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Monday Churn: Looking for cash

What’s churning:

It’s that time again. If you’re at all active in education policy, politics or civic affairs in general, you’re probably on somebody’s list for political contributions. For instance, circulating recently was an email from the Democrats for Education Reform Small Donor Committee, inviting potential donors to a Tuesday event with Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia as the featured guest.

That made EdNews curious about the size of various committees’ war chests on the eve of the main 2012 campaign season. (This isn’t an election year for school boards, but legislative races will be hot as Democrats and Republicans vie for control of the Capitol.)

Here’s what a quick run through the Department of State’s database told us about the bank accounts of some education-related political committees, as of reporting deadlines earlier this month:

  • Democrats for Education Reform, $7,831.45
  • Democrats for Education Reform Small Donor Committee, $1,235.39 (Looks like that Garcia fundraiser could be helpful.)
  • Stand for Children Political Committee, $37,761
  • Stand for Children Small Donor Committee, $428.67
  • Public Education Committee, $589,759.04 (This is one of the main campaign committees affiliated with the Colorado Education Association.)
  • Educators for Public Education, $87,093.76 (This is another CEA affiliate.)
  • Jefferson County Education Association Small Donor Committee, $100,308.93
  • AFT of Colorado Small Donor Committee, $52,143.20

Union affiliated campaign committees are expected to be significant backers of Democratic legislative candidates this year – they always are. Partisan control of the legislature could be up for grabs this year. Republicans currently have a one-seat majority in the House, and Democrats control the Senate by a margin of five.

Because of term limits, redistricting and retirements, more than a third of the 100 lawmakers could be new when the gavel falls to open the 2013 session in January.

Several districts around the state are expected to seek voter approval for bond issues and/or tax overrides for additional operating dollars this fall. We won’t know the full list until July 27, the deadline for districts to decide.

But two major districts already have made the call. Cherry Creek is seeking voter approval for a $125 million bond and a $25 million override, and Jefferson County is asking for a $99 million bond and a $39 million override.

Citizens for Cherry Creek Schools, which is backing that district’s effort, has $44,868.03 in the bank. Citizens for Jeffco Schools, main supporter of the campaign in the state’s largest district, reported $12,263.81 on hand.

In case you hadn’t noticed (and you probably didn’t), the primary election is Tuesday, June 26.

There’s really nothing on the ballot of interest to education, except the Republican contest for an at-large seat on the CU Board of Regents. Judicial accountability activist Matt Arnold is facing off against Brian Davidson, a doctor at CU’s Anschutz Medical Center.

The campaign has been characterized by various missteps on Arnold’s part. The Colorado Statesman has a detailed look at the race. The contest also has been chronicled by veteran Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels (read her most recent article here).

The winner will face incumbent Democratic Regent Stephen Ludwig, who narrowly defeated Davidson in 2006 in a race that had three minor-party candidates. Regent contests in districts 3, 5 and 7 also will be on the November ballot.

There are no primaries this year for State Board of Education. In November Democratic incumbent Angelika Schroeder faces Republican Ann Fattor of Black Hawk in the newly mapped 2nd District. Republican Pamela Mazanec of Larkspur is unopposed the significantly redrawn 4th District.

What’s on tap:

School districts face a June 30 deadline to adopt their budgets for the 2012-13 school year, so budget votes are on the agenda for many school boards this week and next. See this story for details on the budget situation for next year.

TODAY

The Denver school board has a work session scheduled for 4:30 and district headquarters, 900 Grant St.

The Cherry Creek school board meets at 7 p.m. at Liberty Middle School, 21500 E. Dry Creek Road in Aurora. The budget is on the agenda.

TUESDAY

The Boulder Valley board has a 4:30 p.m. special executive session scheduled to discuss personnel matters. The meeting’s at district offices at 6500 Arapahoe in Boulder.

The Douglas County board meets at 5 p.m. at 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock.

The budget is on the agenda for the 6 p.m. Aurora board meeting at the Professional Learning and 
Conference Center,
15771 E. 1st Ave.

WEDNESDAY

Executive branch and legislative economists present their quarterly revenue forecasts to the Joint Budget Committee and other lawmakers at 9:30 a.m. The meeting will be in either the JBC hearing room or room LSB-A. Both are in the Legislative Services Building at 200 E. 14th Ave.

The University of Colorado Regents open two days of meetings starting at 11 a.m. at the University Center on the Colorado Springs campus. Among the agenda items are President Bruce Benson’s salary for next year and presentation on the higher education master plan process by Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia. Agenda

Metro State’s controversial new tuition rate for undocumented students will be on the agenda at a 2:30 p.m. meeting of the JBC, college officials and members of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The session is set for the JBC hearing room.

The Adams 12-Five Start board meets at 7 p.m. in the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton. The budget’s on the agenda.

THURSDAY

The Denver board has a 5 p.m. regular meeting scheduled at district offices. (The board already has adopted its 2012-13 budget.)

The Colorado State University Board of Governors opens two days of meetings that will include decisions on 2012-13 tuition and fees. The location has not been announced. The board often holds its June meetings at the Pingree Park campus in the mountains west of Fort Collins, but that facility has been evacuated because of the High Park fire.

FRIDAY

The State Council for Educator Effectiveness will have an all-day meeting starting at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at the Colorado Education Association, 1500 Grant St.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Charter oversight: The St. Vrain Valley school board is trying to get its charter schools to do a better job of filing audit information with the district, according to this story from TimesCall.com.

Early literacy bandwagon: The Ohio legislative has passed a bill requiring improved student literacy assessments in the early grades, individualized help for lagging students and, in some cases retention for 3rd graders who are behind in reading, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Several legislatures this year considered similar bills, most of which were based on a Florida law. The effort is pushed by an advocacy group, the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Colorado’s new READ Act incorporates some elements of the concept but has lots of guardrails around student retention (see story for details).

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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