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Wednesday Churn: Dougco for Mitt

UpdatedMembers of the Douglas County school board are backing the candidacy of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, according to a news release sent today by Romney’s press office.

“I’m truly grateful to earn the support of the members of the Douglas County Board of Education for my education reform agenda,” Romney states in the release. “They share my vision of taking control of our children’s curriculum out of the hands of the federal government. Our kids are served best when these crucial decisions are made at the local level.”

Randy Barber, spokesman for the Douglas County School District, said the board members did not publicly vote on supporting Romney and are not supporting him in their official capacity. Rather, all seven members are supporting him as private individuals.

“We are very proud to be supporting Mitt Romney,” board president John Carson states in the release, which lists the names and board titles of all seven members. “He is committed to making our education system more effective by reducing needless federal intrusion, empowering local officials, and promoting choice and competition.”

It is unusual for a local school board to weigh in on a national political race. However, Douglas County board members have drawn national attention for their voucher pilot plan, which was halted by a Denver judge and is now being appealed. In addition, the county Republican Party openly endorsed board members in board races in 2009 and 2011.

For more on Romney’s positions on education, as well as those of other Republican contenders, see this story by our partners at Education Week.

Greeley School Board Member Brett Reese, who sparked headlines after asking to carry a gun to board meetings, has resigned two years into his four-year term, according to stories in the Greeley Tribune and the Greeley Gazette, an online news site. His full resignation letter is on the Gazette site.

Reese has been controversial since his election in November 2009, as noted in this EdNews‘ story, but he became the topic of heated debate after he broadcast statements critical of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on his radio station shortly before the King national holiday in 2011 and then asked to carry a gun to board meetings to protect himself from critics.

In May, Reese was censured by his fellow board members following allegations that he inappropriately touched a teacher and appeared intoxicated at a board meeting – allegations he denies. The Tribune reports he has missed nearly a quarter of board meetings since he was elected.

Reese’s term was set to expire in 2013, according to the district website, which continues to show his photo and bio.

What’s churning:

The University of Colorado Regents today will get their first look at possible hikes in student fees for the 2012-13 school year.

The regents, meeting at CU’s Colorado Springs campus, won’t vote on tuition and fees until April, but this month’s agenda includes a list of possible fee hikes for next year. The Boulder student activities fee could rise “not more” than 5 percent while the fee at the Denver campus could rise 9.6 percent. Various room and board fees might rise at rates around 4 percent. (See full list.)

Proposed resident tuition rates that could top 15 percent were discussed at the regents’ January meeting and raised some eyebrows (see Boulder Daily Camera story), and members of Occupy CU-Boulder held a teach-in on campus Tuesday to protest rising tuition.

All state colleges and universities have relied on tuition and fee hikes to backfill declining state tax support in recent years. (See the Department of Higher Education’s most recent tuition and fees report.)

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg, joined by teachers and parents, will preview the proposed 2012-13 budget today in a media briefing at Grant Middle School, 1751 S. Washington St. An advisory from the school district states that funding to schools will increase “despite further anticipated state cuts” and that Boasberg will also discuss “potential funding for school-based proposals to lengthen the school day and a proposed district funding increase to support English language learners.”

EdNews reported earlier this week that the district is considering adding one hour to the school day for up to 14 schools this fall, and the teachers’ union Tuesday filed a grievance over the proposal. That extension to the schedule would require added funding, which would need approval from the DPS school board. The board is to have its first presentation on next year’s at its session scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Agenda

Onward and upward for Mesa: First the school got approval to offer doctorates, then it got upgraded to university status and now Colorado Mesa University is getting another accoutrement of big-time status – a marching band. “As Colorado Mesa University transitions into a new era of growth and expansion, the time is ripe to begin another new tradition – the CMU Marching Band,” said President Tim Foster in a statement. The band is expected to be fully up and marching in time for the 2013 football season.

Under Foster, a former legislator and Department of Higher Education chief, Mesa has increasingly charted its own path. Foster has been a vocal advocate of maximum institutional flexibility and a critic of central state regulation of higher education.

What’s on tap:

Adams 12-Five Star school board members meet today at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. There’s a work session at 5:15 p.m. and regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Agenda

The Metro State trustees open two days of committee sessions today and a full board meeting Thursday. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Thompson School District is studying possible adjustments to its school year calendar, the Loveland Herald reports, but a committee at least isn’t siding with those who favored starting after Labor Day.

Trinidad School District is weighing budget and personnel cuts in light of the district’s shortage in cash reserves. According to the Trinidad Times, an independent financial consultant says the district only has enough money in reserves to cover one month’s operating expenses.

Tennessee, New York and many other states are working to implement new approaches to measuring educator effectiveness, The Christian Science Monitor reports, and the workload for principals has increased dramatically.

The Colorado Mountain College board of trustees postponed until March a decision regarding possible increases in student tuition and fees for the 2012-13 school year, according to the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. The board also asked to review more detailed information about a proposed 3 percent increase in CMC’s current $52 million operating budget for 2012-13.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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