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Wednesday Churn: Yet another R2T

What’s churning:

Now school districts will get a shot at federal Race to the Top funds without having to go through their state governments.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced proposed rules for a new R2T iteration containing nearly $400 million, a program for which districts will apply directly.

The money is to be targeted on programs “to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career,” in the words of a DOE news release.

“We need to take classroom learning beyond a one-size-fits-all model and bring it into the 21st century,” Duncan said.

Under the proposed rules, the program would be limited to districts or groups of districts with enrollment of 2,500 or more students and with free and reduced price lunch eligibility rates of 40 percent or more. An interesting provision of the rules would require evaluation of superintendents and school board members in participating districts.

Some 43 Colorado districts individually meet the enrollment threshold, but only 21 of those meet the lunch requirement. Those include:

Aurora, Cañon City, the Charter School Institute, Commerce City, Delta County, Denver, Eagle County, Englewood, Fort Morgan, Fountain-Fort Carson, Garfield Re-2, Greeley, Harrison, Mapleton, Montezuma-Cortez, Montrose, Mesa 51, Pueblo City, Pueblo County, Westminster and Widefield.

Of course, other districts could be eligible if they filed combined applications.

Awards will range from $15 million to $25 million, depending on district size, and DOE expects to award 15 to 20 four-year grants. Preference also will be given “to applicants that form partnerships with public and private organizations to sustain their work and offer services that help meet students’ academic, social, and emotional needs, and enhance their ability to succeed.”

Blogger Alyson Klein at Education Week has a breakdown of the proposed rules and reactions to them.

The department is accepting comments on the proposed rules through June 8 and expects to release the application in July. Bids will be due in October, with awards to be announced by the end of the year. More information from the U.S. Department of Education website.

The number of children living with grandparents or other relatives has climbed 18 percent in the last decade, according to a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The study, titled “Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families,” estimates that 2.7 million American children, about 4 percent of the 17-and-under population, are cared for by relatives or close family friends. The estimate for Colorado is 32,000 children, about 3 percent of the population.

Children in kinship care often face greater emotional, legal and financial challenges than other kids, and the report urges legal changes and increased government funding to help such relatives raise such children.

Find a link to the full report on the foundation’s website.

Some 500 New Mexico students will be able to attend some Colorado colleges at resident rates under an agreement signed Tuesday by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and Jose Garcia, New Mexico secretary of higher education.

The reciprocal agreement offers the same deal with 500 Colorado students and is a three-year extension of an agreement that previously capped the exchange at 400 students per state.

Participating Colorado institutions are those closest to the border and include Adams State College, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado State University-Pueblo, Fort Lewis College, Lamar Community College, Otero Junior College, Pueblo Community College and Trinidad State Junior College.

All of New Mexico’s public colleges and universities participate in the agreement except the state medical school and the New Mexico Military Institute.

What’s on tap:

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg will be hopscotching around the district as the school year nears its end, visiting a newcomers’ kindergarten class at Place Bridge Academy on Wednesday and dropping in on classes at Merrill Middle School, Fairmont Dual Language Immersion Academy and Westerly Creek Elementary on Thursday.

The state Capital Construction Assistance Board meets from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Denver School of Science and Technology’s Green Valley Ranch high school, 4800 Telluride St., Building 2, Denver. The agenda includes a discussion of available funding for 2012-13 applicants.

The Adams 12-Five Star board has a meeting scheduled at 7 p.m. in the Training Center at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave., Thornton. The agenda includes a discussion of the proposed 2012-13 budget and a proposed amendment to Superintendent Chris Gdowski’s contract. RESCHEDULED DUE TO GRADUATION CEREMONIES.

A good read from elsewhere:

Uneasy relationship: Teachers unions and the new generation of education advocacy groups are still figuring out how to relate to each other, according to the final installment in a series by Education Week.

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

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