Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest district with more than 86,000 students, opens for the year today, along with Cherry Creek, Westminster and elementary schools in the Adams 12-Five Star district.

Jeffco Superintendent Cindy Stevenson will welcome students to Wheat Ridge 5-8, a reconfigured middle school in an area where budget cuts prompted district leaders to close a neighborhood elementary school, Martensen Elementary. Many Martensen students are going to Wheat Ridge 5-8 while younger students will attend nearby Stevens Elementary.

A second school, Zerger Elementary, in Westminster also was closed due to budget cuts and those students will be attending Weber and Lukas elementaries. Stevenson will visit all four schools serving the displaced students – Wheat Ridge 5-8, Stevens, Weber and Lukas – during today’s first day of school.

Among other large metro-area districts, kids in Aurora, Boulder Valley, Denver and Douglas County already are back to work.

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has awarded bullying prevention grants to the Denver, Cherry Creek, Poudre and Center school districts. The grants come under a new anti-bullying law passed by the 2011 legislature and total $10,000 each for the larger districts and $7,000 for center. Funds for the grants came from the Gill Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado.

Ken Weil, a top advisor to former Gov. Bill Ritter, has been named executive director of College Summit-Colorado, an organization that partners with high schools to help increase college attendance rates. Most recently, Weil was CEO of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s transition team.

What’s on tap:

TODAY

The Legislative Audit Committee will hear the annual fiscal health analysis of Colorado school districts starting at 10 a.m. in the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. (This is always an interesting report but relates to accounting and balance sheet issues, not budget cuts.)

The Lobato trial starts its fourth week in courtroom 424 of the Denver City and County Building.

TUESDAY

Aurora school board members meet in closed session at 5 p.m. for legal advice regarding a personnel matter and then in public at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 1085 Peoria St. The board’s public agenda includes votes on compensation agreements with teachers, administrators and other staff – essentially, no raises for anyone.

WEDNESDAY

The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline meets starting at 9 a.m. in room 0112 of the Capitol.

THURSDAY

Jeffco school board members meet for a study session at 5 p.m. at the district’s administrative headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The agenda includes a discussion of staff compensation and the issuance of tax anticipation notes to cover an expected cash shortfall before most district revenues begin flowing in March.

FRIDAY

It’s the deadline day for school board candidates to file their petition signatures.

The Capital Construction Assistance Board meets at the Alamosa schools administration office following the 9 a.m. ribbon cutting for Alamosa’s two new elementary schools, paid for partly with BEST funds.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Brill blasts unions: Journalist Steven Brill (he wrote the “rubber room” stories in the New Yorker), has a new book out, “Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools.” EdWeek blogger Michele McNeil takes a look, mentioning some inside scuttlebutt on Colorado’s doomed R2T bid that’s included in the book. New York Times reviewer Sara Mosle, a Teach for America veteran, concludes that Brill doesn’t make his case that unions are the villains in school reform. EdWeek & NYT

The missing link: Researcher Carrie Leana makes the case that many education reform advocates focus too much on great teachers working as individuals and miss the importance of collaboration among educators. Stanford Social Innovation Review