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Wednesday Churn: A new president

Updated 2:15 p.m. – Colorado Northwestern Community College is getting a non-traditional president in former legislator and cabinet official Russ George.

Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, announced Tuesday that George would start Jan. 24 as president of the two-year school, which has campuses in Rangely and Craig plus three satellite centers in other towns.

George, originally from Rifle, was in the legislature from 1993 to 2000, including service as House speaker. He was director of the Division of Wildlife and of the Department of Natural Resources for Gov. Bill Owens and director of the Department of Transportation under Gov. Bill Ritter. George also was an active member of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which produced the new higher ed strategic plan last year. Text of news release

New Department of Education employee Leanne Emm has been named interim director of school finance. Vody Herrmann, CDE’s respected finance director for more than a decade, announced Friday that she’s retiring in March. Before joining CDE, Emm worked in budget and finance for the Jeffco schools for nearly 14 years.

What’s churning:

The House and Senate education committees convene for the first time in 2011 with a joint session for the annual “oversight” hearing for the Department of Higher Education.

The session gives higher ed leaders a chance to pitch the importance of the system and warn of the budget challenges facing the state’s colleges and universities. You can listen in on the legislature’s audio system. The meeting probably will start between 9:30 and 10 a.m., after brief morning floor sessions are recessed.

In case you missed it, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg is proposing a $10 million increase in school budgets in 2011-12, despite an expected state funding cut of up to $20 million.

Boasberg said cuts to central services, enrollment increases and operational savings accumulated over the past two years will allow the state’s second-largest district to bolster individual school budgets by 2.3 percent. Winning more than $80 million in competitive grant funding over the past two years also helps.

“At a time when districts are continuing to endure severe budget cuts, we’re pleased to propose a budget to our Board of Education that significantly increases dollars going to our classrooms,” Boasberg said in an afternoon press conference.

Read the full news release here and see the budget presentation here.

DPS board member Andrea Merida sent out her own press release prior to Boasberg’s afternoon event, criticizing district leaders for failing to get input on budget priorities from key stakeholders such as the teachers’ union and parents. Here’s her take.

What’s on tap:

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet at 6:30 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. Here’s the agenda, which includes a report on special education demographics at Westgate charter, a school for at-risk gifted students.

And, speaking of district budget cuts, the Adams 12 board reconvenes tomorrow for a work session with their community on budget priorities. The district expects to cut another $25 million for 2011-12 and is asking for public input. The session begins at 6:30 p.m., same place as tonight’s meeting. Here’s more info.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • Aurora delay: School board delays decision on high school electives changes. Denver Post
  • IMPACT in trouble?: Michelle Rhee’s signature teacher evaluation system criticized by new mayor. Washington Post
  • Parent trigger challenges: The devil is in the implementation details for Calif. trigger law. L.A. Times

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