kory and the Subcommittee, and lobbied these 5 points:

1.     School Safety should be a priority in Douglas County.

2.     The SRO/SM Program is the primary school safety program.

3.     The SRO/SM Program is understaffed & underfunded.

4.     5A was an opportunity to obtain needed funding for additional SROs, but the School District declined the opportunity to add the $ to the 5A proposal for more SROs.

5.     5B was an opportunity to support the additional needed physical school building security.

At Kory’s urging, the PSAC formally endorsed Proposition 5B as the District had clearly established the need for additional physical building improvements, including additional physical security enhancements. PSAC members lobbied the Douglas County Community to support the passage of Proposition 5B.

THE 0.13% JUSTICE CENTER SALES TAX PROPOSAL

Kory developed a viable solution to the problem of developing the needed additional funding for the SRO/SM Program. Because of his extensive involvement with the Public Safety Advisory Committee, he had gained an expertise in regard to the Justice Center Sales Tax, and how a portion of that tax had the potential to provide the needed funding to provide a fully staffed and robust SRO/SM Program.

In 1995, a 0.43% sales tax was approved by voters to help build the new Douglas County Justice Center. Of this amount, 0.20% was intended to continue in perpetuity for funding the costs associated with operating the Justice Center including the jail, courtroom security, Community Justice Services, dispatching, technological services, and Justice Center maintenance.  0.23% was due to sunset as of December 31, 2010. In November of 2007, Douglas County voters approved the extension of this portion of the sales tax. Of the 0.23% that was extended, 0.10%, went for continued operating costs. The final 0.13% was to provide continued funding for capital needs associated with the Justice Center through 2020, and then sunset, or be reallocated through voter approval. The 0.13% portion, was instrumental in several capital improvements, including but not limited to the following:

·       The Robert A. Christensen Justice Center;

·       The Highlands Ranch Sheriff’s Sub-Station;

·       New radio communication towers, the northern-simulcast technology system that will dramatically improve public-safety radio coverage for all of Douglas County.

·       Douglas County Emergency Vehicle Operations Center

·       The new Unified Metropolitan Forensic Crime Laboratory (a.k.a. the Regional DNA Laboratory).

Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock has stated that his agency has no significant capital project needs that would cause him to seek any further extension of the 0.13% portion of the Justice Center Sales Tax, which currently sunsets at the end of December of 2020.

THE SOLUTION

The conversion of the 0.13% sales tax to a Douglas County School Safety Sales Tax in perpetuity that would be proportionally distributed to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Castle Rock Police Department, the Lone Tree Police Department, and the Parker Police Department to pay for the wages/benefits of ALL the estimated 55 SROs in Douglas County, their equipment, vehicles, and training.

• One advantage of a sales tax, as compared to relying upon the school district’s funds, which are derived from real property taxes, 60% of the sales tax come individuals who reside outside of Douglas County [ex: Park Meadows Mall].

• Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock supported PSAC’s proposal.

However, the conversion of the sales tax use would have to get the approval of the Douglas County voters through a ballot measure. To place this on the November 2019 ballot, this would take the vote of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.

EFFORTS TO LOBBY THE SCHOOL BOARD

During the Summer & Fall of 2018, while Kory and the PSAC Subcommittee were speaking with  DCSD Superintendent Tucker, President David Ray, and the other members of the Board of Education about School Safety, they pitched the idea of the 0.13% sales tax conversion, and asked for the Board of Education’s support in lobbying the County Commissioners. The School Board refused.

KEEP OUR DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOLS SAFE

After Proposition 5A & 5B were passed, the PSAC Subcommittee on School Safety was dissolved, as its function had been completed.  Following the tradition of the past actions of PSAC supporting the prior sales tax measures, a separate Small Scale Public Issues Committee was created and registered with the Colorado Secretary of State, called "Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe".  Kory was the registered agent for this group. Its stated purpose was to promote placing the 0.13% Sales Tax Proposal on the November ballot in Douglas County. In the Spring of 2019, this group worked to get its proposal before the Douglas County Board of County Commissioner.

On April 16, Kory Nelson published this Video on the Facebook Page of "Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe":

 

APRIL 28, 2019:

KORY'S BRIEFING TO THE DOUGLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Just eight (8) days before the STEM Highlands Ranch School shooting, on Monday, April 28, 2019, Kory Nelson & Ed Yeats gave a 2-hour PowerPoint presentation on School Safety to the members of the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners.

Kory & Ed were the co-founders of “Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe” (a.k.a. “KOSS”) – an official Small-Scale Public Issues Committee, registered with the Colorado Secretary of State. They were also the two co-chairmen of the School Safety Subcommittee for the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, which held a Public Forum on School Safety one-year earlier, on Saturday, April 29, 2018.

This meeting took place in the Briefing Room of the Douglas County School District’s Office of Safety & Security, at the invitation of Director Rich Payne. Mr. Payne provided the Commissioners with a tour of the DSCD Security Operations Center and also spoke at the briefing.  Other presenters included:

  • Under Sheriff Holly Nicholson-Kluth - Douglas County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Lieutenant Lori Bronner - Supervisor of School Resource Officers, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Mr. Chris Zimmerman - Principal of Cimarron Middle School (Parker) and member of theh Board of Directors for the “ILoveUGuys Foundation”;
  • Carly Posey - Douglas County resident and mother of children who were present inside of Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut

Besides the three County Commissioners, Roger Partridge, Laura Thomas, and Abe Laydon, there were other guests who were invited:

  • Douglas County School District Dr. Thomas Tucker (Dr. Tucker did not attend)
  • Douglas County School District Board of Education (Only two of the seven directors attended)
    • Director Wendy Vogel attended
    • Director Anne Marie Lemieux attended
  • Marcia Brauchler, Douglas County resident and mother of children in both neighborhood and charter schools;
  • Mr. Andy Jones, member of the DCSD District Accountability Committee & former governing board president of a Douglas County Charter School.
  • Mr. Bill Sparkman, member of “Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe” & PSAC Subcommittee on School Safety.

The PowerPoint presentation focused on the School Resource Officer (SRO) & School Marshall (SM) Program in the Douglas County School District, and how the schools are not meeting the nationally recommended standards for the number of SROs as established by the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).  For example, in several situations involving neighborhood high schools, having approximately 2400 students, and their feeder middle-schools, having approximately 1300 students, these two campuses of over 3700 students were force to share only one SRO between them. 

   

Kory discussed all the potential negative impacts upon communities who have suffered a school shooting, going through history from Columbine High School, and recounting the official shooting review commission reports.

The presentation ended with a complete explanation of the proposal of Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe to place the proposal of converting the sunsetting 0.13% portion of the Douglas County Justice Center Sales Tax to a School Safety Fund on the November 2019 ballot.

As this meeting was a work session for the County Commissioner, there was no expectation of the Commissioners making any formal decision as to the KOSS proposal at the meeting. Kory & Ed asked the Commissioners to place the proposal on the official agenda of a business meeting of the Commissioners, so as to allow the residents of Douglas County to be heard on this proposal before the Board makes a formal decision.

Eight (8) days after this meeting, on May 7th, a true hero, Kendrick Castillo, laid down his life to protect his friends inside the classroom at STEM Highlands Ranch School.

MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019 - THE NIGHT BEFORE THE STEM SHOOTING

Kory Nelson attended the DCSD Strategic Plan presentation at Legend High School.

 

The Douglas County School District's proposed Strategic Plan

fails to even include the words "School Safety".

 

TUESDAY MAY 7, 2019 - STEM HIGHLANDS RANCH SHOOL

Students Kendrick Castillo, Joshua Jones, and Brendan Bialy rushed Devon Erickson, who entered their classroom armed and intending to kill. They are all heroes. Kendrick will never be forgotten and will continue to inspire and motivate us all. 

 

MAY 13, 2019 - ROSS KAMINSKY RADIO SHOW ON 630 AM KHOW

Kory Nelson with Keep Our Douglas County Schools Safe

https://www.iheart.com/content/2019-05-13-kory-nelson-with-keep-our-douglas-county-schools-safe/

 

POST STEM SHOOTING

On May 13, 2019, the Board of Douglas County Commissioners voted unanimously to redirect $10 million toward public school safety and possible additional mental health services in response to last week’s shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. At this meeting, Kory Nelson addressed the Board, thanking them for the commitment of one-time funds. However, Kory pointed out that the one-time funds could not be used to fund additional School Resource Officers, as an ongoing stream of funding would be necessary to fund Full Time Employee (FTE) positions.

On May 20, 2019, Kory Nelson appeared before the Parker Town Council, with his wife and daughter, and lobbied the Town Council to support enhanced School Safety through increasing funding for additional School Resource Officers in the schools in Parker

On May 28, 2019, exactly three weeks after the STEM School shooting the Board of Douglas County Commissioners, unanimously approved a resolution appropriated $13.3 million for school security and mental health services for students in Douglas County.   Additional resolutions adopted by the Board establish two committees charged with making recommendations for the expenditure of the one-time $10 million – the Physical School Safety & Protection Funding Committee and the Supportive Mental Health for Students Funding Committee. Kory Nelson appeared at this meeting and spoke in favor of the Commissioner's proposal.

But in addition to the $10 million already approved, commissioners also voted to put an extra $3,331,250 in unassigned general fund money toward a community response team for youth and toward hopefully putting more school resource officers (SROs) in Douglas County schools. The $331,250 would go toward funding extra mental health services for children and a community response team for schoolchildren that would respond to schools and connect children and their families with mental health services and substance use disorder resources, according to the budget detail. And the other $3 million annually would account for the county’s 50% commitment to fund up to 50 new school resource officers over the next three years if Douglas County schools or the district’s board agree to match the other half of those positions.

The Board of Education attended this meeting, President David Ray stated it would be virtually impossible for the school district to come up with the estimated $2.1 for their share of the increased SRO cost.

In early June, President David Ray met with Kory Nelson & Ed Yeats and told them that the DCSD was prepared to come up with $1.2 million for additional SROs.

On June 18, 2019, the Board of Education voted to commit only approximately $429,000 for additional SROs - one-third of what they told Kory & Ed, and about one-half of what was needed.

On June 24, 2019, Kory Nelson appeared at a Work Session of Parker's Town Council, in support of the Parker Police Department's request for the additional funding needed to increase the number of SROs so that one SRO would be assigned to Sierra Middle School, one to CImarron Middle School, and one to Legend High School. The funding request was approved.

In June, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioner voted to place a ballot measure on the November ballot to convert the 0,13% sunsetting portion of the Justice Center Sales Tax to pay for transportation projects.

CONCLUSION

Kory Nelson has been an advocate for School Safety in Douglas County BEFORE the STEM Highlands Ranch School shooting.  He has diligently worked to increase the awareness of Douglas County officials about the understaffed and underfunded SRO program, developing a long-term funding mechanism. He brought the law enforcement officials, county commissioners, and the board of education together to learn about a path forward to improving school safety. Because of his expertise, and passion, the Board of County Commissioners appointed him to the 9-person committee tasked to help them determine how to invest the $10.0 million.

KORY NELSON IS THE BEST CANDIDATE TO PRIORITIZE SCHOOL SAFETY IN THE DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT.


Paid for by Kory for School Board, Marge Klein registered agent
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