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Friday Churn: Excellence centers named

Updated 2:30 p.m. – The Department of Education this afternoon announced 32 schools have been honored as “Centers of Excellence” for the 2009-2010 school year. The award recognizes schools showing the highest rates of student growth among all schools that have at least 75 percent at-risk pupils.

Four districts had multiple schools on the list, including Denver (14), Aurora (six), Harrison (three) and Colorado Springs 11 (two). Nineteen of the schools also received the honor for 2008-09. Thirteen other schools that made the 2008-09 list didn’t repeat.

The schools, along with 14 districts recently accredited with distinction (see story), will be recognized during a 10 a.m. event next Thursday at CDE. You can get the full list of Centers of Excellence in this news release.

What’s churning:

The Joint Budget Committee will hear a staff briefing on the Department of Education’s proposed 2010-11 budget from 9 a.m. to noon Friday in the third-floor committee room at the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave.

Outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter has proposed a very modest increase in K-12 spending but not enough to cover inflation and enrollment growth, so don’t expect a festive air. The plan proposes a $43 million increase in total program funding, which is the combined state-local effort to pay classroom operating costs. Current total program funding is a little under $5.4 billion. The state contribution next year would increase $91.2 million while the local share would drop $48.2 million because of declines in local property tax revenues.

What do all those numbers really mean? The base per-pupil funding would rise to $5,585 from $5,530, but the average per-pupil funding (the amount calculated after special forms of aid to districts are factored in) would drop by $39.57 from the current $6,822.

It’s not a pretty picture and, over on our commentary side, teacher Mark Sass writes about some effects on educators of trying to do more with less.

More uplifting a little later in the day is a groundbreaking on the Auraria campus in downtown Denver.

Metropolitan State College will break ground on its planned Student Success Building between 7th and 9th streets along Auraria Parkway during a 10:30 a.m. ceremony. The 145,000 square foot building is designed to support Metro’s programs for first-generation students and will include both classrooms and support services, plus administrative space.

It’s the first Metro-owned building on the Auraria campus and will increase the college’s classroom and administrative space by 25 percent. The $62 million cost is being paid for entirely by student fees. Opening is expected in 2013 (more information).

In case you missed it, Boulder and Douglas County school districts this week kicked off their open enrollment windows for families interested in exploring schools outside their own neighborhoods. Jefferson County and Denver start their choice windows in January.

What’s on tap:

The State Council on Educator Effectiveness meets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Hershner Room at the Wells Fargo Center, 1700 Lincoln St. (agenda). The meeting will be preceded by a 9 a.m. presentation on educator effectiveness sponsored by the Colorado Legacy Foundation. Theodore Hershberg of the University of Pennsylvania and Claire Robertson-Kraft of Operation Public Education who will discuss the framework for school reform contained in the 2009 book “A Grand Bargain for Education Reform: New Rewards and Supports for New Accountability.”

Good reads from elsewhere:

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