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Jones: I’m still on the job

Colorado Department of Education
Colorado Department of Education

Cautioning that “This is certainly not any kind of goodbye speech,” education Commissioner Dwight Jones Wednesday did talk with the State Board of Education about the possibility, the likelihood – whatever you want to call it – that he will soon leave to become superintendent of the Clark County Schools in Las Vegas, Nev.

“Nothing official has happened to date … the process is still ongoing,” Jones said of his contract negotiations with Clark County. Jones thanked the board, CDE staff and educators around the state for their support and kind words and said, “I am still giving my full-time attention to being the commissioner … until the final contract is agreed to.”

Board Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, said, “I anticipated at some point today we’d touch on process” and stressed that the board isn’t going to rush into a search until it’s certain of Jones’ future.

If Jones does leave, “the second thing we need to consider highly is the commissioner’s recommendations.” Schaffer said. “I assume that would involve an interim commissioner.” The chair said he also expects the hunt for a replacement would involve “a national search.”

Two board members, Republicans Randy DeHoff of the 6th District and Peggy Littleton of the 5th, are leaving the board after the election. Both stressed they have no interest in helping choose a successor. “The new board is the one that has to deal with that,”DeHoff said. “Absolutely,” said Littleton.

Schaffer and member Elaine Gantz Berman, D-1st District, praised Jones. Schaffer said, “We believe it’s in the state’s best interest for him to stay.”

Berman said, “If he decides to depart … I for one make a firm commitment to keep to the reforms” started under Jones.

Meeting notes

Aid for six districts approved

The board voted to spend $3.3 million in emergency funds to aid six districts with cash flow problems because of the suspension of a state loan program. The districts are Gunnison, Eagle, South Routt, Cripple Creek-Victor, East Grand and Westcliffe. See this story for background on this issue.

Funding change for gifted and talented in the works

The board issued formal notice of a hearing on a proposed rule change that the would eliminate the current requirement that school districts match state aid they receive for gifted and talented education programs.

The proposal has raised fears among G&T advocates that it will lead to cuts in local districts spending, giving the overall budget cuts districts are wrestling with these days. The Department of Education, relying on advice from the attorney general, feels the current requirement isn’t legally supported.

Read more about this issue in this post on our companion website, EdNews Parent. And you can read the text of the proposed rule change here.

Board clears Adams 14 board

The board formally ratified the findings of a CDE staff report, which concluded that the Adams 14 school district didn’t owe money to the Community Leadership Academy charter school.

The district and the charter have long had a rocky relationship, and the school both filed an appeal with the board asking the district’s exclusive chartering authority be revoked and asked for a review of various financial issues. The board month rejected the appeal on chartering authority (see story). As a procedural matter, the board had to act separately on the review, and that’s what it did Wednesday.

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