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Tuesday Churn: Last chance


What’s churning:

Tonight’s the night for the final school board candidate debates in the state’s largest school districts, Jefferson County and Denver.

All four candidates seeking to fill two seats on the Jefferson County school board are expected to attend tonight’s candidate forum in Evergreen, sponsored by the Jeffco League of Women Voters. It’s from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Evergreen Fire/Rescue Auditorium, 1802 Bergen Parkway in Evergreen.

Candidates Jill Fellman and Preston Branaugh are vying for the District 3 seat representing central and northwest areas of Jeffco, including Arvada and Wheat Ridge. Candidates Jim Powers and Lesley Dahlkemper want the District 4 seat representing central Jeffco, including parts of Lakewood and Edgewater. Jeffco candidates are represented countywide, though they represent geographic areas.

If you can’t make tonight’s debate, check out our Election 2011: Jefferson County School Board page for news coverage including videos of the candidates talking about their positions on vouchers and other issues.

In Denver, seven of nine candidates are expected to attend tonight’s 6 p.m. forum in the Davis Auditorium, 2000 E. Asbury Ave., on the University of Denver campus. It’s sponsored by A+ Denver, Get Smart Schools and Padres & Jovenes Unidos. The moderator is Fox31 TV political reporter Eli Stokols.

Both Emily Sirota, a candidate for the District 1 seat representing southeast Denver, and Arturo Jimenez, the incumbent seeking to retain his seat representing District 5 northwest Denver, said they cannot attend because of prior campaign commitments. Both are sending campaign spokesmen in their place – for Sirota, it will be Kevin Paquette, and for Jimenez, it will be David Sabados.

Paquette and Sabados are both veterans of the Andrew Romanoff for U.S. Senate and James Mejia for Denver Mayor campaigns, and both are on leave from their positions as senior associates of the Denver-based Compass Strategy Group.

Sirota is being challenged by Anne Rowe, while Jimenez is opposed by Jennifer Draper Carson. Rowe and Draper Carson in August were both endorsed by the Denver chapter of Democrats for Education Reform-Colorado.

The DFER-Colorado committee advising on those endorsements included Van Schoales, who stepped in as executive director of A+ Denver on Aug. 1, and former House majority leader Terrance Carroll, who is on the A+ Denver board of directors.

Additionally, DFER-Colorado endorsed Happy Haynes in the five-person citywide at-large race. The other four candidates in the at-large race are John Daniel, Frank Deserino, Roger Kilgore and Jacqui Shumway.

Check out the EdNews’ Election 2011: Denver School Board page for more on the candidates and links to their websites.

What’s on tap

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s first big policy initiative was the “bottom up approach to economic development,” a recovery plan that started with meetings all over the state and individual county plans. (More information here on the economic development approach.)

Now that technique is being applied to one of the administration’s education policy interests, improving early-childhood literacy.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, administration point man on education, and a supporting cast are crisscrossing the state on a “Literacy Bus” this week, holding community meetings in a long list of smaller towns. Colorado Springs is the only city on this week’s tour.

The emphasis of the discussions will be on identifying programs that foster literacy from birth through age 8.

“We will learn how communities foster early childhood literacy and what state leadership can do to support their efforts,” Garcia said in a recent statement. “Gov. Hickenlooper has proven that this kind of community engagement is the right way to build a movement of support toward a common goal.”

In another sign of Hickenlooper’s style, the effort involves several outside partners, including Mile High United Way, Serve Colorado (aka the Governor’s Commission on Community Service), the University of Colorado Denver, The Pearson Foundation and Comcast. Mile High United Way recently received a $3.6 million Social Innovation Fund grant to boost literacy programs across the state and will be making grants to groups.

The Literacy Bus hit Steamboat Springs and Craig yesterday. Today’s itinerary includes Fruita, Rifle and Glenwood Springs. In all, 18 Colorado communities will receive visits between now and Nov. 7. More information & full schedule

The Legislative Task Force to Study School Discipline meeting starts at 9 a.m. in room 0112 of the Capitol.

The Aurora school board meets at 6 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, 1085 Peoria St. The agenda includes an update from the English Language Learners/English Language Acquisition staff.