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Reverse transfer bill passes Senate

Updated 9:45 a.m. – The Senate Thursday voted 33-0 to pass Senate Bill, 12-045, the measure that would allow students to combine credits from both community and four-year colleges to qualify for an associate’s degree. The measure now goes to the House.

The Senate also gave unanimous final approval to two measures intended to improve the operations and authorization of charter schools, Senate Bills 12-061 and 12067.

Text of Wednesday story follows.

The Senate gave preliminary approval Wednesday to Senate Bill, 12-045, the measure that would allow students to combine credits from both community and four-year colleges to qualify for an associate’s degree.

The bill, developed by a study committee that met last summer, is touted as a way to increase the number of state residents with college degrees and create a more educated workforce.

“This bill is going to be really good for jobs and the economy,” argued prime sponsor Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster.

Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, also came to the microphone to chime in that “This is a jobs bill.” Shaffer and Senate Democrats are pushing a variety of bills this year they believe will encourage creation of more jobs.

The bill was significantly amended last week by the Senate Education Committee to require students to initiate the process of assembling credits for an associate’s degree. The original version of the bill would have required colleges to do the work of determining which students were eligible. That was opposed by higher education lobbyists because of the potential cost.

Hudak alluded to that compromise, saying, “We had to figure out a way to make this process work … in a financially feasible manner.”

Senate Ed waters down another bill

Later in the day, Senate Education took up Senate Bill 12-047, the proposal by Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, to require all high school students take a skills assessment like the Accuplacer, with the state paying districts for the costs of the tests.

Legislature 2012 logoThe idea is that giving such tests in high school would provide early warning of student deficiencies and give high schools the chance to catch students up before they get to college – and need remediation.

The committee approved an amendment that would make use of the tests voluntary for school districts. But the bill still contains language that would allow spending of up to $1 million from the State Education Fund to pay for tests. The panel approved the amended bill 5-0, and it now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee because of its price tag.

The committee also unanimously approved Senate Bill 12-057, originally intended to exempt teachers of Native American languages from state teacher licensing requirements. That attracted the interest of various education interest groups, and the totally rewritten version of the bill passed by the committee includes various special requirements for such teachers.

Interesting enrollment count bill surfaces

House Bill 12-1306, a suggested solution to the issue of school districts having to take new students after the Oct. 1 enrollment count date and thereby not receiving funds for those students, was introduced Wednesday.

The bill would create a mechanism by which school districts and Charter School Institute schools that gained pupils after the Oct. 1 count could claim reimbursement from the state for the extra pupils. According to the bill text, this is directed at the issue of online students returning to traditional schools after the count date, so schools would be compensated at the online per-pupil rate. Additional enrollment would be measured by the number of students who took state math tests and the 11th grade ACT test in the spring compared to the Oct. 1 count.

The bill is sponsored by King and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker. The lack of a Democratic cosponsor in a divided legislature could be an impediment.

Charter bills advance in Senate

The Senate Wednesday also gave preliminary approval to two charter school bills.

Senate Bill 12-061 would add to the current requirements for charter school applications, change application filing and decision deadlines, impose new requirements on charter school authorizers and create new standards for revoking the charters of struggling schools.

Senate Bill 12-067 would require all charter schools to be incorporated as non-profits and would prohibit school boards and the Charter School Institute from approving charter applications submitted by for-profit entities. Supporters say the bill wouldn’t affect any current charters.

Both bills stemmed from proposals developed by a study commission that was formed in 2010 in the wake of the management and financial problems of the Cesar Chavez Charter School Network. The bills have sparked little debate so far in the 2012 session.

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.

Tennessee Votes 2018

Early voting begins Friday in Tennessee. Here’s where your candidates stand on education.

PHOTO: Creative Commons

Tennesseans begin voting on Friday in dozens of crucial elections that will culminate on Aug. 2.

Democrats and Republicans will decide who will be their party’s gubernatorial nominee. Those two individuals will face off in November to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Tennessee’s next governor will significantly shape public education, and voters have told pollsters that they are looking for an education-minded leader to follow Haslam.

In Memphis, voters will have a chance to influence schools in two elections, one for school board and the other for county commission, the top local funder for schools, which holds the purse strings for schools.

To help you make more informed decisions, Chalkbeat asked candidates in these four races critical questions about public education.

Here’s where Tennessee’s Democratic candidates for governor stand on education

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley hope to become the state’s first Democratic governor in eight years.

Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor answer the big questions on education

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and businessman Bill Lee are campaigning to succeed fellow Republican Haslam as governor, but first they must defeat each other in the 2018 primary election.

Memphis school board candidates speak out on what they want to change

Fifteen people are vying for four seats on the Shelby County Schools board this year. That’s much higher stakes compared to two years ago when five seats were up for election with only one contested race.

Aspiring county leaders in charge of money for Memphis schools share their views

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners and county mayor are responsible for most school funding in Memphis. Chalkbeat sent a survey to candidates asking their thoughts on what that should look like.

Early voting runs Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, July 28. Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 2.

full board

Adams 14 votes to appoint Sen. Dominick Moreno to fill board vacancy

State Sen. Dominick Moreno being sworn in Monday evening. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

A state senator will be the newest member of the Adams 14 school board.

Sen. Dominick Moreno, a graduate of the district, was appointed Monday night on a 3-to-1 vote to fill a vacancy on the district’s school board.

“He has always, since I have known him, cared about this community,” said board member David Rolla, who recalled knowing Moreno since grade school.

Moreno will continue to serve in his position in the state legislature.

The vacancy on the five-member board was created last month, when the then-president, Timio Archuleta, resigned with more than a year left on his term.

Colorado law says when a vacancy is created, school board must appoint a new board member to serve out the remainder of the term.

In this case, Moreno will serve until the next election for that seat in November 2019.

The five member board will see the continued rollout of the district’s improvement efforts as it tries to avoid further state intervention.

Prior to Monday’s vote, the board interviewed four candidates including Joseph Dreiling, a former board member; Angela Vizzi; Andrew LaCrue; and Moreno. One woman, Cynthia Meyers, withdrew her application just as her interview was to begin. Candidate, Vizzi, a district parent and member of the district’s accountability committee, told the board she didn’t think she had been a registered voter for the last 12 months, which would make her ineligible for the position.

The board provided each candidate with eight general questions — each board member picked two from a predetermined list — about the reason the candidates wanted to serve on the board and what they saw as their role with relation to the superintendent. Board members and the public were barred from asking other questions during the interviews.

Moreno said during his interview that he was not coming to the board to spy for the state Department of Education, which is evaluating whether or not the district is improving. Nor, he added, was he applying for the seat because the district needs rescuing.

“I’m here because I think I have something to contribute,” Moreno said. “I got a good education in college and I came home. Education is the single most important issue in my life.”

The 7,500-student district has struggled in the past year. The state required the district to make significant improvement in 2017-18, but Adams 14 appears to be falling short of expectations..

Many community members and parents have protested district initiatives this year, including cancelling parent-teacher conferences, (which will be restored by fall), and postponing the roll out of a biliteracy program for elementary school students.

Rolla, in nominating Moreno, said the board has been accused of not communicating well, and said he thought Moreno would help improve those relationships with the community.

Board member Harvest Thomas was the one vote against Moreno’s appointment. He did not discuss his reason for his vote.

If the state’s new ratings this fall fail to show sufficient academic progress, the State Board of Education may direct additional or different actions to turn the district around.