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Monday Churn: CU loses gun case

Updated 9 a.m. – A unanimous Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a state law on carrying of concealed weapons does apply to the University of Colorado and that the university can’t ban the carrying of such weapons.

A university ban was challenged by a group named Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The university argued that the statewide law didn’t apply to it, an interpretation rejected earlier by the Colorado Court of Appeals and by the high court in the opinion issued today.

The student group also appealed CU’s ban on constitutional grounds. The court didn’t rule on that issue, determining that the concealed-carry law was sufficient to govern CU.

Republican legislators are pushing House Bill 12-1092, which would allow people otherwise entitled to own guns to carry then concealed without obtaining a separate concealed weapon permit. That bill, if passed, would apply to college campuses but not allowing carrying of weapons on school grounds. The measure is pending in the House.

Read the opinion here, and get background in this EdNews story.

What’s churning:

The full legislature may make the final decision on each year’s state budget, but lawmakers accept the vast majority of recommendations made by the six-member Joint Budget Committee.

On the committee’s agenda for today are three important decisions about education funding: How much base funding to provide to school districts in 2012-13, the amount of support for state colleges and universities next year and whether to give the Department of Education money to start developing a new state testing system.

The panel considered the first two issues last week but put off decisions.

Despite committee hand-wringing, the panel doesn’t really have much room to maneuver on K-12 and higher ed funding.

Factors beyond in the JBC are in play with school finance, like the annual school finance act (a separate bill from the main state budget) and the simmering political question of whether to continue suspension of a senior citizen property tax break.

Without going into the brain-freezing details, the bottom line for school districts is that the best they can expect is the same amount of money in 2012-13 as this year. That, of course, will be an effective cut, because enrollment is expected to grow statewide.

For state colleges and universities, a $30 million cut in state aid (down to about $489 million) is expected. That’s what the executive branch recommended, and that probably won’t change no matter how much the JBC agonizes over the details of how to make the reduction.

Perhaps more interesting is the question of the Department of Education’s request for $25.9 million to build a new state testing system, a request not supported by the Hickenlooper administration. Look for the committee to perhaps support spending of about $7 million to pay for development of tests in subjects that won’t be included in multi-state tests expected to be available in 2015.

All three issues are on today’s committee agenda. We’ll see if it makes a decision or puts things off for a few more days. Reaching agreement is sometimes tough for the panel, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.

What’s on tap:

Check this week’s full legislative calendar, as of March 2.

TODAY

Five state education groups are convening to help school districts as they implement Colorado’s landmark educator effectiveness law. Titled “Colorado Educator Effectiveness Summit: 191 to Action,” the one-day event runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster. The groups are the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Department of Education, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Legacy Foundation.

Denver Public Schools’ board finance and audit committee meets from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 900 Grant St. Agenda items include a $1.6 million contract with Generation Schools Network for turnaround work at West High School, one of Colorado’s lowest-performing high schools. The contract is for five years beginning with 2012-13.

TUESDAY

The new Colorado Collaborative for Girls in STEM holds its first information meeting from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Skyline High School, 600 E. Mountain Valley Ave. in Longmont. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the effort is intended to enable collaboration within the public and private sectors to bring more underserved girls and women into STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – fields. Learn more.

Douglas County school board members meet at 5 p.m. and recess into closed session for two hours, reconvening in public at 7 p.m. at 620 Wilcox St. Agenda items include a presentation by principals about the proposal changing high school schedules for 2012-13, including requiring teachers to teach an additional class, and the second quarter 2011-12 financial report.

WEDNESDAY

The State Board of Education meets starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 201 E. Colfax Ave. Agenda items include a charter school appeal involving Life Skills High School v. DPS, several DPS innovation applications and a briefing on the proposed rules for teacher evaluation appeals under Senate Bill 10-191. Agenda

Adams 12 Five Star school board members meet at 5:15 p.m. for a public work session and then begin their regular meeting at 7 p.m. at 1500 E. 128th Ave. Agenda items include public comment and decisions on possible dismissal of two teachers.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Principal turnover: A lot of education reform initiatives are based on the idea of principals as instructional leaders, motivating and monitoring their teachers to improve student achievement. A new study by the Rand Corp. finds that about 20 percent of new principals within a year or two, leaving behind a school that generally continues on a downward academic slide. Our partners at EdWeek have the story.

Jobs and education mismatch: If you haven’t read this yet, this March 1 New York Times story takes a look at colleges cutting classes in fields highly sought after by employers in attempts to save money. Among the examples is Colorado’s own Fort Lewis College, which has eliminated its computer science major. The story provides an overview of “the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education.”

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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