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Wednesday Churn: Notice rule dies

Updated 4 p.m. – A tie vote this afternoon by the Legislative Legal Service Committee effectively killed the State Board of Education rule that requires school districts inform parents when employees are arrested for certain crimes.

The board unanimously approved the rule last April, and it was subsequently challenged in court by the Colorado Education Association. That case is pending, although a Denver judge earlier this fall denied a motion for an injunction against the rule.

State agency rules are governed by a complex review process. Once issued, rules are in effect until the following May 15. For rules to go into effect permanently, the legislature passes a law every year extending rules beyond May 15.

Lawyers from the Office of Legislative Legal Services review new rules and may make recommendations to the Legal Services Committee, a joint House-Senate panel. In this case the staff lawyers recommended the parent notice rule not be extended because they concluded the board didn’t have the legal power to issue it.

A motion to extend the rule died on a 5-5 vote, with committee Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. That means the rule will expire next May 15.

SBE Chair Bob Schaffer, R-1st District, attended the committee hearing and testified. He said after the meeting that he’ll probably start looking around for a legislative sponsor to carry a bill in 2012 that would make parent notification the law.

What’s churning:

The Department of Education and some universities have significant amounts of unspent federal stimulus funds, but officials told the Legislative Audit Committee Tuesday that they plan to use the money before federal deadlines hit.

The committee was briefed by members of the state auditor’s staff on unspent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The staff report (not a full audit) focused on the Department of Education and the Governor’s Energy Office because those agencies have spent less than 75 percent of the funds received. The report also covered three grants to the University of Colorado and one to Colorado State University.

Two grants to CDE and the lieutenant governor’s office totaled $18.9 million, of which $3 million has been spent. The four higher education grants totaled $26.1 million, of which $10.4 million has been spent.

The largest is the $17.4 million longitudinal data systems grant to CDE, of which $2.7 million has been spent. The grant must be used by June 30, 2013. Dan Domagala, CDE chief information officer, said 73 percent of the funds have been committed. “We’re on plan,” he added, to finish the project before the federal deadline.

What’s on tap:


Democratic legislative leaders will offer a look at their 2012 legislative agenda during an 11:30 a.m. Capitol news conference. Senate President Brandon Shaffer of Longmont and Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino also are supposed to unveil the first bill of the session, Senate Bill 12-001.

A briefing on innovation schools is scheduled at 3 p.m. at Colorado Education Association offices in downtown Denver. Kelci Price, with the School of Education & Human Development at CU-Denver, will present the first report from an ongoing three-year study of the state’s innovation law and the first innovation schools in Denver. It’s hosted by CEA, A+ Denver, Denver Public Schools, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Education Reform Now and Get Smart Schools.

The Colorado Springs District 11 board meets at 6:30 p.m. at 1115 N. El Paso St. Agenda

The St. Vrain Valley School District board is scheduled to meet at 395 S. Pratt Parkway in Longmont at 7 p.m. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

The New York Times spent several months analyzing the for-profit online schools provider K12 Inc. and reports its findings in this in-depth article, which notes, “A portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.” Read article

A dispute over land is heating up between Eagle County School District, Stone Creek Charter School and the Charter School Institute. The school district is calling in state officials to investigate. Story in the Vail Daily here.

A third-party analysis of Craig Middle School found some structural concerns and as a precaution students are being kept from entering certain portions of the building. The independent review was sought after problems surfaced at Meeker Elementary School. The Neenan Co., the district’s general contractor, was in charge of the work at both buildings. Story in the Craig Daily Press here.

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