Weekend Reads

Tuesday Churn: Budget decisions

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Aurora Public Schools board members tonight will discuss a draft budget plan for 2012-13 that includes cuts of $4 million to $5 million, despite the relatively good news that state school funding will be flat next year.

Superintendent John Barry, who like other superintendents is having to explain cuts in the midst of better-than-expected budget news, explained it this way in a letter to staff:

The new revenue forecast is great economic news from the state. However, we are still facing a $4-5 million gap between revenues and expenditures for 2012-13. This gap is due to year over year cost increases in areas such as PERA, healthcare, energy, and labor. This deficit is on top of a 3.7% inflation factor that is also not funded by the State.

In summary, we have had a $70 million cut in our budget over 3 years and with next year’s projection of a $4-5 million gap and 3.7% inflation we are fast approaching a $80 million cut in our budget over 4 years.

Also tonight, Douglas County school board members will get an update on its 2012-13 budget reduction plan, which is based largely on requiring high school teachers to teach an additional class next year.

Already, Adams 12 Five Star Schools Superintendent Chris Gdowski has announced plans to cut 60 jobs and add furlough days to trim $12 million in 2012-13 while the state’s largest school district, Jeffco Public Schools, is imposing a one-year reductions reprieve to allow community members to consider a possible tax increase in November.

Jeffco board members will hold a public hearing on their budget proposal on Thursday, which follows community forums on the budget held over the weekend. Another budget hearing is planned June 7. Meanwhile, Jeffco employees have another furlough day Friday, one of this year’s cost-savings measures.

Districts must approve their budgets by July 1, though many try to do so before school’s out so their employees leave knowing what’s coming in the fall. Aurora, for example, is expected to vote on their budget May 15.

To see how the proposed School Finance Act, which is expected to be approved, would affect your school district’s funding per-pupil in 2012-13, search our database.

What’s on tap today:

The Colorado State University Board of Governors starts two days of meetings at the Lory Student Center on campus in Fort Collins. Committee meetings are today, and the full board meets Wednesday. Agenda

The Aurora school board has a 6 p.m. meeting scheduled in the Mount Massive Room of the Professional Learning and Conference Center, 15771 E. 1st Ave. The agenda includes presentation of a draft copy of the proposed 2012-13 budget, which returns for a final vote May 15, along with approval of an amended 2012-13 calendar, which provides a 175-day school year plus another 23 days of “fifth block,” additional instruction for selected students. The board also is scheduled to meet in closed session before and after the 6 p.m. board meeting, to discuss personnel issues and strategy for negotiations.

The Douglas County board has a 7 p.m. session scheduled at the administration building, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. The agenda includes an update on the 2012-13 budget and a report on high school scheduling changes under the new budget, which is based on high school teachers taking on an additional class next year.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Falcon 49 innovation update: The Falcon 49 school district east of Colorado Springs has gone superintendent-less and split into innovation zones in a plan that is expected to stretch the limits of the state’s innovation act. Monday night, the oft-contentious board approved the first of what will become four innovation zones – it had been three, each centered around a high school, but the district recently added another zone for its online program. The Colorado Springs Gazette has the story.

School spending investigation: A Call7 analysis finds school districts are still spending money on expensive meals, teacher parties and even gift cards, despite years of repeated budget cuts. “While the totals would never fix the districts’ budget deficits, the spending shows that administrators are not cutting potentially wasteful at the time many schools are cutting education resources,” according to the report.

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.

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.”

reading list

Weekend Reads: ‘Love and love hard,’ a KIPP Tulsa teacher tells us all

PHOTO: Caroline Bauman
  • New Haven’s schools chief has fallen out of favor after seven years there, and now he’s looking to leave. (N.H. Independent)
  • The KIPP charter network urged its schools to act after Terence Crutcher, a KIPP dad, was killed by police in Tulsa. (Chalkbeat)
  • What that action looked like at KIPP Tulsa College Prep, where at least 10 students are related to Crutcher. (Tulsa World)
  • A teacher at the school went viral after sharing her experiences talking to students — and her advice to “love and love hard.” (Facebook)
  • Great teachers are experts at having hard conversations. Here’s their advice to America. (Chalkbeat)
  • One of Nevada’s wealthiest women is also the state’s glamorous board of education president. (Pacific Standard)
  • Two seasoned education policy wonks are leading Donald Trump’s education transition planning. (Politics K-12)
  • Why is Tennessee’s first single-sex charter school thriving? Not for the reason you might think. (The Atlantic)
  • Efforts are underway to improve black students’ experience at a diverse school where they still come out behind. (Bloomberg)