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Friday Churn: Delaying the pain

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Leaders of Colorado’s largest school district unveiled a proposed 2012-13 budget today that includes no reductions in teachers, librarians or counselors – but they say they’re essentially delaying painful cuts for another year.

“We asked our community what they valued and it was teachers, along with music, arts and teacher librarians,” said Jeffco school board president Lesley Dahlkemper. “I’m pleased to say that we listened and have saved those jobs for at least one more year.”

But Dahlkemper, along with Superintendent Cindy Stevenson and teachers’ union president Kerrie Dallman, agreed the proposal basically delays major budget pain until 2013-14. In Dallman’s words, it “kicks the can down the road” another year.

In the meantime, district leaders said they want to hear from the community about support for a possible tax increase on the November ballot.

Today’s announcement at Lakewood High School follows a second employee summit, held last week, in which representatives of the school board, administration and employee groups met to hammer out a proposal. Jeffco is facing cuts of up to $60 million over the next two years.

Under the plan, Jeffco employees will continue a 3 percent pay cut imposed last year, which includes two furlough days. The district will also pull another $5 million from its reserves. And the popular Outdoor Lab schools will continue for another year with support from the Outdoor Lab Foundation.

“While we are able to save jobs and programs for one more year, that’s not the case for the 2013-14 school year,” Dahlkemper said. “We are looking at a loss of more than 600 jobs, including teachers, teacher librarians, music teachers and counselors – everything that our community holds dear.”

The board, which has final approval of the proposal, is expected to begin discussions in March.

Check back later today for more on this story.

Bob Schaffer, Republican chair of the State Board of Education, was among a parade of witnesses who testified Thursday before the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, which is considering updates to the No Child Left Behind law.

There were lots of witnesses, but Schaffer didn’t get a mention in this wrap-up post by our partners at EdWeek.

But Schaffer’s comments did get referenced in Twitter posts about the hearing. And the Department of Education issued a news release today summarizing Schaffer’s remarks. According to the release, “Chairman Schaffer talked about Colorado’s value of parental involvement, options for choice for families and the value of having local control for important decisions.”

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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