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Thursday Churn: Hick gets moving

What’s churning:

Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper has rolled out a transition plan but a lot of details – like the names of transition team members – remain blank.

Speaking at a Capitol news conference Wednesday, Hickenlooper said that Joe Garcia, his running mate and president of CSU-Pueblo, and Denver entrepreneur John Huggins, will lead the transition effort. Huggins has advised Hicklooper in the past.

The transition effort is named Partners for Colorado, and a bit more information about transition plans can be founded on its website. The group will have 14 co-chairs heading committees assigned to look at various aspects of state government and issues facing the state and to make recommendations for policy initiatives by the new administration.

Each committee – the number is unclear – will have two to four co-chairs and about two dozen members. In his comments to reporters, Hickenlooper had lots to say about non-partisanship, bipartisanship, economic development and jobs but made only passing references to education.

“Not so fast” is the reaction of Statehouse Democrats to Republican claims that the GOP has gained the majority in the legislature’s lower house. The Dems think tight vote margins in races involving Reps. Debbie Benefield of Arvada and Dianne Primavera of Broomfield might swing in favor of the Dems once every last ballot is counted.

If the GOP does take control of the house, Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, is considered the likely candidate for chair of the House Education Committee. The rest of the Republican lineup is a question mark, given that only GOP Reps. Ken Summers of Lakewood and Carole Murray of Castle Rock likely wil return to the committee. The panel had 13 members in the last couple of sessions.

Democratic committee members Reps. Judy Solano, Nancy Todd, Sue Schafer and Cherilyn Peniston all won reelection Tuesday. They generally hold traditional views on education issues. The embattled Benefield also is in that camp. Last session’s chair, Mike Merrifield of Colorado Springs, won’t be returning because of term limits. Democrat Karen Middleton of Aurora has resigned from the legislature. Committee member and reform-oriented Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, won reelection Tuesday.

The composition of the Senate Education Committee is expected to remain much the same as in the last two years, although Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, reportedly is leaving the panel to join the Joint Budget Committee.

Denver Public Schools tonight will formally announce its new schools and co-location proposal for fall 2011, including changes in Far Northeast Denver. A slideshow already posted on the district website shows, as expected, district leaders want to place an elementary version of the Denver Center for International Studies at Ford Elementary and a 6-12 version at Montbello.

They’re also proposing a KIPP charter middle school share space at Noel Middle School and a second SOAR charter move into Oakland Elementary. In Near Northeast Denver, University Prep Charter would go into the former Crofton School.

Expect some lively debate as the oft-divided board takes on one of its most divisive subjects – what to do with long-struggling neighborhood schools. A four-hour work session begins at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Public comment isn’t traditionally heard at board work sessions but two meetings are set aside to get community input – the first is Monday at 5 p.m.

Two finalists have been named for the position of dean of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
They are David L. Ikenberry of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Kenneth A. Kavajecz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What’s on tap:

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Colorado School of Mines to formally receive the higher education strategic plan and to review tuition flexibility plans submitted by the CSU System, Metro State and Fort Lewis College. Gov. Bill Ritter will talk about the strategic plan during a 2 p.m. news conference in his Capitol office.

The series of town hall meetings on proposals for a new state testing system moves to Grand Junction with a 5-7 p.m. session in the college center at Mesa State College.

The Jeffco school board meets at 3 p.m. in the board room of the Education Services Center, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden (agenda).

Good reads from elsewhere:

Common ground: President Obama could fine GOP allies in Congress on education reform. Washington Post.
D.C. changes: Union election could shape future of D.C. reforms. Education Week.
Letter grades: NYC releases report cards on its 331 high schools. Gotham Schools.

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