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Wednesday Churn: JBC gets a warning

Updated 10 a.m. – Colorado runs the risk of failing to meet constitutional requirements for funding schools, the Joint Budget Committee was told today.

Committee analyst Carolyn Kampman said continuing the current pattern of financing K-12 districts could mean the state will be out of compliance with the state constitution’s requirement for a thorough and uniform public education system by 2015-16.

That’s because the current pattern of budget cuts will mean the state can afford to pay for only base per-pupil funding and won’t have any additional revenue to provide money to districts for differences in staff cost of living, percentage of at-risk students and district size.

Kampman’s briefing paper recommends that the JBC start consulting with other legislative leaders and the governor’s office about possible changes in the school finance system.

Read the briefing paper here, and check EdNews later for full coverage of the committee hearing on school spending in 2012-13.

What’s churning:

The Joint Budget Committee will get a two-hour seminar on K-12 spending today when members are briefed on options for school funding in 2012-13.

The briefing, like those for all state departments, is the second major step in the budget process, which began Nov. 1 with the release of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget proposal (see story) and ends in April or May with a final decision by the full legislature.

Veteran JBC analyst Carolyn Kampman has prepared a detailed analysis of school support, which will be released this morning when she starts walking the committee through the document, explaining the K-12 funding system and presenting various options for the committee to consider. Kampman also will compile questions raised by the committee and forward them to Department of Education officials, who will have an opportunity to answer later.

The general feeling in education circles is that school funding will be cut again for 2012-13; it’s just a question of how much.

The JBC will be briefed Dec. 1 on other parts of CDE’s budget, and then department brass will have a chance on Dec. 16 to make their spending case and to answer questions raised at the two briefings.

One issue will be the $25 million cost of developing a new state testing system. CDE asked for the funds in its budget request and Hickenlooper denied it. Education Commissioner Robert Hammond has said he’ll make a pitch to JBC for the money.

Today’s briefing runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the JBC hearing room in the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. EdNews will be covering the event, including with Tweets as warranted, and you can listen live here.

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Assistant Superintendent Antwan Wilson this morning will announce a multi-million dollar federal grant to support and improve college-readiness programs for students who attend schools in the Northwest Denver community. According to a DPS news release, the grant will support DPS’ efforts to foster college-going cultures in eight schools, following all current sixth and seventh grade students at those schools through their middle and high school years. The event is at 9 a.m. at Centennial ECE-8 School, 4665 Raleigh St.

The Colorado GSA Network is looking for students to serve on its Leadership Council. The Colorado GSA Network is a program to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and their allies. The group has released resource guides to educate students on their rights, on how to start and create programming for Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and on how to combat bullying and harassment. There’s more about the organization here, including a link at the top of the page to find out more about expressing interest in the Leadership Council.

What’s on tap:

The Educational Success Task Force meets today at 1 p.m. at the Colorado Community College System offices, 9101 E. Lowry Blvd. Scroll down at this link for the Nov. 16 agenda.

The St. Vrain School District Board of Education has a 6 p.m. study session scheduled. Election results and board committee assignments are on the agenda. The meeting will be at Mead High School, 12750 County Rd. #7, in Longmont.

The Eagle County Board of Education starts a series of special meetings tonight to begin the process of deciding how to cut $5 million from next year’s school budget. Three high schools are on the list of possible cuts, including Red Canyon High School and the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Eagle County voters earlier this month rejected the school district’s request for a $6 million property tax increase. A reduction in performance pay and cuts to central office staff are also among the budget-balancing steps being eyed. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at 757 E. Third St. in Eagle at 6 p.m., followed by an executive session at 8 p.m. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

The U.S. Congress is considering a spending bill that will make a statement about the federal government’s role in deciding what shows up in school lunches. Congress appears to be pushing back on the Obama administration’s efforts to limit the availability of unhealthy foods in schools. The final version of the spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year. Frozen pizza companies, the salt industry and potato growers are being credited — or criticized — for their lobbying efforts to make the changes. Read about it here.

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