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Wednesday Churn: Focus on principals

Updated: U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, today introduced a bill to create a national School Leadership Academy and other measures aimed at bolstering the preparation of principals in turning around the country’s lowest-performing schools.

The academy created by the Lead Act would develop a leadership training program and establish a framework for local School Leadership Centers of Excellence, where principals across the country could get training and support as they seek to transform some of the 2,000 U.S. high schools that produce more than half of the country’s dropouts.

“We need to train and support principals to target their talents where they are needed most – in our lowest-performing schools,” Bennet, a former Denver Public Schools superintendent, said in a news release.

The local centers would be run by partnerships between nonprofits, institutions of higher education and state or local education agencies. At least one would specialize in training principals to serve rural areas.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, is hosting a town hall meeting tonight at Montbello High School on S.B. 126, also known as the ASSET bill, which would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Colorado colleges and universities. Undocumented students would not be eligible for state need-based scholarships or for state College Opportunity Fund stipends, meaning they’d actually be paying higher tuition than other resident students.

Johnston, a prime sponsor of the bill, said in an emailed notice about the town hall meeting that state lawmakers will be voting Friday on the Senate floor and that “we have the votes to get it passed.” The bill faces a less certain future at its next stop, the Republican-controlled House. See background on the bill and who supports it. Johnston told EdNews that talks are continuing with House lawmakers who are “on the fence.”

Tonight’s town hall starts at 6 p.m. in the Montbello High School library, 5000 Crown Blvd. Spanish translation will be available.

Finally, Aurora school board members voted last night against renewing the contracts of two Hinkley High School teachers despite protests by students and others. The Aurora Sentinel has the story.


What’s churning:

The State Board of Education has two schizophrenic days ahead of it, with about seven hours of public sessions for a variety of business and some 15 hours of closed sessions to interview candidates for commissioner of education.

Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, and members have been tight-lipped about the search process, with Shaffer even declining to say how many people are being interviewed. One official from another part of state government said, “There’s a very tight lid on.”

Schaffer has said he’s pleased with the quality of the applicants.

There’s been speculation that the board is interviewing half a dozen candidates, which would fit in with the 15 or so hours the board has set aside, assuming about two hours per candidate.

The state open meetings law allows closed executive sessions for such interviews, although the law requires to board to make public the names of “finalists” 14 days before a decision is made.

The board’s key public event will come Wednesday morning with presentation of the recommendations of the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, which has been toiling for a year on proposals for implementing Senate Bill 10-191, the educator effectiveness law.

See our in-depth preview for a look at what the council will propose

Other items on the board’s agenda include a charter school appeal and the proposed rule to require school districts to report to parents whenever a district employee is arrest. Agenda

Just because the Senate has passed a 2011-12 budget package that includes a $250 million slice out of school funding doesn’t mean some lawmakers aren’t trying to shrink that cut. At least three efforts are in the works. Story

What’s on tap:

Denver elections officials are expected this afternoon to release their finding on whether critics of Denver Public Schools board president Nate Easley submitted at least 5,363 signatures on March 29 – or the minimum needed to trigger a recall election. If recall backers are found to have enough valid signatures, then anyone wishing to challenge the signatures’ legitimacy has 15 calendar days in which to do so. Should an adequate number of signatures pass scrutiny, elections officials expect a special election by all-mail ballot would likely be set for the final week of June.

The St. Vrain Valley board meets at 7 p.m., at the Educational Services Center, 395 South Pratt Parkway in Longmont.

Good reads from elsewhere:

On leave: Roberta Selleck, the superintendent of Adams 50 Westminster who has implemented dramatic reform, is on emergency family leave – and up for a job in Florida. The Denver Post.

Got milk?: The controversy over chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The Washington Post.