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Friday churn: Jeffco puts closures on hold

Updated 5:10 p.m. – Denver’s election division has rejected an effort to recall Denver School Board President Nate Easley, saying parts of the proposed recall petition are not in compliance with state law.

John McBride, the former school board candidate who launched the effort, can re-file his petition. Easley was elected to represent Far Northeast Denver in 2009. He is part of the board majority that has pushed through dramatic changes in some low-performing schools, including Montbello High School, despite bitter opposition from other board members, the teachers’ union and some community activists and members.

Read the letter outlining issues with McBride’s petition.

Updated 3:45 p.m.Jefferson County school board members are putting any school closures and consolidations on hold through at least 2011-12.

Board members made the decision Thursday night after more discussions of the district’s preliminary five-year facilities master plan, which included the closure and consolidation of up to 16 schools. In the first year, or 2011-12, at least two elementary schools – Thomson and Zerger – were candidates for closure. Read more about the plan here.

“We’re going to continue to look at our options and develop a five-year strategic plan for facilities but we are not in a position to do anything in the immediate future, for this year at least,” said board president Dave Thomas.

While closing and consolidating schools might save Jeffco money in the long run, the initial shuttering of buildings and shifting of students carries a price tag.

“They all have price tags on them and some of them are relatively small,” Thomas said, “but a lot of them have some long-term policy implications and we really want to spend some more time looking at those policy implications.”

That doesn’t mean discussions about a bond issue and tax rate increase are off the table for November 2011, he said.

Updated 3 p.m. – Gaps in early childhood developmental gains, school readiness and academic success will negatively affect the state’s economic health, leaders of the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission told lawmakers and Gov. John Hickenlooper today.

The commission, created by the 2010 legislature, is studying ways to improve health and education outcomes for children 0-8 and specifically to recommend better ways to coordinate fragmented policies and programs.

“Often our efforts are not good enough,” said commissioner co-chair Anna Jo Haynes, citing statistics about childhood poverty and school readiness gaps. Pat Hamill, the other co-chair, said, “We really have no system in the state for early children education.” The group’s report notes there are six state agencies and more than 20 funding sources involved in the field. The commission next year will make recommendations about streamlining such services. Read the full report here.

The commission reported to a joint meeting of four legislative committee and Hickenlooper.

What’s churning:

Conversations about the work of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness tend to focus more on teachers than principals. But school leaders are front and center in today’s School Leadership Academy Advisory Board meeting.

The board was created by the 2008 legislature “to provide a statewide comprehensive leadership and professional development system that identifies, recruits, trains and inducts qualified persons for leadership positions in public schools.” But work didn’t get organized until last year because of funding issues. Members have been updating state principal standards and working with the educator effectiveness council, which is developing broader recommendations for teacher and principal effectiveness.

The leadership academy board meets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the board room at the Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Ave. On the agenda is a revision of Leadership Standards, based on feedback from the educator effectiveness council, and developing the Leadership Academy concept. The council will present the new Colorado standards for school principals at next month’s State Board of Education meeting.

To learn more about the leadership academy board, including a list of members, and to see the agenda, go here. The educator effectiveness council, meanwhile, meets again Monday. See more about that meeting here.

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