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Thursday Churn: Online schools audit

What’s churning:

Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, on Wednesday renewed his call for an audit of online schools in a second letter to the Legislative Audit Committee.

“This is not a political issue. It’s a simple matter of accountability and oversight,” Shaffer wrote. “Please put partisan politics aside and do the right thing by approving this audit request.”

Shaffer first called for an emergency audit on Sept. 26, citing several Colorado Department of Education reports that he said raised “serious concerns” about the effectiveness of the state’s full-time online programs.

On Wednesday, Shaffer’s letter cited “several investigative reports,” including a recent series by Education News Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, which found student turnover rates topping 50 percent in online schools. Read the series.

The Legislative Audit Committee meets next on Nov. 7-8. After Shaffer’s first request, committee members voted 5-3 to authorize State Auditor Dianne Ray to use eight hours of staff time to study the feasibility of such an audit. She’s expected to report back to the committee at the next meeting.

Read the EdNews story on the committee’s reaction to Shaffer’s initial letter and read his second letter.

Former President George W. Bush is in Denver today for a brief visit with about 25 community leaders and school reform advocates.

Bush will meet with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, fellows in the Get Smart Schools leadership program, education funders and others during an hour-long meeting this morning. The meeting will begin at about 8 a.m. at the Get Smart Schools offices, 2543 California St. After the meeting, Bush will make a statement to the press but will take no questions.

Fellows in the Get Smart Schools leadership program receive a year’s training to prepare them to run charter or innovation schools. Bush was scheduled to meet with the group last February, but canceled.

Get Smart Schools is working with the Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership, which is creating “a network of innovators around the country that are changing the way school principals are chosen, trained, evaluated and empowered,” according to its website.

What’s on tap:

Jefferson County school board members hold a 5 p.m. special meeting to vote on a charter school application from Global Outreach Charter Academy, followed by a study session on training for new board members. It’s at 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. Agenda

Denver Public Schools board members have a 5 p.m. meeting at 900 Grant St., followed by a public comment session. The agenda includes a vote on a new policy for board member spending, after recent revelations that some board members were over their $5,000 spending allowances.

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