Monday Churn: Ballots and budget

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

State schools and colleges will learn Tuesday how much they may have to tighten their belts in the 2012-13 school year, and some school districts also will learn that evening how their voters feel about proposed tax increases.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed 2012-13 budget will be released at 1 p.m. Tuesday, the day that it’s due to the legislative Joint Budget Committee.

School district and college leaders have long expected that cuts were a foregone conclusion. But there’s some recent statehouse speculation that proposed K-12 cuts could be in the $100-$200 million range instead of the $200-$300 million that has been bandied about. The cut would be off the approximately $5.2 billion in state and local funds that districts are receiving this year for basic operations.

State support for public colleges and universities is about $519 million this year, about $125 million below the 2010-11 budget. Word is that Hickenlooper will propose a cut for 2012-13 but that it won’t be as large as the one imposed for the current budget. But it’s also expected that state funding for financial aid and work study, about $100 million this year, will be cut.

Direct state support to colleges and universities now provides only about a quarter of their revenues; the rest is provided by ever-increasing tuition.

The governor’s budget is kind of an opening shot. Next year’s budget won’t be finished up until April or May, after two more revenue forecasts have been issued and the legislature has approved the document.

The education budget equation will change dramatically if Proposition 103 passes Tuesday. It would provide extra funding for all levels of public education by raising state income and sales tax rates.

If voters approve Prop. 103 – most political observers don’t think that will happen – the 2012 legislature could have as much as $512 million in extra revenue to spend on schools and colleges in both the current budget year and in 2012-13.

Kristin Donley, a science teacher at Monarch High School in the Boulder Valley district, has been named 2012 Colorado Teacher of the Year.

Donley got the surprise announcement during an all-school assembly Friday attended by education Commissioner Robert Hammond and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-2nd District. The ostensible reason for the assembly was for state officials to honor the school’s one-to-one computer program, which ensures every student has access to a laptop.

According to a Colorado Department of Education news release, Donley has taught physical science, chemistry and biology at Monarch for 10 years and also has established a peer science mentorship program for elementary and middle school students. In addition, she is a district curriculum coordinator.

What’s on tap:

Students at Colorado community and local district colleges this week will have the opportunity to get advice on how to move on to four-year schools. The “4 Year 4 You” program provides information about programs available for students to transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions.

During a statewide tour this week, volunteers will talk with students about guaranteed admissions to four-year schools, dual enrollment and other transfer programs.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday – Colorado Northwestern Community College,
7:30-9:30 a.m. and Colorado Mountain College
in Edwards,
1:30-3 p.m.
  • Tuesday – Trinidad Junior College,
8-9:30 a.m.; Lamar Community College, noon-2 p.m., and Otero Junior College,
4-5:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday – Pueblo Community College, 8-9:30 a.m.; Pikes Peak Community College,
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; Arapahoe Community College,
2:15-3:45 p.m., and Red Rocks Community College, 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Thursday – Community College of Aurora,
8-9:30 a.m.; Front Range Community College,
11 a.m.-1 p.m., and Community College of Denver,
2-3:30 p.m.
  • Friday – Northeastern Junior College,
8-9:30 a.m.; Aims Community College,
10 a.m.-noon, and Morgan Community College
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The initiative was organized by CU Regent Stephen Ludwig and is supported by College in Colorado, the Community College System and the Public Education & Business Coalition.


It’s the last campaign finance-reporting deadline for committees supporting and opposing Proposition 103.


Election Day

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed 2012-13 state budget will be released at 1 p.m.

Douglas County school board members are scheduled for a brief public meeting from 5:50 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the district administration building, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. Agenda


The Adams 12-Five Star board has a meeting set for 7 p.m. at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Agenda


The Colorado Commission on Higher Education meets starting at 10 a.m. at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton. Expect the governor’s proposed budget to be a topic of discussion.

The Boulder Valley school board has a special meeting set for noon at 6500 Arapahoe in Boulder.

The Denver school board’s calendar lists a “Focus on Achievement” session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

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.”