Who Is In Charge

First phase of CAP4K could cost $142 million

Implementing just the first phase of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids reform program could cost $131.5 million to $142.4 million or more, according to an estimate prepared by consultants.

All but about $3 million of that burden would fall on school districts and other local education agencies, according to the estimate prepared by Augenblick, Palaich and Associates and the Colorado School Finance Project.

The CAP4K law, passed in 2008, proposes a broad restructuring of the state’s education system, including descriptions of school and postsecondary and workforce readiness, new content standards, a new state testing system, alignment of local school curricula with the new standards, new types of high school diplomas and alignment of college admissions requirements with the new K-12 system. CAP4K is intended to be phased in through 2014.

The potential costs of the new system have been a concern from the start, and the law contains a provision that requires detailed studies of its those costs. The first phase of the study was presented to the State Board of Education Wednesday. The other two phases are due Oct. 1, 2010 and Oct. 1, 2011.

The first study covers only the costs of planning for the new content standards and for the school readiness and postsecondary and workforce readiness descriptions. At the state level, the work is basically done on those issues. The state board last year adopted new standards and the two descriptions.

The Department of Education has been working for several months on the design of a new state testing system. The board is supposed to vote on that in December, although it’s possible the legislature this year will make some change in CAP4K deadlines.

The cost of a new testing system, which will be included in a later Augenblick report, is a major concern for education policymakers and for lawmakers. A rough CDE estimate made last year calculated that implementing a new system could cost up to $80 million.

The report presented to the board Wednesday estimates the first-phase costs to CDE at $1.5 million and $1.7 million in costs for the higher education system. The tab for school districts was put at $128.5  million to $139.2 million.

And, the report noted, “School districts, in particular, are only beginning to implement CAP4K and their understanding of what will be required for them is limited; as such, it is difficult to predict what their costs will be at this time. … All figures in this report should be considered rough estimates at this stage and APA intends to review and refine these figures to produce a more complete and accurate cost picture in our subsequent report.”

The state’s school districts are especially sensitive to the specter of new costs this year because of planned cuts in state school aid in 2010-11 and uncertain financial prospects after that.

The state’s $377 million first-round application for Race to the Top funds requested some funds that  would have been used for CAP4K implementation. Colorado didn’t win that round and is reapplying for the R2T second round. But Colorado’s potential award in that round looks to be no more than $175 million, making R2T a less likely solution for CAP4K costs.

Links to report and supporting documents

Check Education News later for an expanded version of this story.


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”