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This week's teaching & learning tidbits

Budget, budget, budget

Jeffco schools

The budget problems for students in Jefferson County have gotten worse. Last month Jeffco Public Schools estimated they would lose $37 million with the cuts to education announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Now the district says it will lose nearly $40 million in funding. On Tuesday night parents and teachers were at a meeting in Lakewood where business and political leaders addressed the economic and educational realities for Jefferson County. Watch this CBS4 report.

Adams 12 Five Star

Surveys of parents, teachers and community members in the Adams 12 Five Star District show distinct differences in support for raising local and state taxes to offset $30 million in budget cuts in 2011-12. But all three groups were more favorable on a local tax increase than a statewide hike.

Among more than 4,400 community members – mostly parents – surveyed in the state’s fifth-largest school district, 54 percent said they would support a local increase compared to 48 percent for a statewide increase. A survey of more than 600 parents alone put their support at 46 percent for a local increase, though another 26 percent said they would “somewhat” support it.

Those numbers spike when the question is put to more than 1,500 certified staff members, mostly teachers – 85 percent would support a local tax increase and 77 percent would support a statewide hike. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Greeley Schools

Parents, students, district staff members, and the community at large are invited to ask questions and gather information regarding the district’s revenues, expenditures, and budget plans for 2011-12 during a series of Wednesday afternoon open houses.

These discussion sessions will be 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday afternoon at the District 6 Administration Building, 1025 Ninth Ave., beginning March 16 and continuing through April 27. Community members are welcome to attend any or all of the open houses.

The sessions will have a casual format, with no formal presentations or agenda. Community members will be able to have conversations with the district’s key financial staff members. Questions or comments regarding the district’s revenues and expenditures will be welcome, as will suggestions for balancing the district’s 2011-12 budget.

Community members also can access a variety of financial information on the district’s website,, in the “Money Matters” section. Further discussion and questions also are welcome in the “Budget for 2011-12” discussion thread at

Cherry Creek

The Cherry Creek School District recently released estimated budget cuts for the upcoming school year, and as expected, the news is not particularly good.

The school district, the fourth largest in the state, is expecting a $21 million shortfall in the 2011-12 operating budget. Much of the proposed cuts are a direct result of decreased funding at the state level, according to officials. Read more in Your Hub.

Students hone CSAP skills

With the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP, testing dates fast approaching, PSD schools are finding new ways to get students motivated and prepared. For the PSD Online Academy, this will be the second year students will take CSAP. Jordan Wheeler, a freshman at the online academy, took the CSAP at Liberty Common School last year. He said preparing for the tests is the same no matter the venue. Read more in the Coloradoan.

How Colorado builds a “Whatever it Takes” community

Participate in the culminating event of the P-20 Speaker Series whose year-long theme has been wrap-around services that can optimize education experiences for students. Panelists will discuss their own education experiences in the context of their professional connections to the education system in Colorado. They will also discuss the multitude of factors that are necessary to make a child’s educational experience in P-12 and higher education successful. Audience members will have the opportunity to dialogue about how we move the Colorado education system forward keeping in mind the myriad of factors that must be considered to support each child.

Panelists Include: Nate Easley, PhD, deputy director, Denver Scholarship Foundation; Maria Guajardo, PhD, executive director, Mayor’s Office of Education and Children; and Miguel In Suk Lovato, grants program officer, Daniels Fund. It will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, at the Lawrence Street Center, in the second floor atrium, 1380 Lawrence Street, Denver.

The event is free and open to the public.

Extraordinary gains, little investigation

A USA Today analysis of state test scores raises questions about extraordinary gains at nearly 70 schools between 2003 and 2009, but Colorado education officials do little to investigate such steep increases. That may change as the state prepares to link growth in test scores to teacher and principal evaluations. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Most schools could face ‘failing’ label under No Child Left Behind, Duncan says

More than three-quarters of the nation’s public schools could soon be labeled “failing” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Obama administration said Wednesday as it increased efforts to revamp the signature education initiative of President George W. Bush. Read more in the Washington Post.

Justice High School thrives in Lafayette

When area high school and middle school counselors call Justice High School co-principal Jeremy Jimenez to ask if he has

room for “another knucklehead,” he never declines. Read more in the Daily Camera.

New private school focuses on Asperger’s

Bridge Schools leaders knew the school needed a new focus, with enrollment declines making it impossible to keep the private Boulder middle and high school going. Read more in the Daily Camera.

CDE launches new educator effectiveness website

The Educator Effectiveness Office at CDE has launched a website devoted to the state’s efforts to attract, prepare and support effective educators. The new site provides information and resources designed to support educators throughout their career.

The site includes information regarding the state’s recruitment, preparation, licensure, induction, evaluation and professional development activities. Information on statewide councils and commissions is also available.

Of particular interest, the Evaluation and Support page provides the latest information on implementation of the state’s new educator evaluation system pursuant to Senate Bill 10-191. A companion to this web page, the State Council for Educator Effectiveness page contains current information on the state council’s meetings and working documents.

APS Online High School gets financial boost from feds

An Aurora Public Schools program that offers online learning tools for at-risk high school students will receive extra funding from the Federal Communications Commission next year.

The Aurora Public Schools Online High School is one of 20 schools and libraries nationwide that will get about $9 million in funding for the 2011-12 school year through the FCC’s “Learning On-The-Go” initiative. The initiative rewards programs that use innovative tools and models to connect students with online learning. Read more in the Aurora Sentinel.

State denies Lotus charter school

The Colorado Board of Education on Wednesday upheld the St. Vrain Valley School District’s denial of a charter for Lotus School of Excellence.

Organizers of the Lotus School, which has a kindergarten-through-11th-grade school in Aurora, wanted to open a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school in Longmont. Citing an unrealistic budget and a lack of community support, the St. Vrain Board of Education unanimously denied the request Dec. 8. Read more in the Longmont Times-Call.

DPS touts decline in dropout rate

As celebrations go, it was low-key. Denver Public Schools chose an intimate setting Tuesday to trumpet its success in reducing the district’s grade 7-through-12 dropout rate, which declined in 2009-2010 to 6.4 percent.

The previous year, it stood at 7.4 percent. The district is also touting its 42 percent decrease in dropout rate over the past five years. In the 2005-06 school year, the dropout rate stood at a discouraging 11.1 percent. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

Elizabeth charter school students go digital with iPad2

Legacy Academy in Elizabeth will become Colorado’s first iSchool. Under the Apple based program, every student at the K-8 charter school will be provided an iPad2 and more wireless bandwidth than the whole town of Castle Rock. Watch this KWGN report.

Dougco voucher vote expected Tuesday

Douglas County school board members appear poised next week to approve the state’s first district-driven voucher program, which would launch this fall with up to 500 students. Read more in EdNews Colorado.

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