Who Is In Charge

Rural district AP class bill advances

The House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would provide funding to rural school districts for offering Advanced Placement classes and tests and also provide bonuses to rural teachers whose students successfully pass the tests.

Colorado CapitolHouse Bill 13-1056 passed a preliminary floor vote Tuesday after several supporting comments by members and no apparent opposition. The bill is the brainchild of Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida, a freshman Republican and retired superintendent.

The goal is to encourage more rural high school students to take AP classes and tests. A legislative staff analysis found that while about 39 percent of all eligible Colorado students participate in AP, only 2 to 7 percent do so in rural districts.

The program would apply to school districts with fewer than 6,500 students and that are otherwise defined as rural by the state Department of Education. (See this list for CDE geographical classifications of districts.)

Districts would receive $500 for every student who completes and AP class and takes an exam, regardless of whether they pass. Districts would receive an additional $500 for every student who passes a test, with $75 of that going to the teachers of each passing student. Teacher bonuses would be capped at $2,000 a year.

Do your homework

Money received by districts would have to be used for costs of the AP program, teacher professional development and to pay AP fees for students who are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch. The program would be limited to 10,000 students a year and would expire in 2017.

The bill’s $710,529 price tag would be paid from the State Education Fund, a dedicated account used for a variety of school funding purposes.

The bill needs a final House roll call vote before it moves to the Senate.

In other action

The House, working to whittle down its calendar before it starts three days of work on the proposed 2013-14 state budget, advanced two other education bills of interest on Tuesday.

House Bill 13-1171 – This measure would allow school districts to develop policies for use of epinephrine injectors by school nurses and other trained personnel on students who experience anaphylaxis because of allergic reactions. Currently nurses can use the devices only on students who have prescriptions for them. The measure received preliminary approval. The bill is optional for districts.

Senate Bill 13-139 – The bill would change the way some supplemental online courses are provided to districts and schools. Under current law those course are managed by the Leadville-based Mountain Board of Cooperative Education Services, which contracts with Colorado Online Learning for classes.

The bill directs the Department of Education to contract with a BOCES to be chosen later that in turn would contract with one or more non-profit online providers for classes. New proposals would be sought every three years. The goal of the bill is to expand online access. The measure applies only to supplemental online classes that students take in addition to regular classes. It doesn’t apply to online-only programs.

The measure received final House approval.

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.