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Stimulus cash bails out CDE programs

More than $7 million in federal stimulus funds will be used to pay for an assortment of state education support programs that had lost their state funding to budget cuts or were never funded in the first place.


The allocations were announced formally Tuesday by Gov. Bill Ritter’s office, but they had been expected for some time.

While the use of stimulus funds saves the programs for now, the money basically provides a one-time fix, and the long-term survival of the programs will depend on future state or other funding. The state’s revenue picture is grim for at least a couple more years, so continued funding of these efforts could be in doubt.

But, keeping the programs alive also is seen as a way to enhance Colorado’s standing in the competition for federal Race to the Top funds, another part of the federal stimulus program. (Ritter is using a different pot of stimulus money to shore up the CDE support programs.)

“These strategic investments will allow us to continue leading Colorado forward, and they’ll pay untold dividends down the road,” said Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who is coordinating the state’s R2T application. That bid is being prepared and will be submitted later this fall.

Here’s a rundown of the programs and the amounts they’re receiving:

  • $1 million for a grant program that school districts can tap to develop alternative teacher compensation programs. (State funding for this was cut earlier.)
  • $500,000 to develop the new educator identifier system, which was authorized by a 2009 law but not funded. (This will be matched by $400,000 in private funds.
  • $1.5 million to expand use of the Teach for America program in Colorado.
  • $2.5 million for further work on the Colorado Growth Model data system.
  • $1.3 million to reinstate a system of stipends for teachers who hold national board certifications. There are higher stipends for such teachers who work in low-performing schools. There’s also $200,000 to reinstate a stipend program for national board assessments, which helps teachers with the costs of the exams.
  • $53,000 to help implement the state new high-school/college dual enrollment program, also created by a 2009 law.
  • $300,000 to help launch a new CDE dropout prevention office, yet another program created by the 2009 legislature but not funded.
  • $25,000 for a principal leadership program created by the 2008 legislature but also hampered by funding problems.

States will be scored in the R2T competition partly on the strength of their applications in four broad areas – standards and assessments, data systems, turning around low-performing schools and teacher and school leader effectiveness.

State education leaders freely acknowledge that Colorado is weakest in teacher and leader effectiveness, so some of the programs being funded seem intended to bolster the state’s case in that area.

Volunteer committees are preparing proposals in those four areas, and another round of panel meetings is set for next week.

Further background on Colorado’s R2T bid