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Tuesday Churn: Scanlan joins Team Hick

Updated 12:30 p.m. – Rep. Christine Scanlan has signed on with the Hickenlooper administration as “director of legislative affairs and strategic initiatives.” In plain English, we assume that translates into chief lobbyist.

Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon
Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon

Scanlan, a Dillon Democrat, previously was president of the Summit County school board and of the Mountain BOCES. She has been considered a rising House Democrat and was a leading figure in some of the key education reform bills of the last three years, including the Colorado Achievement Act for Kids and this year’s controversial educator effectiveness law.

But being a rising Democrat isn’t what it used to be, given that Republicans now hold a 33-32 majority in the House. Scanlan, appointed to the legislature in January 2008, was reelected earlier this month. Her seat will be filled by a Democratic vacancy committee, ensuring the Dems won’t lose another House seat.

According to a release today from Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown, “Scanlan will lead the administration’s legislative strategy and help oversee statewide initiatives on issues such as economic development, education reform, I-70 transportation and forest health.” (See news release.)

Scanlan will team with R.D. Sewald, a Hickenlooper city hall aide who will serve as her deputy, and Alan Salazar, a former top aide to Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, who will coordinate and oversee policy, communications, scheduling and legislative operations.

In case you were wondering: Outgoing state Treasurer Cary Kennedy next month will resume the no-interest loan program that some school districts use to manage their cash flows, top aide Mary Wickersham said today.

The program was canceled in July because of concerns that proposed Amendment 61 would cause the program to have unintended (and bad) side effects on state revenues. That sent some districts scrambling to dig into reserves, get bank lines of credit or draw down state aid payments early. Voters in three districts even passed bond issues designed to raise operating cash from bonds.

None of that matters anymore because A61 was torpedoed by voters, along with companion measures Amendment 61 and Proposition 101.

Some districts, particularly those that rely more heavily on local revenues than on state aid, need help with cash flow because local property tax revenues aren’t collected until spring, late in the fiscal year. State aid is doled out in equal monthly installments.

Kennedy lost her reelection bid to Republican Walker Stapleton.

What’s churning:

Things may be a little quieter than usual next month at the annual Colorado Association of School Boards convention at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs.

Association spokesman Brad Stauffer expects about 800 participants, down from last year’s 1,000, for the Dec. 2-5 event. “In our planning for this year we projected a drop of 20 percent, and that appears to be about how it’s shaking out,” he reports in an email. “We expected budget cuts to play a role in participation. We are seeing some boards sending fewer people and some staying fewer days. With the current economic conditions, we feel this is still a strong showing.”

The CASB gathering long has been a major event on the annual education calendar, drawing legislators, state officials, Department of Education types, vendors and others to schmooze with school board members from around the state. The confab always offers an extensive list of training sessions, panel discussions, speeches and other events; this year’s program runs to nearly 100 pages (more info here).

In case you missed it: There will be one new Republican member on the Senate Education Committee for the upcoming legislative session.

GOP leaders announced Monday afternoon that Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, will replace Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, who will be serving on three other committees. Renfroe, a conservative small businessman, formerly served on the Eaton school board and was elected to his second Senate term earlier this month.

Republican Sens. Nancy Spence of Centennial, long a leading Republican voice on education issues, and Keith King of Colorado Springs, a charter school administrator and school finance expert, will return to the education committee.

Senate Democrats haven’t announced their committee lineups, although it’s expected they will replace Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, on Senate Ed. He’s been assigned to the Joint Budget Committee. Because of the workload, JBC members usually don’t serve on other panels. The other Democrats on education last session were Chair Bob Bacon of Fort Collins, Vice Chair Evie Hudak of Westminster, Rollie Heath of Boulder and Mike Johnston of Denver.

House Republicans and Democrats also haven’t announced committee rosters, although Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, has been named chair of House Ed. Five members of the panel won’t be back in any event. Democratic Chair Mike Merrifield of Colorado Springs is term limited, Democrat Karen Middleton of Aurora didn’t run for reelection, Democrat Debbie Benefield of Arvada was defeated, Democrat Christine Scanlan of Dillon is moving to the executive branch and Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez is headed to Congress. And, 2010 member Frank McNulty of Highlands Ranch will be the new speaker of the House, who generally doesn’t serve on committees. But, the 33-31 partisan split in the House may require some juggling to ensure Republicans have majorities on every panel.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • Still a mess: Central Falls High School in Rhode Island struggling after turmoil. Washington Post
  • Another one bites the dust: Atlanta schools supt. leaving as her star plummets. Education Week
  • Combative: N.J. gov is proving to be a battler on education issues. Education Week

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