Colorado

Thursday churn: Busy school board day

UpdatedDenver Public Schools board members will not be voting tonight on Innovation School guidelines, after the item was pulled from the board’s agenda at the request of board member Jeanne Kaplan. Kaplan requested more time for discussion. The guidelines could be returned to the board’s agenda for a February vote.

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School boards in four of Colorado’s largest districts are meeting today on some weighty topics, from school closures and consolidations to budget cuts and whether guns should be allowed on district property.

Some details:

Jefferson County school board members have a work session starting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive. The agenda includes a discussion of the board’s proposed five-year facilities master plan, specifically the 2011 recommendations that would not be part of a fall bond question for voters. That list includes closures of Thomson and Zerger elementaries.

Denver school board members meet at 5 p.m. at 900 Grant St. for an update on changes in Far Northeast Denver and a vote on guidelines for Innovation School applicants, such as providing a detailed leadership succession plan and promoting equity of access for English language learners and students with special needs. Check the agenda here.

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet with their community on budget priorities as they prepare to cut another $25 million for 2011-12. The session begins at 6:30 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Here’s more info.

Greeley District 6 school board members have a special 5 p.m. meeting to talk about, and potentially act upon, a policy that would ban weapons from all district property, district vehicles and district-sponsored activities. This follows the controversy over board member Brett Rheese, who repeatedly aired a radio message critical of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before Monday’s holiday. Rheese said he received death threats and planned to begin carrying a pistol to board meetings, prompting concern from some other board members. The meeting is scheduled for the auxiliary gym at Maplewood Elementary, 1201 21st Ave. in Greeley – because it’s a school, Rheese already is prohibited from carrying his gun there.

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, Colorado Northwestern Community College is getting a non-traditional president in former legislator and cabinet official Russ George.

Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, has announced that George would start Jan. 24 as president of the two-year school, which has campuses in Rangely and Craig plus three satellite centers in other towns.

George, originally from Rifle, was in the legislature from 1993 to 2000, including service as House speaker. He was director of the Division of Wildlife and of the Department of Natural Resources for Gov. Bill Owens and director of the Department of Transportation under Gov. Bill Ritter. George also was an active member of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which produced the new higher ed strategic plan last year. Text of news release

New Department of Education employee Leanne Emm has been named interim director of school finance. Vody Herrmann, CDE’s respected finance director for more than a decade, announced Friday that she’s retiring in March. Before joining CDE, Emm worked in budget and finance for the Jeffco schools for nearly 14 years.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”

 

Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”

 

Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”

 

Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”

 

Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”

 

Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.