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The Daily Churn: Monday

What’s churning:

UpdatedAs expected, K-12 schools and higher education were pretty much unscathed in the latest round of state budget balancing, announced by Gov. Bill Ritter this afternoon.

He proposed that the state keep its 2010-11 books balanced – and maintain a 2 percent reserve – by using $144 million in extra federal Medicaid support, taking advantage of about $77 million in higher-than-expected income tax collections, transferring $53 million from various special state funds to the general fund and making $6.2 million in cuts, including $1.3 million from the Department of Corrections and the rest from holding positions open and delaying hiring elsewhere in state government. (Such freezes don’t directly affect colleges and universities, which run their own personnel systems.)

Among the special funds being tapped are $9 million from the new medical marijuana fund and $9.4 million from a mineral tax fund used for college construction and maintenance. Other funds that distribute mineral revenue to local government also go hit.

Both sectors of education took significant cuts when the 2010-11 budget year started, although K-12 will get some relief through the recently announced $160 million in Edujobs funding. Education spending may be somewhat protected because further cuts could jeopardize the state’s Edujobs eligibility.

But never say never. Additional state revenue forecasts will be issued at the end of September and the end of December. As Ritter noted in a statement, “We face more struggles and more difficult choices in the months ahead. All options must be on the table in order for us to keep our budget balanced.”

The Race to the Top winners are scheduled to be released at 10 a.m. mountain time Tuesday. U.S. Department of Education officials e-mailed the news to state officials today, and the word was leaking out of education blogs and in Tweets. Colorado, with a $175 million application, is among 17 other states and the District of Columbia in the list of finalists. (Refresh your memory on the details of Colorado’s application.)
The president of the nation’s largest teachers union is in Colorado to talk about union-led school transformation. National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel spent the morning at Denver’s Math & Science Leadership Academy, a two-year-old innovation school created and led by teachers. Van Roekel was to tour the school, co-located at Rishel Middle School in southwest Denver, and participate in a roundtable discussion with Colorado Education Association President Beverly Ingle and Denver Classroom Teachers Association President Henry Roman. Van Roekel also was to serve lunch to students. We’ll post video later.

What’s on tap:

Students in the state’s largest school district go back to class. Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson will be welcoming students at the new Arvada K-8 School, which was formed from Russell Elementary and Arvada Middle School. Jeffco board members voted to close Russell this past spring to save money. The property has been sold to Jefferson County, which is expected to put a Head Start program there. (Our partner 9News.com has video of opening day.)

Good reads from elsewhere:

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