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This week’s teaching & learning tidbits

Latest school budget news

School cuts 101: Gov. Hickenlooper’s plan

LOVELAND – One hundred days into his first term, Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the passage of a balanced budget for next year as his most significant accomplishment to date. While his proposal was widely praised by Republicans eager to make significant cuts, Democrats reacted with horror to Hickenlooper’s initial proposed cut of $332 million to K-12 schools. Check out this FOX31 report, which is part of a series explaining Colorado’s school budget crisis.


D-12 plans to seek tax increase to help with budget woes

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 is planning to ask voters for around $2 million in a mill levy override in November to help offset major budget cuts. Even if a measure passes, the district must cut 15  positions, most of them teachers, in 2011-2012. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Jeffco schools face $40 million in budget cuts

The impact of the state budget cuts on education funding are quite evident in the state’s largest school district.  Jefferson County Schools has about 12,000 employees and nearly 86,000 students, and district leaders say everyone will feel the hit.  The district has to cut nearly $40 million from next year’s budget. Read the KWGN story.

More school news

Summer reading programs at Denver libraries

Studies repeatedly show that children who do not read during the summer demonstrate a significant loss in reading skills, while students who read just five to six books throughout these months perform better during the following school year. Denver Public Library’s (DPL) Summer of Reading Program is a fun way to incorporate reading and related activities into summer family time to help avoid “summer learning loss,” a problem that affects kids of all ages and income levels.

Denver Public Library has offered summer reading programs for local residents over 80 years. Summer of Reading is one of the Denver Public Library’s most important programs for children and teens and is offered from May through August annually at the Denver Central Library, the Library’s 23 branch locations and through two bookmobiles. Over the past six years, participation has nearly doubled – from 16,792 in 2004 to 31,265 in 2010.

Find more information at www.denverlibrary.org and at the library branches. Or call 720-865-0975.

Two families choose different paths to academic excellence

Summers for eighth-grader Jade Larriva-Latt are filled with soccer and backpacking, art galleries and museums, library volunteer work and sleep-away camp. There is no summer school, no tutoring. For 10th-grader Derek Lee, summer is the time to sprint ahead in the ferocious race to the academic top. Read more in the Los Angeles Times.

Dougco school voucher program a hit

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – Douglas County’s school voucher program will likely go to a lottery system to handle high demand. 7NEWS has learned the state’s first-ever voucher program is ahead of schedule, taking in nearly 300 applicants from kindergarten through high school in two days for 500 available scholarships. Read more on 7NEWS.

Westminster school has no grades, no grade levels

WESTMINSTER – An elementary school in Westminster is offering a different approach to education. At Hodgkins Elementary School, there are no grade levels and no grades. Students are not grouped by age, but rather by what they know. Check out 7NEWS for more information.

Boulder Prep creates American Indian focus program

Mason McCart was failing after two years at Boulder High. Faced with a choice of trying an alternative school or going to live with relatives in another state, he took a chance on Boulder Preparatory High School, an alternative charter in Gunbarrel. Along with a better academic experience, he said, the school has taught him about his Native American heritage and Plains Apache tribe. Read more in the Daily Camera.

iPads to be handed out with textbooks in Manitou schools

Textbooks soon will be joined by iPads as standard issue in Manitou Springs middle and high schools. The effort to provide tablet computers to every student in fifth grade through high school is a recognition by teachers and administrators that today’s students live in a digital world and are coming to school well-versed in technology. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

D-2’s work with English-language programs earns award

Carol Pollard is watching a first grader at Oak Creek Elementary School write a sentence about a flamingo. “What are you writing?” she asks. “Estan Comiendo,” he answers. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Charter school students wowed by gift of netbooks

Eight-year-old Anthony Brown and Adrian Martinez, 16, were test driving a fancy netbook, solving a problem about temperature and friction for a bunch of dignitaries visiting Pikes Peak Prep charter school this week. Read more in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Plans for online school move forward

Staying in step with modern trends has been a big point of emphasis this year for Trinidad’s schools. A new online school is a key part of keeping pace with those trends, and the project took another step toward being accomplished Tuesday. The Board of Education of Trinidad School District #1 approved the second reading of a proposed resolution establishing an online school within the district next year. Read more in the Trinidad Times.

Book Trust highlights efforts in DPS to boost literacy

Book Trust, Denver Public Schools and Lt. Governor Joe Garcia teamed up Tuesday to showcase critical services being offered to DPS by Book Trust, a non-profit dedicated to building the early literacy skills of children from low-income households. Castro Elementary in southwest Denver has been working with Book Trust since 2007, and since that time, students have benefited from the hundreds of books donated to classrooms and low-income families.

If current trends hold true, 6.6 million low-income children in the birth to age 8 group are at increased risk of failing to graduate from high school on time because they won’t be able to meet NAEP’s proficient reading level by the end of third-grade. Teaming up with Book Trust to expand the program to more schools will help DPS break this cycle for Denver students.

Please contact Amy Friedman, Executive Director of Book Trust at 303-968-5036 for more information.

DSST gaining national attention

DENVER – Public Charter schools say they are feeling the pinch of state budget cuts in the same way that traditional public schools are.  Both kinds of schools are funded by the state, and per pupil funding is being slashed. But there is one local charter school that is still getting national attention despite budget cuts. Check out FOX31.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.