Tuesday Churn: Tax plans

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute has decided not to go ahead with a ballot proposal to create a graduated state income tax, concluding the support isn’t there to pass a measure next November.

But Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, says he’s pushing ahead with his plan to propose increases in state income and sales taxes, specifically to fund schools and higher education.

The institute filed six ballot titles last month, partly to test the waters on which proposal would best fit the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures.

On Monday, institute director Carol Hedges announced, “As much as we believe Colorado needs swift action to address its fiscal challenges and stop the cycle of damaging cuts to our public services, these measures were not able to gather the broad support needed to move to the ballot in 2011.”

On Feb. 28, Heath announced that he was filing a ballot title that would increase individual and corporate income tax rates to 5 percent from the current 4.63 percent, raise the state portion of sales and use taxes to 3 percent from 2.9 percent and earmark spending of revenue from the increases for K-12 and higher education. The higher rates would kick in on Jan. 1, 2012, and expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

Heath subsequently filed a second proposal, identical to the first except without the expiration date. He said Monday he’s determined to go ahead with one of the proposals, even though the prospects of wide support are uncertain, as the institute found out. Heath believes the budget squeeze facing education programs is too serious to wait for a broader fix of the state’s conflicting constitutional provisions.

Meanwhile, Jon Caldera, president of the Independence Institute, has filed a ballot title for a measure that would reduce the state income tax rate to 4.5 percent.

In other news, the Colorado Health Foundation‘s annual report card gives its lowest mark, a D+, to the category rating the health of the state’s children. Among the factors cited – nearly 12 percent of youngsters were not covered by health insurance between 2007 and 2009, ranking the state 44th in the nation in this area.

The 2010 Colorado Health Report Card examines various indicators and awards grades for all life stages, from “healthy beginnings” to “healthy aging.” The highest grade, an A-, went to the latter category. You can see the full report card here.

What’s on tap:

The Denver school board legislative oversight committee scheduled for noon has been canceled.

Adams County Westminster 50 holds a community meeting about the 2011-12 budget at 6 p.m. at Westminster High School, 6933 Raleigh St.

The Poudre School district board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Johannsen Support Services Center, 2407 LaPorte Ave. in Fort Collins.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Another round: Obama brings Race to the Top-style incentives to the world of higher education. New York Times.

Gates model: A Q & A with Bill Gates about education, including his belief that higher taxes are necessary to substantially improve graduation rates. Wall Street Journal.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.