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A Senate Education Committee hearing Thursday on a proposed school turnaround bill included much criticism about reforms in Far Northeast Denver, particularly from Denver school board member Andrea Merida, who voted against them.

Coincidentally – or not? – DPS leaders issued a news release Thursday saying “roughly” 92 percent of eligible families in that area had submitted school-choice applications. Of the families who submitted forms, more than 85 percent chose a Far Northeast school as their top pick.

The controversial reform plan, which helped spark a recall effort against school board president Nate Easley, means dramatic change at Montbello High School and the five schools that feed into it. Montbello, for example, will break into three smaller programs – a college-prep academy, a high-tech early college and a center for international studies.

For the first time, families of incoming FNE 6th- and 9th-graders in fall 2011 were asked to choose one of the  new middle and high school options – about 1,500 or 92 percent did so, according to the DPS news release. The remaining families will be asked to choose during a second choice window beginning March 7.

On March 5, DPS is planning a community celebration in Green Valley Ranch, where the new school leaders will be introduced. They include Allen Smith, the Martin Luther King Jr. Early College principal who will become the new FNE deputy executive director. Read the news release for more details, including principals’ names.

What’s on tap:

The State Council for Educator Effectiveness meets from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the offices of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 1580 Lincoln St., suite 420.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, and former Denver Bronco Ebenezer Ekuban will be at Denver’s Stedman Elementary at 1:30 p.m. to highlight “the need for a new generation of diverse and talented leaders to consider a career in teaching.” About 38 percent of public school students are African American or Latino compared to less than 15 percent of teachers. Bennet, a former DPS superintendent, has proposed a Presidential Teacher Corps to recruit and train teachers for high-needs schools.

Results of the University of Denver state and local tax study that was commissioned by the legislature will be presented during a 1:30 p.m. meeting in the Old Supreme Court Chambers of the Capitol. The event is open to the public.

The State Board of Education legislative update meeting has been cancelled.

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