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Thursday Churn: SBE names two

Updated 4:40 p.m.The State Board of Education this afternoon named Aurora Superintendent John Barry and current interim Commissioner Robert Hammond as finalists for commissioner of education.

Read the Colorado Department of Education news release and read the bios for Hammond and for Barry. Check back later today for more on this developing story.

Updated 11:45 a.m.The House this morning gave preliminary approval to an amended version of Senate Bill 11-230, the 2011-12 school finance bill. The intent of the revised bill would cut K-12 spending by $160 million instead of the $250 million approved by the Senate.

The plan is based on assumptions about the amount of surplus revenue available when the current state fiscal year ends on June 30. And, even if those assumptions are borne out, most of the money wouldn’t go to districts until early next year.

Under the successful floor amendment proposed by Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs and chair of the House Education Committee, $22.5 million would be taken from the State Education Fund and added to K-12 support when the 2011-12 budget year starts July 1.

That would make the maximum 2011-12 cut $227.5 million. Only if the excess revenues equal or exceed $67.5 million, and only if districts’ growth in enrollment and at-risk students and loss in local revenues equal or exceed that amount, will the 2011-12 cut be fully reduced to $160 million.

The plan assumes that an additional $67.5 million in surplus revenue will be available when the 2010-11 fiscal year ends. That would be formally earmarked for education after the state closes its books on Sept. 30 and then distributed to districts early next year based on enrollment and at-risk student numbers determined by the Oct. 1 student count and on the local property tax valuations that are made in December.

The deal was proposed and brokered by Massey in long negotiations involving legislative leadership in both houses and the Hickenlooper administration.

The changes in SB 11-230 will have to be accepted by the Senate after final House passage, but Senate assent won’t be a problem.

The House action represents an important step in the school finance debate that started in February when Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed a $322 million cut in total program funding for 2011-12.

What’s churning:

The arbitrary interval of 100 days has become a commonplace (even tiresome) measure for judging a new presidential or gubernatorial administration. In keeping with that tradition, John Hickenlooper has called a 9 a.m. news conference in the Capitol’s west foyer to discuss his first 100 days as Colorado’s chief executive.

EdNews leafed through its notebooks for the last three months and came up with these actions Hickenlooper has taken on education:

• He chose Joe Garcia, president of Colorado State University-Pueblo as his running mate and when they took office announced Garcia also would be director of the Department of Higher Education.

• In January, he announced creation of an Education Leadership Council (a variation on something Gov. Bill Ritter did), but members haven’t yet been named nor the group convened.

• In February, Hickenlooper proposed a $332 million cut in K-12 spending, a number the legislature has reduced to $250 million and is seeking to shave even more. The governor proposed cutting higher education a bit more than Ritter proposed, and lawmakers have gone along with Hickenlooper’s plan.

• Since he started campaigning last year, Hickenlooper repeatedly has said voters have “no appetite” in the current economy for tax increases to support education.

• In March, the governor joined education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to urge reform of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

• The administration has been heavily involved in brokering the negotiations around Senate Bill 11-052, the higher education performance-funding proposal, and reportedly is active in the yet-to-be-introduced bill to cut back on CSAP testing.

Hickenlooper signed several bills Wednesday, including three of interest to education:

  • House Bill 11-1069 – Minimum requirements for physical activity in elementary schools
  • House Bill 11-1126 – Requiring more parent notification about school improvement plans
  • House Bill 11-1169 – Allowing greater sharing of information about possible threats between college police departments and administrators

The governor has signed every education bill sent to him so far this session.

What’s on tap:

The Metro State trustees are holding a special meeting from 7:30 to 9 a.m. for further discussions of the college’s proposed name change. The meeting will be in room 329 of the Tivoli Student Union. Agenda

The State Board of Education meets from 4:15 to 4:30 p.m. to make some sort of announcement about the search for a new education commissioner.

The Jefferson County school board holds a special meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive, Building. 27, Golden. The agenda includes a report on the school board’s community budget forums, held last Saturday.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Autistic students: The demand for resources to teach autistic children far outstrips the supply. PBS.
Parting shot: Mayoral candidates debate support of Far Northeast Denver turnaround plans – after a forum. Denver Post.

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