New bills

Bill would incentivize teachers to work in struggling schools

Rep. Kevin Priola has introduced his promised bill to create a pilot program that would give financial incentives to highly effective teachers who work in struggling schools.

The bill was introduced Tuesday, the same day that Priola joined the 2015 session. He’s been out while recovering from a skiing accident. The Henderson Republican tried a similar bill last session, but it didn’t gain traction. He’s hoping for better luck this year.

Among other education bills introduced in the last couple of days are Republican measures designed to protect student data and another bill to pull Colorado out of the Common Core State Standards.

Also introduced Tuesday was a measure intended to help boards of cooperative educational services take over some administrative functions for small school districts and charter schools. District consolidation is considered a nonstarter in Colorado for various political, geographical, and financial reasons. The new bill seeks to deal in a different way with some of the challenges faced by small districts.

Here’s a quick look at the latest education bills:

House Bill 15-1199 – Comprehensive Republican bill on privacy of student data, including a requirement that most individual student data be destroyed after five years of graduation. Prime sponsors: Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton; Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins

House Bill 15-1200 – Establishes a pilot program to create incentives for highly effective teachers to teach in low-performing schools. Prime sponsor: Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson; Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs

House Bill 15-1201 – Creates a $500,000-a-year grant program for boards of cooperative educational services to provide centralized administrative services to small districts and charter schools that choose to use such services. Prime sponsors: Reps. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, and John Buckner, D-Aurora; Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora

House Bill 15-1208 – Would take Colorado out of the Common Core State Standards, require adoption of new state standards and new Colorado tests and give districts some flexibility in choice of tests. Prime sponsor: Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs.

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts, sponsor information, fiscal notes and much more detail about every 2015 education bill.

Who Is In Charge

Indianapolis Public Schools board gives superintendent Ferebee raise, bonus

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy
Lewis Ferebee

Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee is getting a $4,701 raise and a bonus of $28,000.

The board voted unanimously to approve both. The raise is a 2.24 percent salary increase. It is retroactive to July 1, 2017. Ferebee’s total pay this year, including the bonus, retirement contributions and a stipend for a car, will be $286,769. Even though the bonus was paid this year, it is based on his performance last school year.

The board approved a new contract Tuesday that includes a raise for teachers.

The bonus is 80 percent of the total — $35,000 — he could have received under his contract. It is based on goals agreed to by the superintendent and the board.

These are performance criteria used to determine the superintendent’s bonus are below:

Student recruitment

How common is it for districts to share student contact info with charter schools? Here’s what we know.

PHOTO: Laura Faith Kebede
Staff members of Green Dot Public Schools canvass a neighborhood near Kirby Middle School in the summer of 2016 before reopening the Memphis school as a charter.

As charter schools emerge alongside local school districts across the nation, student addresses have become a key turf war.

Charter schools have succeeded in filling their classes with and without access to student contact information. But their operators frequently argue that they have a right to such information, which they say is vital to their recruitment efforts and gives families equal access to different schools in their area.

Disputes are underway right now in at least two places: In Tennessee, school boards in Nashville and Memphis are defying a new state law that requires districts to hand over such information to charters that request it. A New York City parent recently filed a formal complaint accusing the city of sharing her information improperly with local charter schools.

How do other cities handle the issue? According to officials from a range of school districts, some share student information freely with charters while others guard it fiercely.

Some districts explicitly do not share student information with charter schools. This includes Detroit, where the schools chief is waging an open war with the charter sector for students; Washington, D.C., where the two school sectors coexist more peacefully; and Los Angeles.

Others have clear rules for student information sharing. Denver, for example, set parameters for what information the district will hand over to charter schools in a formal collaboration agreement — one that Memphis officials frequently cite as a model for one they are creating. Baltimore and Boston also share information, although Boston gives out only some of the personal details that district schools can access.

At least one city has carved out a compromise. In New York City, a third-party company provides mass mailings for charter schools, using contact information provided by the school district. Charter schools do not actually see that information and cannot use it for other purposes — although the provision hasn’t eliminated parent concerns about student privacy and fair recruitment practices there.

In Tennessee, the fight by the state’s two largest districts over the issue is nearing a boiling point. The state education department has already asked a judge to intervene in Nashville and is mulling whether to add the Memphis district to the court filing after the school board there voted to defy the state’s order to share information last month. Nashville’s court hearing is Nov. 28.

The conflict feels high-stakes to some. In Memphis, both local and state districts struggle with enrolling enough students. Most schools in the state-run Achievement School District have lost enrollment this year, and the local district, Shelby County Schools, saw a slight increase in enrollment this year after years of freefall.

Still, some charter leaders wonder why schools can’t get along without the information. One Memphis charter operator said his school fills its classes through word of mouth, Facebook ads, and signs in surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’re fully enrolled just through that,” said the leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with the state and local districts. “It’s a non-argument for me.”

A spokeswoman for Green Dot Public Schools, the state-managed charter school whose request for student information started the legal fight in Memphis, said schools in the Achievement School District should receive student contact information because they are supposed to serve students within specific neighborhood boundaries.

“At the end of the day, parents should have the information they need to go to their neighborhood school,” said the spokeswoman, Cynara Lilly. “They deserve to know it’s open.”