From the Statehouse

JBC votes to trim Counselor Corps

The Joint Budget Committee today voted 4-2 to take back $750,000 from the $5 million Colorado Counselor Corps program, which pays for extra counselors and expanded counseling services in middle and high schools spanning more than two dozen districts.

If the cut is approved by the full legislature, it would pull back money intended for “performance awards” this month to 50 schools in 17 districts. That money doesn’t involve the main program, for which $3.9 million already has been granted, but is money is intended to be used for additional college counseling and planning services, JBC analyst Carolyn Kampman told the committee.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, moved to make the cut, saying it didn’t make sense “to give extra awards to districts while we’re trying to cut budgets.”

The JBC is trying to finish work balancing the current 2010-11 state budget.

Rep. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said, “I don’t know if I’m real comfortable with that idea,” adding, “I think that pulling that money back right now might ensure that those results [of the program] remain modest.”

Chair Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, said, “I have some problems with promising money and then taking it back. I don’t want to do this unless it’s the last balancing thing we do.”

But, she and Steadman were outvoted by Ferrandino and the panel’s three Republican members, Sen. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs and Reps. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen and Jon Becker of Fort Morgan.

The JBC’s action would take back $689,298 in performance awards and $65,452 in additional funds that weren’t going to be spent. The money would be returned to the State Education Fund, and in turn used to offset school spending from the state’s main general fund. The latter is what the committee is working to balance.

The districts affected by the action are Aurora, Branson, Brighton, Center, Cherry Creek, Cripple Creek-Victor, Denver, Falcon, Harrison, Karval, Lake County, Montezuma-Cortez, Mesa Valley, Poudre and St. Vrain, plus the Charter School Institute.

The counselor corps was the product of the optimistic 2008 legislative session, before the recession fully hit and when there was extra money for new education programs. Some of those programs were lightly funded to start with, and several have been trimmed in the cutback years of 2009 and 2010.

• CDE information about the program

awarding leaders

Meet the nine finalists for Tennessee Principal of the Year

PHOTO: Shelby County Schools
From left: Docia Generette-Walker receives Tennessee's 2016 principal of the year honor from Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. Generette-Walker leads Middle College High School in Memphis. This year's winner will be announced in October.

Nine school leaders are up for an annual statewide award, including one principal from Memphis.

Tracie Thomas, a principal at White Station Elementary School, represents schools in Shelby County on the state’s list of finalists. Last year, Principal Docia Generette-Walker of Middle College High School in Memphis received the honor.

Building better principals has been a recent focus for Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen as roles of the school leaders change under school improvement efforts.

“Successful schools begin with great leaders, and these nine finalists represent some of the best in our state,” McQueen said. “The Principal of the Year finalists have each proven what is possible when school leaders hold students and educators to high expectations.”

The winner will be announced at the state department’s annual banquet in October, where the winner of Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year will also be announced.

The finalists are:

West Tennessee

  • Tracie Thomas, White Station Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Stephanie Coffman, South Haven Elementary, Henderson County School District
  • Linda DeBerry, Dyersburg City Primary School, Dyersburg City Schools

Middle Tennessee

  • Kenneth “Cam” MacLean, Portland West Middle School, Sumner County Schools
  • John Bush, Marshall County High School, Marshall County Schools
  • Donnie Holman, Rickman Elementary School, Overton County Schools

East Tennessee

  • Robin Copp, Ooltewah High School, Hamilton County Schools
  • Jeff Harshbarger, Norris Middle School, Anderson County Schools
  • Carol McGill, Fairmont Elementary School, Johnson City Schools

you better work

Hickenlooper, on national TV, calls for bipartisanship on job training for high school graduates

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia
Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to reporters on the eve of the 2017 General Assembly.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Sunday said Republicans and Democrats should work together to rethink how states are preparing high school graduates for the 21st century economy.

“It’s not a Republican or Democratic issue to say we want better jobs for our kids, or we want to make sure they’re trained for the new generation of jobs that are coming or beginning to appear,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, appeared on the Sunday public affairs program alongside Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to discuss their work on healthcare.

The Colorado governor brought up workforce training after moderator John Dickerson asked what issues besides healthcare both parties should be addressing.

“Two-thirds of our kids are never going to have a four-year college degree, and we really haven’t been able to prepare them to involve them in the economy where the new generations of jobs require some technical capability,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to look at apprenticeships. We need to look at all kinds of internships.”

Hickenlooper has long supported a variety of education reform policies including charter schools and linking student test scores to teacher evaluations. Last fall he backed a new program that is expected to this year connect 250 Colorado high school students with paid job training.

Watch Hickenlooper and Kasich here. Hickenlooper’s remarks on job training begin right before the 11- minute mark.