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Briefs: Dougco’s CORA fees, CEA ads

Douglas County School District officials will stringently enforce fees for complying with requests under the Colorado Open Records Act, following a district controversy over the release of emails.

Randy Barber, the district’s spokesman, sent emails this morning to individuals and agencies – including Education News Colorado – that have filed at least two CORA requests in the past year.

“We want you to be aware that beginning Monday, October 1, the Douglas County School District will strictly enforce its published CORA Fees,” he wrote, listing the following prices:

Staff time to comply with request – no charge for first hour, $20 per additional hour. Copies – 25 cents per page. DVD or CD – 50 cents per disc.

State law allows the custodians of public records to charge fees for filling CORA request but does not require them to do so. Fee schedules vary. For example, the secretary of state’s office provides up to 15 pages of copies free, then 25 cents per page after that for the public and 12 cents per page for the press.

CORA requests and associated costs became a hot-button issue in Douglas County after a group called Parent Led Reform sought and received emails sent by 19 parents or community members via the district’s communications system. At least some of the individuals whose emails were requested have been critical of the Dougco school board, which Parent Led Reform supports.

In addition, the district has received numerous CORA requests from those involved in a lawsuit against Dougco’s pilot voucher program, now being appealed.

for more information, read the stories Release of school emails triggers outrage and School district fields dozens of records requests in 2012 from Our Colorado News.

→ The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, has purchased air time during the presidential debates to run ads touting public school teachers.

The 30-second spots feature 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist David Oliver and Wende Curtis, owner of the Comedy Works clubs. “Each relays how a Colorado teacher/CEA member played a key role in their life success,” according to a CEA news release issued today.

The release doesn’t disclose how much the CEA to run the ads on broadcast television in Colorado Springs, Denver and Grand Junction before and during the debates, though it does call the purchase “one of the broadest made by CEA in recent years.”

The ads already have been running on cable stations in Colorado and can be seen on the CEA’s YouTube channel.

→ Aurora’s tax proposal is going high tech. Yard signs for the district’s proposed $15 million operating increase are believed to be the first to utilize Quick Response or QR codes.

John Britz, the veteran political consultant and campaign manager for Aurora Citizens for Excellent Schools, the committee backing the ballot measure, said “QR’s have been utilized on campaign brochures and direct mail for a couple of years now, but never on a yard sign as far back as I can remember.”

The technology means a person who sees a sign “can simply stop for a moment, pull out your smart phone and scan the code off our yard sign. Our QR code takes you directly to our website homepage where they can volunteer for campaign activities, order a yard sign or even make a contribution to our campaign,” said committee chair Amy Prince, a former Aurora school board member.

Learn more in today’s news release from the Aurora Committee for Excellent Schools.

→ The Independence Institute, the Denver-based free market think tank, is challenging the idea that several of the state’s school districts seeking tax increases are strapped for cash.

Ben DeGrow
Ben DeGrow
Nicholas Garcia

A report titled “Colorado K-12 Tax Hikes Challenged” by senior policy analyst Ben DeGrow shows four of the five largest school districts with tax proposals on the ballot increased per-student tax revenues from 2005-06 to 2010-11, according to a news release.

All five agencies have fared significantly better than household incomes in the counties they cover, DeGrow says.

“As much as school district revenues have slowed from the recent recession, most families around them have been hit even harder,” he said.

Read the news release and see the report.

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