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Thursday Churn: A new name for Metro

Updated 11 a.m. – Metro State trustees voted 6-3 this morning to recommend changing the school’s name to Metropolitan State University of Denver. The final decision is up to the legislature.

The new name includes a “coexistence agreement” with the private University of Denver that apparently will govern how the two institutions brand and present their names. A copy of the agreement wasn’t immediately available, but two trustees specifically mentioned the agreement as the reason for their no vote.

Other names that had been considered earlier were Denver Metropolitan State University, Denver State Metropolitan University and Metropolitan Denver State University.

Last year, Metro floated the name Denver State University but backed off after objections from DU.

The trustees have been working on the issue for two years, motivated by a felt need to “demonstrate the quality of the College’s degree; eliminate confusion that Metro State is a community college, when it is a four-year baccalaureate and graduate institution; clarify the College’s location in Denver; and make the name more concise,” in the words of a college statement last year.

College and university name changes have to be approved by the state legislature. Last year the legislature turned Mesa State College into Colorado Mesa University, and legislation is already pending this year to covert Adams State College to Adams State University. Western State College also is studying a possible new name (more information). The issue is listed as a discussion item for the trustees’ Feb. 10 meeting.

What’s churning:

Douglas County’s school board has scheduled a three-hour closed session tonight but a group of parents, armed with questions about the district budget, are demanding the meeting be open to the public.

Susan Meek, a Dougco parent and the district’s former communications director, said more than 50 parents signed a letter protesting the closure of tonight’s meeting and what they see as “a pattern of increasing closure” of board meetings. The letter was hand-delivered Wednesday to the district.

Meek and a number of other parents and community members have been closely questioning district finances, particularly the growth of reserves in recent years as board members approved cuts and raised fees for families, including charging to ride the school bus.

The board’s last community meeting drew a particularly raucous and critical crowd as teachers union president Brenda Smith presented a survey showing plummeting employee morale. See EdNews’ story and video.

Dougco leaders responded by posting a Q & A from that meeting and launching a superintendent’s blog and a “Budget Facts” webpage.

Meek said she and other parents plan to attend tonight’s 6 p.m. meeting at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock, to demand it be opened. Agenda

Meanwhile, in case you missed it, Dougco board members made news Wednesday when they announced their endorsement of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Jeffco school board members decided last week to move tonight’s meeting to a high school auditorium to accommodate what’s expected to be a large crowd for public comment.

The state’s largest school district is anticipating budget cuts of $50 million to $60 million over the next two years and many speakers are expected at tonight’s session to address proposed cuts from a citizens’ advisory group.

On Jan. 28, school board members held community budget sessions across the county. A video from those sessions is available on the district website.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Lakewood High School, 9700 West 8th Ave. Agenda

Denver school board members also are meeting tonight in a four-hour work session that’s expected to include their first detailed look at the district’s 2012-13 budget proposal.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg presented a thumbnail sketch of his budget plans Wednesday, and used that opportunity to launch a “community conversation” about a proposed tax hike to go before voters this fall.

Afterward, Boasberg spoke further about the challenges of selling an increase in school taxes so quickly on the heels of the failed statewide education funding measure Proposition 103, which voters turned down 2-to-1 on Nov. 1.

“These are very, very challenging economic times, and we’ve been through the worst recession in over half a century, and so it’s very clear that voters have a very high bar,” he admitted. “Voters will need to be convinced that any investment in the schools that we would propose would have to have a real benefit to schools and to the community.”

He’s buoyed by his belief that people are already voting for DPS – with their feet. “If you look now, with the very strong enrollment increases in DPS, over the last four years, an additional 9,000 students, then it is clear we are capturing more and more and more of Denver’s families,” said Boasberg. “I think that’s a very promising sign.”

Today’s meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant St. It is open to the public. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Greeley school board member Brett Reese, who made headlines for asking to bring a gun to board meetings, resigned two years into his four-year term on Wednesday, 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 continued this morning to show his photo and bio.

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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