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The Daily Churn: Thursday

Updated 1 p.m.Denver Public Schools officials today announced that enrollment has increased by about 2,200 students, bringing the district’s student count to some 79,500. About half the growth was in the middle school grades. It’s the second straight year of significant district growth (see news release).

Friday is “count day” for most state school districts and charters, the day on which student numbers are tallied for state funding purposes. (There is some flexibility in the count system to include students absent on Friday, and enrollment counting is more complicated than just taking attendance. The CDE manual on enrollment counting runs to 40 pages.)

According to recent local media reports, other districts reporting increases this year include Boulder Valley among larger districts, plus Alamosa, Falcon, Pueblo County, Steamboat Springs and Telluride. Declines have been reported in Pueblo City and Parachute.

Districts have a few weeks after Oct. 1 to verify their figures (and meet all the requirements of that 40-page manual) before they have to report to the state. So, many districts don’t release figures until they’ve double-checked their math. Aurora, for instance, has projected growth of 225 students this year but isn’t yet ready to put a number to the actual increase.

Bob Schaffer, chair of the State Board of Education, told EdNews today, “I’m not anxious” for education Commissioner Dwight Jones to leave. “We owe Dwight quite a lot.”

The Clark County, Nevada, school board Wednesday offered Jones its superintendent job (see story). As Schaffer noted, Jones and the Las Vegas district still need to negotiate a contract.

Schaffer said the state board hasn’t “formally” discussed next steps, “just ideas on a one-to-one basis.” He continued, “I expect if the commissioner leaves we would consider any recommendations he has about succession. … That may entail an interim. We’re not rushing to make plans just yet.” He said it’s “unlikely” any decision about a new commissioner would be made before the end of the year.

What’s churning:

Speculation about Jones’ successor is expected to ramp up quickly in the wake of the Las Vegas decision. Since two incumbents are leaving the State Board of Education, the board is almost certain to ask Jones to recommend an interim commissioner. Who that might be will juice the rumor mill in days to come as well. So far, few names have surfaced as possible permanent replacements for Jones. The most prominent, of course, is Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who, along with Gov. Bill Ritter, is not running for reelection in November. Whether a majority-Republican board would select Democrat O’Brien is an open question, and odds are the board will remain Republican – and perhaps become a bit more conservative – after the election. EdNews questioning of various education insiders today turned up the name of former Littleton Superintendent Stan Scheer, who now heads the Murietta Schools in in Riverside County, California. Stay tuned as more names surface in the coming days and weeks.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • The empire strikes back: For-profit college supporters rally in D.C.
  • The phantom lunch menace: A California district billed the government $5.6 million for non-existent lunches.
  • Return of the integration plan: Louisville tries integrating by income.
  • Home is where the teacher is: A Denver school’s home visits pay dividends.

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