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Monday Churn: Tax campaign launched

What’s churning:

Sen. Rollie Heath has been talking about it for months, but today he formally launched the campaign for a ballot measure that would raise state taxes for five years to provide additional revenue for state schools and colleges.

Heath, a Boulder Democrat and one-time candidate for governor, first raised the idea in February, shortly after Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed cutting K-12 spending for next year by $332 million. The cut subsequently got whittled to about $228 million.

Since then Heath has been testing the waters, getting ballot language approved and has started to circulate petitions. His plan would raise state personal and corporate income tax rates to 5 percent from the current 4.63 percent. The state portion of sales taxes would go from 2.9 to 3 percent. The additional revenue could be used only for public schools and the state’s higher ed system and couldn’t be used to supplant existing funding. The measure sets 2011-12 spending for schools and colleges as a floor. Ballot measure text.

The higher rates would be in effect from 2012 to 2017 and are projected to raise more than $3 billion over that period.

Having survived his first legislative session, Hickenlooper already is thinking about next year. Speaking Friday during an event sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the governor mentioned several possible issues for 2012 – including looking into faculty tenure at state colleges and universities. More in this Denver Business Journal article.

Whether faculty tenure is an issue that needs to be dealt with is an interesting question, given that full-time tenured faculty are in the minority in Colorado.

Summary 2009 data compiled for EdNews by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education shows that the state had 12,984 full-time faculty members and 12,984 part-timers. Of full time faculty, 3,808 held tenure, 2,729 had tenure track status and 6,447 had neither. Of part-time faculty, 12,829 did not have tenure or weren’t on the tenure track.

The data did not break out faculty by type of institution. Generally, tenure part-time and non-tenured faculty are most common at community colleges.

In case you missed it, fewer than 500 students applied for vouchers in the Douglas County pilot program starting this fall so a lottery, tentatively scheduled for today, won’t be necessary.

Douglas County School District officials announced a total of 543 applications were received by Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline. But 48 applications were determined to be ineligible, leaving 495 eligible students.

According to the program requirements, applicants must be district residents currently enrolled in a district school for no less than one year to be deemed eligible.

Families will be notified this week which private schools they may attend. District officials said they’re still finalizing contracts with the 33 schools that have applied for the program.

Visit the district’s website or read EdNewsprior coverage to learn more.

What’s on tap:

TODAY

The Colorado State University Board of Governors meets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CSU Denver office, 410 17th St., suite 2440.

The Denver school board holds a work session starting at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. The agenda includes three new innovation school proposals.

Also in DPS, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez will meet with Superintendent Tom Boasberg and students at Martin Luther King Jr. Early College to talk about school-based efforts to reduce suspensions and to build a culture of student responsibility and positive behavior. It’s from 1 to 2 p.m. at the school, 19535 E. 46th Ave.

TUESDAY

The Douglas County school board meets at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. Agenda.

The St. Vrain school board holds a joint meeting with the Longmont City Council at the Longmont Public Library.

THURSDAY

The Denver board convenes a regular meeting starting at 2 p.m. at 900 Grant St., followed by a public comment session at 4:30 p.m. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Special treatment: Advocates say D.C. charter schools are excluding students with disabilities. Washington Post.

Adding up: New York state education officials are increasing the weight of student test scores in teacher evaluations. New York Times.
Record graduates: Metro State celebrated its largest-ever spring graduating class. Denver Post.

Note to readers: With the legislature adjourned and the school year ending, the flow of education news changes. Because of that, the Daily Churn is going on a flexible schedule. We’ll continue to post the Churn when there’s news you need to know, but it won’t necessarily appear every weekday.

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