Who Is In Charge

Monday Churn: Revenues edge up

Updated 3:15 p.m. – A slowly improving economy has sparked growth in state revenues since the last official forecasts three months ago, according to new projections issued this afternoon.

The Office of State Planning and Budgeting calculated revenues for 2012-13 will be up to $164.5 million higher that previously projected. Legislative economists calculated $132 million in growth.

In a statement, Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “We look forward to working with the Joint Budget Committee to proportionally restore some of the difficult cuts we already proposed in the budget. That means taking care of our state’s neediest seniors, supporting local governments and doing all we can to fund K-12 and higher education to their fullest potential.”

Henry Sobanet, Hickenlooper’s budget director, told reporters after a legislative briefing that there’s really about $149 million that could be used to reduce about $188 million in total proposed cuts to K-12, higher education, grants to local government and some senior programs.

So, Sobanet said, about 80 percent of the proposed cuts could be rolled back, depending on what the legislature decides.

The administration’s existing budget plan calls for about $48 million in K-12 cuts and $30 million in higher education reductions.

The governor is sticking with his proposal to not restore a $100 million senior citizen property tax break. Instead he wants to target relief to low-income seniors.

House Republicans have been pressing to restore the so-called homestead exemption, so the administration and lawmakers will have to reach compromise on that issue before the 2012-13 budget is passed.

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What’s on tap:

TODAY:

From Schoolhouse to Courthouse: Education and the Courts, part of CU-Denver’s Center for Education Policy Analysis series, is an hour-long talk beginning at 11:45 a.m. at 1380 Lawrence St. Joshua Dunn, an associate professor at CU-Colorado Springs and a regular contributor to Education Next, will provide an overview of the relationship between courts and education with a focus on school finance litigation.

The Colorado School Finance Partnership and the Colorado Department of Education are sponsoring a panel discussion on school funding options at 6 p.m. Monday at The University Club, 1673 Sherman St. in Denver. Panelists include national experts, such as Eric Hanushek of Stanford and Marguerite Roza of the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and state figures such as Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver.

TUESDAY

The Boulder Valley school board has a special meeting at 5 p.m. to review data as part of a goal-setting process. The session is at 6500 Arapahoe in Boulder. Agenda

The Douglas County school board has a 5 p.m. meeting scheduled at 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock, with the public portion beginning at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a discussion of Monday’s state revenue forecast, which may impact cuts at high schools, and a not-yet-filed resolution on open negotiations between the board and the teachers union. Previous story on public contract talks.

The Aurora school board has a meeting scheduled at 6 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St. The agenda includes an update on the 2012-13 budget, results of a staff climate survey and a resolution in support of Senate Bill 12-015, which would create a separate category of tuition for undocumented students. More on Senate Bill 12-015.

WEDNESDAY

The Adams 12-Five Star school board has a 7 p.m. meeting scheduled at 1500 E. 128th Avenue, Thornton. Agenda

FRIDAY

Jeffco school board members meet at 8:30 a.m. for a daylong work session to discuss governance principles, student achievement and monitoring of district work. This is the board’s fifth session monitored by facilitator Jim Weigel. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Race and teaching: Today’s Denver Post has an article on the continuing concerns of African-American teachers in Denver Public Schools. EdNews took a closer look at this issue in May and found it’s a concern across the state.

Teachers skeptical: An online survey of 10,000 U.S. teachers has found that only 16 percent believe linking student test performance to teacher pay is “absolutely essential” or “very important” in retaining good teachers. The poll was conducted by education publisher Scholastic and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. USA Today has the story.

Westwood, AG settle: For-profit Westwood College has reached a multi-million settlement with the attorney general’s office over consumer protection allegations involving its student loan program. The Denver Business Journal has details.

Immigration friction: The Roaring Fork school district and police within its boundaries have crafted an agreement that urges “extraordinary discretion” whenever school resource police officers deal with immigrant students and families. The issue has been a touchy one in the district, and one student group isn’t happy with the agreement. The Glenwood Springs Post Independent has the story.

Colorado and corruption: A months-long investigation into transparency in government by the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity finds not a single state earning an A and only 5 states were given B’s. Colorado ranked 33rd among the 50 states, with a D+ letter grade. Read more about the investigation in this news release and find out why Colorado received such a low score.


The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

Raise your voice

Memphis, what do you want in your next school superintendent?

PHOTO: Kyle Kurlick for Chalkbeat

Tennessee’s largest school district needs a permanent leader. What kind of superintendent do you think Shelby County Schools should be looking for?

Now is the chance to raise your voice. The school board is in the thick of finalizing a national search and is taking bids from search firms. Board members say they want a leader to replace former superintendent Dorsey Hopson in place within 18 months. They have also said they want community input in the process, though board members haven’t specified what that will look like. In the interim, career Memphis educator Joris Ray is at the helm.

Let us know what you think is most important in the next superintendent.  Select responses will be published.

Asking the candidates

How to win over Northwest Side voters: Chicago aldermen candidates hone in on high school plans

PHOTO: Cassie Walker Burke / Chalkbeat Chicago
An audience member holds up a green sign showing support at a forum for Northwest side aldermanic candidates. The forum was sponsored by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

The residents filing into the auditorium of Sharon Christa McAuliffe Elementary School Friday wanted to know a few key things from the eager aldermanic candidates who were trying to win their vote.

People wanted to know which candidates would build up their shrinking open-enrollment high schools and attract more students to them.

They also wanted specifics on how the aldermen, if elected, would coax developers to build affordable housing units big enough for families, since in neighborhoods such as Logan Square and Hermosa, single young adults have moved in, rents have gone up, and some families have been pushed out.

As a result, some school enrollments have dropped.

Organized by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Friday’s event brought together candidates from six of the city’s most competitive aldermanic races. Thirteen candidates filled the stage, including some incumbents, such as Aldermen Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st  Ward), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward), and Milly Santiago (31st Ward).

They faced tough questions — drafted by community members and drawn at random from a hat — about bolstering high school enrollment, recruiting more small businesses, and paving the way for more affordable housing.

When the audience members agreed with their positions, they waved green cards, with pictures of meaty tacos. When they heard something they didn’t like, they held up red cards, with pictures of fake tacos.

Red cards weren’t raised much. But the green cards filled the air when candidates shared ideas for increasing the pull of area open-enrollment high schools by expanding dual-language programs and the rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Related: Can a program designed for British diplomats fix Chicago schools? 

“We want our schools to be dual language so people of color can keep their roots alive and keep their connections with their families,” said Rossana Rodriguez, a mother of a Chicago Public Schools’ preschooler and one of challengers to incumbent Deb Mell in the city’s 33rd Ward.  

Mell didn’t appear at the forum, but another candidate vying for that seat did: Katie Sieracki, who helps run a small business. Sieracki said she’d improve schools by building a stronger feeder system between the area’s elementary schools, which are mostly K-8, and the high schools.

“We need to build bridges between our local elementary schools and our high schools, getting buy-in from new parents in kindergarten to third grade, when parents are most engaged in their children’s education,” she said.

Sieracki said she’d also work to design an apprenticeship program that connects area high schools with small businesses.

Green cards also filled the air when candidates pledged to reroute tax dollars that are typically used for developer incentives for school improvement instead.

At the end of the forum, organizers asked the 13 candidates to pledge to vote against new tax increment financing plans unless that money went to schools. All 13 candidates verbally agreed.

Aldermen have limited authority over schools, but each of Chicago’s 50 ward representatives receives a $1.32 million annual slush fund that be used for ward improvements, such as playgrounds, and also can be directed to education needs. And “aldermanic privilege,” a longtime concept in Chicago, lets representatives give the thumbs up or down to developments like new charters or affordable housing units, which can affect school enrollment.

Related: 7 questions to ask your aldermanic candidates about schools

Aldermen can use their position to forge partnerships with organizations and companies that can provide extra support and investment to local schools.

A January poll showed that education was among the top three concerns of voters in Chicago’s municipal election. Several candidates for mayor have recently tried to position themselves as the best candidate for schools in TV ads.