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Rise & Shine: Jeffco teacher turnover expected to rise

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 09:34

Newsy day for DPS

Charter school organization DSST plans to have 22 schools in Denver enrolling as many as a quarter of secondary school students by 2024-25. The Denver school board approved eight new schools Thursday. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

After months of planning and angst, the board voted to approve a shared enrollment zone for middle school students in northwest Denver. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Denver is taking a new approach to school turnarounds, which entails making dramatic changes to staff and programs at a school in an effort to improve student outcomes. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

The DPS board has approved a $911 million operating budget for the upcoming school year. ( Denver Post )

Jeffco budget

The Jeffco school board has approved a new budget on a split vote but backed a new teacher pay plan unanimously. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Plight of the poor

Harvard professor Robert Putnam wanted to make sure the audience at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science knew one thing: poor youths in America feel alone. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

More Jeffco news

Administrators and union leaders expect Jeffco’s teacher turnover rate to increase again next year. ( 9News )

Charter news

A farm-based charter school is expected to be open in Florence during the fall of 2017 and will also offer a choice of other occupational classes. ( Canon City Daily Record )

A California charter school threatens legal action against a planned Dougco charter over the use of a founding father’s name in the school’s name. ( Denver Post )

Fighting hunger

The Aurora Public Schools and city government have teamed up to provide free summer meals for needy families. ( Aurora Sentinel )

The Pueblo 60 schools and a local food bank are providing free groceries for families this summer. ( KOAA )

Categories: Urban School News

Denver board approves dramatic expansion for charter network DSST

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 01:30

By 2024-25, local charter school organization DSST plans to have 22 schools in Denver enrolling as many as a quarter of the city’s secondary school students.

The network’s plan to add eight new schools to its already-growing set of schools was approved by the Denver Public Schools board at its June meeting on Thursday night. DSST currently has nine schools and had already been approved to open five more.

“We’re thrilled,” said Christine Nelson, DSST’s chief of staff. “We’re excited about what this means for Denver schools.”

The board also approved its 2015-16 operating budget, which includes raises for teachers and principals and funds to hire new teachers, and a series of new school plans at the last meeting of the school year.

Check Chalkbeat’s board tracker to see how the board voted on each of the items at tonight’s meeting.

Growing network

The new DSST schools approved tonight include a pair of middle schools and a pair of high schools focused on humanities — a new subject for the network — and an additional two high schools and middle schools focused on science and technology.

The expansion would make DSST the largest charter network in Denver and in Colorado — and, at 10,500 students, larger than most of the state’s school districts. Denver Public Schools currently enrolls just under 90,000 students.

DSST’s plans to expand drew well over 100 supporters to a board meeting last week. Many spoke in favor of the board approving new DSST schools.

Board member Arturo Jimenez, who represents northwest Denver, was the sole vote against the expansion.

“It should probably garner national attention that by voting to approve a great number of DSST schools, in additional to 14 we already have, we are turning over a great part of our portfolio to these schools with very little accountability to the public,” Jimenez said.

“Because they use public money and serve public school students doesn’t make them public schools,” he said. “They are private organizations with their own boards.” Jimenez raised concerns about the schools’ financial transparency.

Jimenez also said it is not clear where so many new schools will be placed, given that the district has very few open facilities. He said he believes one DSST school will eventually be placed in the Horace Mann building in northwest Denver that currently houses Trevista, an elementary school that currently serves mainly students from the Quigg Newton housing project.

Board president Happy Haynes and members Landri Taylor and Mike Johnson spoke in favor of approving the new schools.

“The eyes of the nation may well be upon us in this decision,” Haynes said. “And what they’re going to see is this district recognizes that the school that are the top performing schools in our district by far, these schools that, when we talk about the equity issues you discussed earlier tonight, are showing the district the way on achieving one of our extremely important goals around closing the opportunity gap.”

“We disagree about whether these are public or private schools,” Haynes said. “I feel very strong in my sense of accountability and in our ability to hold these schools accountable.”

Other new schools

The district also approved “redesign” plans at four schools in southwest Denver and new charter agreements for Rocky Mountain Prep, Downtown Denver Expeditionary Learning School, and Banneker Jemison STEM Academy. The district temporarily rejected a proposal from a group hoping to open new online learning centers in Denver.

University Prep’s plan to run Pioneer Charter School, first floated earlier this year, was also approved. The board of Pioneer, one of the district’s first charter schools, surrendered the school’s charter earlier this spring formed an unusual agreement with the board of the University Prep.

Several proposals for new schools, including a district-run dual language program, were withdrawn between this winter, when applications were solicited, and May.

The district is still soliciting applications for schools to open in southwest Denver.

 

Categories: Urban School News

School board moves a step away from neighborhood middle schools in northwest Denver

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 01:28

After months of planning and angst, the Denver school board voted tonight to approve a shared enrollment zone for middle school students in northwest Denver.

Denver Public Schools has been introducing shared zones — where students aren’t automatically assigned to a single school, but are guaranteed a spot at one of a number of schools. — in neighborhoods across the city in what officials say is an effort to foster integration and promote school choice.

Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the new approach to school assignments will “promote opportunity and equity within northwest Denver…and promote integration and equity in our school district, which are foundational principles of our democracy.

“The narrower you draw your boundaries, the more likely you are to see schools that are less diverse,” Boasberg said. “The broader you draw the zone, the more likely you are to draw greater diversity.”

Those issues have been pressing in northwest Denver, which includes middle-class neighborhoods and rapidly-gentrifying areas, as well as the largest housing project for lower-income families in the state, Quigg Newton.

The board had voted to close the middle school at Trevista@Horace Mann, a pre-K-8 school near the Quigg Newton project, earlier this spring, citing low enrollment and difficulties adequately staffing the school to serve English language learners. That required the district to redraw middle school boundaries in the region.

The new enrollment zone in northwest Denver will include STRIVE, Skinner Middle School, Denver Montessori Jr/Sr High School, and Bryant-Webster. Trevista will remain open as a K-5 school.

Boasberg commended the principals at each of the schools involved in the zone. “We have a common set of values, equity and integration,” he said. “They put aside the fact that some are district, some are charter.”

Board member Arturo Jimenez, who represents northwest Denver, was the sole vote against the plan. Jimenez raised concerns about whether the zone would genuinely foster integration, whether choices would be accessible to the neighborhoods neediest students, and about transportation plans for families in the region.

Check Chalkbeat’s board tracker to see how the board voted on each of the items at tonight’s meeting.

Some residents of northwest Denver had raised concerns about the fact that each of the schools except Skinner has a specialized focus. Some with children at Skinner were concerned that the school would become overcrowded. Others were concerned that the proposals would automatically assign students to STRIVE, a charter school. Still others were concerned that some of those avoiding STRIVE were biased or misinformed about the charter school’s model.

Dozens of families and employees at the affected schools appeared at a board public comment session last week to share their thoughts on the plan.

The new zone gives preferences to students with certain backgrounds at certain schools: Students who already attend Skinner will be given preference at that school. Students with Montessori backgrounds will be given preference at the Montessori school. And students who have been attending dual language elementary schools will be given preference at Bryant-Webster.

Board members said the district plans to provide for transportation and will evaluate how transportation options are working and how enrollment patterns are playing out each year.

“It’s a dynamic, changing neighborhood,” said board member Mike Johnson.

“The legal environment makes it so challenging to do the things we’d hope to do to create equity,” said board president Happy Haynes. “The district’s been very creative in finding ways, through choice and through shared enrollment zones, to address equity issues.”

The district also voted tonight to approve a three-year placement of Denver Montessori Jr./Sr. High School at the Smedley building in northwest Denver.

The board rejected an amendment proposed by Jimenez that would require the district to create a new, district-run middle school in northwest Denver before moving any other new or existing program into the region. Board members said they were not sure how that amendment would align with a new policy that dictates how schools are placed in buildings.

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco board OKs budget with more money for teachers, charters

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 20:16

GOLDEN — The majority of the Jefferson County school board Thursday gave its approval to a billion-dollar budget that would allocate more money for teacher compensation, charter schools, and build a school for 600 students in the northwest corner of the county.

The 3-2 vote decision marks the end of a second year of contentious budget conversations.

The board also unanimously approved an agreement on teacher pay between the district and the teachers union.

The budget debate this year focused on how the district should spend a smaller-than-anticipated increase in state funding and savings from last year.

And while the board approved the construction of a new school in Arvada, there was debate about how to finance it.

District officials, including Superintendent Dan McMinimee, suggested the district should issue Certificates of Participation, or COPs, to build a new school in Arvada for kindergartners through eighth graders.

COPs work like a mortgage for government agencies. Agencies take out a certain amount of money and pay it back over time with interest. Jeffco Public Schools have used COPs before. And more recently, Aurora Public Schools issued COPs to build a new school to offset its over own overcrowding issues.

However, members of the Jeffco board majority refused to take out the loan, arguing the district should not spend money it didn’t have.

“This is not a time to take on debt or additional burden,” said board chairman Ken Witt.

In the end, the 2015-2016 budget will provide more than $15 million in compensation increases, with $4.6 million going to teacher raises. About half of the $15 million is allocated to mandatory health insurance and pension increases.

Another $2.5 million will be distributed to the district’s charter schools. This will complete board chairman Ken Witt’s mission to fund district-run and charter schools equitably.

And $3 million will be earmarked to build the new elementary school in Arvada. That $3 million will be combined with $15 million left over from the current school year to fund the construction.

“We still don’t have a plan to account for the dramatic increase expected,” board member Jill Fellman said.

District officials are expecting 6,000 new students in Arvada during the next seven years.

Categories: Urban School News

Why Denver Public Schools thinks “Year Zero” may be the answer to rocky turnarounds

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 18:41

Jesse Tang won’t start his new job as the principal at Schmitt Elementary School for more than a year.

But by this May, he had already made the trip from Massachusetts, where he was finishing graduate school, to Denver, where he met with students and staff at Schmitt, more than half a dozen times.

Tang’s visits represent a shift in Denver’s approach to school turnaround. Turnaround entails making dramatic changes to staff and programs at a school, with the help of federal or district funds, in an effort to improve students’ outcomes.

One of the first steps in the district’s efforts to rapidly improve struggling schools has often been hiring a new principal. But while those principals have usually had just months to make big decisions about the future of the schools they are tasked with improving, Tang has an entire school year to get to know the school and create a plan before taking the reins. In the meantime, Cindy Miller, an interim principal, will be running the day-to-day operations of the school.

Denver Public Schools is referring to the approach as its “Year Zero” turnaround strategy. Harrington, Schmitt, and Goldrick, three elementary schools in southwest Denver, will all have both an interim and a “Year Zero” principal next year.

The DPS board will vote on whether to approve redesign plans that give principals the ability to select all staff at those schools and to change academic programs at the schools this Thursday. The board will also approve the 2015-16 budget, which includes funds to support having two administrators at each school.

The board is also planning to vote on a redesign plan for Valverde Elementary. Valverde already has a new principal, Drew Schultze, but teachers at the school will also be asked to reapply for their jobs at the end of next year and Schultze will also have the ability to make changes to the school’s current program.

The overall goals of turnaround haven’t changed. Denver Public Schools has identified the four schools for improvement efforts due to persistently low academic achievement and other signs that the schools need a change. At Schmitt, just about a third of students are on grade level in math and reading. Nearly 50 percent of students zoned to the school choose to attend other schools.

But the hope is that giving school leaders more time to prepare, plan, and build relationships before turnaround will both help school leaders’ jobs be more sustainable and improve the culture and outcomes at turnaround schools.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to digest the lessons we’ve learned from turnaround efforts so far,” said Susana Cordova, the district’s chief schools officer. “One of the things we saw that made the biggest difference was the quality of the plan that’s created; the ownership of that plan by a leader; and the ability of the community to have a voice in the process.”

The idea of having more time for preparation is not entirely new: Some of the district’s other new schools, including DCIS: Fairmont, have given future principals a planning year before starting their schools.

Cordova said that the relative stability in those schools, compared to high rates of teacher turnover and lagging results in some other turnaround schools, “helped us start thinking about ‘Year Zero,’ to give principals a chance to plan, to engage with the community, to build the right structures, and hit the ground running with that plan.”

The district has had a high rate of principal turnover in recent years, especially in its high-needs schools.

Cordova said teachers in these turnaround schools will also know more about what they’re getting into before they are asked to reapply for their jobs and that community members will have a chance to get to know the principal and give input on the future of their schools.

At a work session of the district’s board in June, Tang, Schultze and the interim and “Year Zero” principals at Harrington, and Goldrick shared their plans for the schools. Board members were optimistic.

“I’ve got a big smile on my face,” said Rosemary Rodriguez, who represents southwest Denver.

The outcome of the upcoming turnarounds remain to be seen.

But Tang said that the chance to have the extra year to prepare had made a significant impact on his decision to come to Denver and his ability to plan. “I have the professional space to do all of this research, listening, and diagnostic work with a partner who has years of experience and knows the DPS system,” he said.

“I’m getting to know individuals and communities at this level that completely informs the work that I do in a way that I might not have an opportunity if the timeline were much shorter,” he said.

Categories: Urban School News

Harvard professor sheds light on the plight of the American poor

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 16:50

PHOTO: Susan Gonzalez

“This is the one sentence I want you to remember most when you leave tonight: increasingly American poor kids are isolated from everybody. From their parents, from schools, from the community institutions, from everybody. And they know this and they are unbelievably cynical and distrusting.”
– Robert Putnam

Harvard professor Robert Putnam wanted to make sure the audience at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science knew one thing: poor youths in America feel alone.

Highlighting the gap between rich kids and poor kids in America, Putnam discussed how this disparity exists because of factors beyond a child’s control, such as their parent’s educational level or what neighborhood they live in.

The American dream is in crisis, Putnam argued, because a child’s future is no longer solely dependent on their individual capabilities but on their parents’ and grandparents’ financial and academic successes (or lack thereof).

This can lead to children not having the same resources and support as richer peers, which leaves them unprepared and distrusting.

The author of more than a dozen books spoke about his latest work, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” Wednesday evening at an event hosted by The Denver Foundation.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: More philanthropic dollars going to few charter students

EdNewsColorado - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 03:39

New school year, new leader

Aurora Central High, a notoriously struggling school, will have a new interim principal this fall. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Robots and arts and crafts, oh my!

Afterschool and summer programs sampled by Denver school leaders and community members at National Learning Day event. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Charter funding

Report finds almost 60 percent of charter students in Colorado received more than 95 percent of all the philanthropic funds distributed in the state. ( Denver Post )

The Thompson School Board unanimously approved Wednesday a $130.9 million general fund budget including an additional $450,000 for two charter schools. ( Reporter-Herald )

Engineering a better program

With the help of a $2 million grant, Colorado State University will merge electrical and computer engineering curriculum to teach students how to use the specialties in tandem in real-world situations. ( 9news via Denver Business Journal )

Jeffco budget news

The 2015-2016 Jeffco Schools budget was approved last week, made by a 3-2 vote by the board majority, and the full adoption is scheduled for today's board meeting. ( Arvada Press, Chalkbeat Colorado )

Journey to education

After fleeing violence and persecution in their homeland of Myanmar, three refugees recently graduated from the local high school in Delta. ( KUNC via KVNF )

Cashing in

Colorado Springs nonprofit organization Parents Challenge received $125,000 in grants that will fund operations for the coming school year. ( The Gazette )

Growing Up

The Glenwood Springs Branch Library is engaging kids this summer with their inaugural plant project. ( Post Independent )

Turning trash into treasure

Prairie Winds Elementary School in Monument recently won a regional contest for its recycling work this past spring. ( The Gazette )

Categories: Urban School News

Struggling Aurora Central High will have new leader next fall

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 18:46

The high school at the heart of Aurora Public Schools’ most ambitious school improvement efforts will have a new interim principal this fall.

The suburban school district has released Mark Roberts from his principalship duties at Aurora Central High School and offered him a new position within the district, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Roberts’ exit comes as Aurora school officials have earned preliminary nods from their school board and the State Board of Education to begin creating a plan for a network of schools — including Aurora Central — that would work together outside of some state and district policies to improve learning for students

“In light of this desire for change, APS will be hiring an interim leader with unique experience to assist with this change,” spokeswoman Patti Moon said in a statement. “We can assure the Aurora Central community that the interim principal will actively engage students and families while focusing on improving student achievement.”

Moon declined further comment until Roberts accepted the job or not.

Roberts did not return an email request for an interview. He was principal at Aurora Central for two years. Under his leadership, the academically struggling school, which has run out of time on the state’s accountability timeline, made slight improvements on tests scores. But impressions of Roberts’ tenure have been mixed among community members, parents, students, and staff.

Robert’s replacement will be one of 11 new principals in APS this fall.

This year APS changed the way it screened for and hired principals. But given the proximity to the start of the school year, Aurora Superintendent Rico Munn will make the selection of who replaces Roberts.

The most substantial change to the process is what APS’s Chief Personnel Officer Damon Smith calls “performance-based activities.”

Principal candidates, very early in the application process, were asked to role play three or four different scenarios principals might encounter on a daily basis. Those situations included providing a teacher with feedback on a lesson, dissecting student data and creating a strategy to improve results, and working through a parent complaint.

One of the reasons why APS changed how it hired principals was because of student achievement, Smith said.

“In our district, we have a lot of work to do,” Smith said. “We need to get a better understanding of a person’s ability.”

Between the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school year, 16 APS schools will have new principals. Of those, nine are on the state’s accountability watch list for poor academic performance.

Hiring an effective principal is paramount to boosting student learning, said Kim Knous Dolan, associate director at the Donnell-Kay Foundation, who has lead research on Colorado school principals.

(Disclosure: Chalkbeat Colorado is a grantee of the Donnell-Kay Foundation.)

“A principal is the person who is going to hire teachers, support teachers, hopefully keep teachers, who are the most important in student learning gains,” Knous Dolan said. “Principals are the glue that makes sure the entire school is achieving and growing.”

Knous Dolan and other education observers interviewed by Chalkbeat noted the growing pressures on and different responsibilities of principals makes it difficult to recruit and identify quality leaders. That challenge is even more difficult when hiring a principal to turn around an academically struggling campus.

“Turnaround leaders in particular need a relentless focus on achievement, need to be able influence others, and impact change,” Knous Dolan said.

Peter Sherman, the state’s school turnaround leader, added that school district officials hiring principals need to think carefully about the unique challenges each school has and what skills are need to address those challenges.

“I don’t think there is an ideal principal description,” Sherman said. “Schools need different people at different times.”

To help build those skills in new and veteran principals, the Colorado Department of Education has given $1.6 million to 13 school districts , including Aurora, to send 45 principals to specialized turnaround training.

That training might be useful for whoever goes on to lead Aurora Central, said Michelle Ancell, vice president of the Aurora Central High School alumni association.

“I think the issues facing Central are very complicated,” she said. “They go beyond the classroom and the school building. … I think the issues that have faced every principal at Central — including Dr. Roberts — are going to affect the new principal as well. Not only the academic issues but the societal issues as well.”

Categories: Urban School News

Robots, up-cycled art, and more rule in Denver summer learning offerings

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 17:31

Mixing and matching robotic cubes that looked straight out of a science fiction movie, a classroom of about 20 students demonstrated how they’d be spending their time in a summer program focused on building hands-on science and engineering skills called Science Matters in America.

The kids assembled the cubes in different ways to see how they behaved, like figuring out what combinations caused the blocks to light up or move backward.

Science Matters was one of six summer programs showed off for community members, district officials and school leaders at Denver Public Schools’ National Learning Day, held Wednesday at Johnson Elementary School. The event, a joint effort between DPS and the Denver Afterschool Alliance (DAA), highlighted the importance of after-school and summer learning programs in Denver.

According to data from DAA, 17 after-school programs collectively served more than 5,000 students in Denver during the 2013-14 school year. City and district officials emphasized the role that the programs play in preventing learning loss during the summer months, especially for low-income students who often don’t have access to rich summer educational programming.

The event was meant to display the diversity of offerings in the city’s summer learning programs, which included art projects like creating “up-cycled” art from old magazines, sports and wellness activities like goalie practice, to language practice for students learning English.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Grand Junction schools shift to performance-based learning

EdNewsColorado - Wed, 06/17/2015 - 09:44

On My Own

Nearly one-fifth of Denver principals are taking the district up on an offer to opt their schools out of centrally-provided curriculum or professional development programs next school year and instead choose their own. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Saying goodbye

Colorado Education Commissioner Robert Hammond got a highly complimentary send off Tuesday. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

A new direction

Seven schools in Grand Junction's will use performance-based learning next fall. Instead of traditional quarter or semester grades, students will earn credit for consuming curriculum in bite-size chunks, prove they understand that curriculum as soon or late as they can and move on. ( Grand Junction Sentinel )

life lessons

More than 200 Daniels Fund scholarship winners will participate in a program that teaches ethics, etiquette, social and other skills. ( 9News )

Summer science

Some Colorado high school students built and designed experiments on how silver crystals react in the weightlessness of space. Those crystals could potentially be used in the manufacturing of electronic wiring. ( 9News )

a dying wish

Individuals are performing random acts of kindness and posting about them on social media in honor of a dying Colorado student. ( Longmont Times-Call )

Can you tell me how to get ...

The most authoritative study done about the impact of “Sesame Street” finds that the famous show on public TV has delivered lasting educational benefits to millions of American children – benefits as powerful as the ones children get from going to preschool. ( Washington Post via The Durango Herald )

teaching the teacher

This week, the Levine and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation announced a $30 million partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the goal of creating a better model for teacher training. ( NPR via KUNC )

Categories: Urban School News

In first test of flexibility plan, nearly a fifth of Denver principals go their own way

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 21:39

Nearly one-fifth of Denver principals are taking the district up on an offer to opt their schools out of centrally-provided curriculum or professional development programs next school year and instead choose their own.

This is the first year principals have that option, after the Denver school board told district officials at a meeting in May that school leaders should have the flexibility to set their own programs.

Since that meeting, district staff have been scrambling to make the board’s vision for a more decentralized district — a marked departure from the current arrangement, in which most schools’ academic programs are automatically set by the district office — a reality.

The principals’ decisions to opt in and out are the first firm evidence of whether they are actually interested in the decision-making power they are being granted.

Alyssa Whitehead-Bust, the district’s chief academic and innovation officer, said on Tuesday that about 81 percent had chosen to keep district services so far. A final list of which schools are opting in or out will be available later this week.

“I think this [rate of principals opting in] is about what we expected. We thought [the new district-selected curriculum] would meet the needs of the majority of schools,” said Whitehead-Bust. “It’s the first time that we’ve done this, so there’s no baseline data.”

She said many of the school leaders who are opting out of either professional development or curriculum work at innovation schools, which already have some flexibility over their academic programs. The district’s charter schools also have complete control over their academic programs.

But some are principals at the district’s traditional schools, for whom the ability to choose academic programs is a new development.

Responding to the change

The board’s instructions to the district to give school leaders control over academic programs, effective immediately, came as a surprise to DPS staff. Several staffers told Chalkbeat they anticipated an eventual move toward more school-based decision-making, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

A nearly-completed new academic strategic plan, for instance, had to be significantly revised to reflect the accelerated introduction of flexibility.

Well after school budgets had been set for the upcoming year, principals were suddenly tasked with deciding whether to change programs.

The district’s finance department, which had also already set the district’s 2015-16 budget, had to rework how funds for curriculum and professional development would be distributed to schools that chose not to participate in district programs.

And the process for helping principals pick their own materials had to be developed from scratch. A new website — flexibility.dpsk12.org — was created to host resources and timelines. District staff held webinars and consulted with principals, who were reassured that the same flexibility would be available in 2016-17.

Given the short timeline, “I’m excited about how much the team’s been able to develop and deliver,” Whitehead-Bust said. “With time they’ll be able to revise and refine the processes.”

Still, among some teachers and even some principals, “it’s created a great deal of confusion,” said Henry Roman, the president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. “You can’t just make a decision that’s going to impact an entire year in just a couple weeks, without having enough time to plan, think, bring people on board.”

He said that while the idea of giving school leaders more freedom to choose academic programs in their schools is interesting, it’s not yet clear what the results will be. “I hope whatever decisions they make are driven by strong data on instruction.”

Practical changes

In the meantime, the change has brought up numerous practical concerns.

Since the district adopts curricular resources in chunks in order to pace spending — purchasing, for instance, new middle school math books one year and new elementary school literacy books in another — there is simply not enough money for all schools to buy new books every year.

Mark Ferrandino, the district’s chief financial officer, said the solution is that schools that would receive new materials next year anyway will receive $104 per student for curriculum. Schools will be eligible for those funds on a cycle.

“So if we’re rolling out fourth grade curriculum and a high school says they’re not opting in, they don’t necessarily get money for curriculum because we weren’t rolling out curriculum for high school,” he said.

Schools that choose their own professional development will receive approximately $22 per hour per teacher to cover teachers’ extra time on the job during that schools’ new programs.

Ferrandino said the approach to budgeting for flexibility might change as soon as 2016-17, depending on how the coming school year goes.

Whitehead-Bust said most principals were interested in how to make sure their school is serving English language learners. Very few academic materials currently on the market are both aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English and math and meet Denver’s requirements under a federal court order to offer programs in Spanish for Spanish-speaking students.

Putting so much decision-making power in the hands of principals in a district where principals’ tenures are, on average, just three years and where students often move between schools also raises the specter of schools where academic programs are changed frequently or where students get lost in the shuffle.

Whitehead-Bust said a combination of consultations with district staff and budget constraints should help prevent rapid swings or inconsistencies.

Nick Dawkins, who will be the principal at Manual High School next year, said that he is planning to opt out of district-offered professional development for teachers next year. He said the flexibility allows him to tailor his resources to his teachers’ needs, rather than have to adapt the district’s programs to suit the school.

“That’s big. A lot of teachers have talked about being crushed by the weight of initiatives, so this has really changed the conversations,” he said. “Even people who are delivering services went from, ‘next year you’re going to be doing this’ to ‘next year, this is what we can offer.'”

Dawkins said he thinks the changes will require principals to work together differently, perhaps pooling together to purchase resources or working together to make sure feeder patterns of schools in a given geographic area have academic programs that mesh together.

“It will be interesting to watch,” he said.

Categories: Urban School News

Despite uncertainty, Education Commissioner Robert Hammond exits on a celebratory note

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 21:38

A retirement party is an occasion for saying nice things, and education Commissioner Robert Hammond received a highly complimentary send off Tuesday.

Hammond is leaving the Department of Education at the end of month after serving as commissioner since 2011. (See this story about Hammond’s April announcement and this article about his thoughts on Colorado education.)

The atmosphere was mostly smiles and good feelings in the ornate lobby of the Department of Education as scores of CDE employees and figures from the state’s education community gathered for a farewell reception.

But Hammond is leaving at a time of division on the State Board of Education and uncertainty about the future leadership of the agency. Board chair Marcia Neal generated shock waves last week when she announced her resignation, citing divisions on the board (see story).

Both Neal and Gov. John Hickenlooper injected those uncertainties into Tuesday’s celebration.

Neal said the board needs to “remove that focus on political squabbles and return our focus to the children.”

The governor said, “Our [state] school board shouldn’t be partisan. … We should be looking for ways to bring people together.”

And Hammond sparked prolonged applause from the crowd when he called Neal “a pillar of strength.”

What they said

Although the commissioner of education is the only state department chief who’s not appointed by the governor, Hammond’s retirement party drew both Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also director of the Department of Higher Education. Here are some comments.

  • “What’s remarkable about Robert Hammond and the board [is] no one’s given in to frustration. … There was no limit to what Robert and his team did, and the board did.” –Hickenlooper
  • “I can’t believe you and Marcia are leaving at the same time. It seems karmically unjust.” – Hickenlooper
  • Hammond is “a good man who cares about the right things” and who’s navigated “the choppy seas and shark-infested waters that we refer to as public education.” – Garcia
  • “He set out to build a first-class organization, and he did that.” – Neal
  • “No one else has earned retirement more than Robert has.” – Interim Commissioner Elliott Asp
What he said

Hammond’s remarks focused on his efforts to build a strong team at CDE and to provide more service and less regulation to districts. Here are some quotes.

  • “We have to keep our eyes on how education will change in the future.”
  • “We all have to come together despite our differences for the children of this state. … The success we have experienced in this state is because of all of us working together.”
  • “What’s amazing is what we’ve been able to accomplish,” given all the education changes and new programs launched by the legislature in recent years.
  • “Our children will live up to our expectations.”
Faces in the crowd

Garcia was the joker among the afternoon’s speakers, telling the crowd, “I see the crazies on the right and the crazies on the left, the crazy reformers and the crazy traditionalists.”

Among those crazies was a good mix of Colorado education names, including:

All State Board members plus former members Elaine Gantz Berman and Paul Lundeen … state Sens. Andy Kerr and Nancy Todd … a selection of superintendents including Harry Bull of Cherry Creek, Scott Murphy of Littleton, Bruce Messinger of Boulder and DPS’ Tom Boasberg, among others.

Education interest groups also were well represented, including Ken DeLay from CASB, Kerrie Dallman of CEA, Scott Laband of Colorado Succeeds, Bill Jaeger from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Van Schoales from A+ Denver and Nora Flood of the Colorado League of Charter Schools.

Changing of the guard

Tuesday’s event was more than Hammond’s retirement party. it marked the end of an era for CDE. Not only are Hammond and Neal leaving, but top Hammond aides Keith Owen, Jill Hawley and Janelle Asmus also are headed to new jobs. The board’s top staffer, Carey Markel, already has left. Other departures are expected ahead of the hiring of a new commissioner and the inevitable management changes that will bring.

The department’s overseers, the seven elected members of the sometimes-fractious State Board, are in for their own changes. A 3rd District vacancy committee will select a replacement for Neal, and the Republican-controlled board will elected new officers after that.

Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Colorado district participates in active shooter drill

EdNewsColorado - Tue, 06/16/2015 - 09:47

Autonomy

The Denver Post editorial board commends Denver Public Schools' move to give principals more decision-making power. ( Denver Post )

Meal Time

Colorado still has one of the lowest rates of summer meal participation in the country. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Earnings

The Douglas County district plans to give staff raises. ( Douglas County News-Press )

Preparation

The Fountain-Fort Carson District 8 plans to participate in an active shooter drill. ( The Gazette )

Into Space

A group of Centennial students are sending their science project to the International Space Station. ( 9News )

Running

St. Vrain board member Joie Seagrist announced she is running for re-election to one of the school board's three open seats. ( Daily Camera )

Trajectories

Glenda Ritz, the librarian who defeated education reform favorite Tony Bennett to become Indiana's state superintendent in 2012, is now running for governor. What that means for education politics in the state. ( Chalkbeat Indiana )

Getting Along

The Jefferson County teachers union agreed to a pay plan for next year. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Funding

Letter to the editor: Charter schools funding should depend on schools opening doors to more students. ( Reporter-Herald )

School funding

More Colorado districts are showing signs of financial distress. ( Fort Morgan Times )

Teacher Turnover

The Pagosa Daily Post wraps up a four-part series on teacher turnover with some musings on State Board of Education chair Marcia Neal's retirement. ( Pagosa Daily Post )

Categories: Urban School News

Colorado makes gains in summer meal participation but still low-ranked nationally

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 20:01

When it comes to feeding low-income children when school’s out during the summer months, Colorado is at the back of the pack.

Last year, it ranked 44th  among the states and Washington DC in summer meal participation as a ratio of school year meal participation by low-income students. That ranking comes from an annual report from the Food Research and Action Center, a national group often referred to as FRAC.

Still, observers here say Colorado’s poor showing in the FRAC report doesn’t tell the whole story and obscures the state’s progress over the last five years.

Last year, the state served nearly 1.5 million summer meals, almost double the number served in 2009, advocates say. In addition, a statewide coalition of summer meal stakeholders recently ramped up efforts in high-needs communities with few or no summer meal offerings. There are 31 meal sites this summer in 29 “high priority” locations such as Alamosa, Sterling and Yuma, compared to 12 last summer.

Finding summer meal sites

“We have done incredible work to grow participation in Colorado, but there’s a lot of work still to be done,” said Cate Blackford, child nutrition program manager for Hunger Free Colorado.

The state’s goal this year is to increase total meals served by 7 percent. The meal program, which takes place at schools, churches and other community locations, is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture or USDA. It’s free for all children 18 and under.

Here are the best and worst performing states in FRAC’s annual summer meals report. The ratio indicates how many students get USDA-funded summer meals for every 100 low-income students who get school meals the rest of the year.

One statistical factor that appears to suppress Colorado’s summer meal numbers on the FRAC report is the fact that the organization looks at average daily meal attendance in July, the slower of the two big summer meal months here.

State officials say they understand why FRAC looks at July—for apples-to-apples state comparisons—but with many Colorado schools letting out in late May, June is the busier month.

In fact, if the state’s June meal attendance numbers from 2014 had been subbed in for the July numbers used by FRAC, Colorado would have achieved a ranking of 38th.

The rural conundrum

One of the biggest barriers to summer meal participation in Colorado is getting the kids to the food, especially in far-flung rural areas. All told, 44 percent of the state’s children live in rural or mixed rural settings, according to the 2015 Kids COUNT Colorado report.

“I think the impact of poverty is magnified by living in rural communities,” said Devin Koontz, public affairs director for the Mountain Plains region of the USDA.

Not only are there fewer summer meal sites in such communities, they may be all but impossible to access for families who live far away or lack reliable transportation.

Koontz noted that none of the 10 states in the USDA’s Mountain Plains region—most of them with large rural populations—made FRAC’s top 10 for summer meal participation. That honor belongs mostly to East Coast states like New York, Vermont and Connecticut.

PHOTO: Mesa County Valley School District 51The Mesa County Valley district launched a mobile meals program this summer with $58,000 from the Western Colorado Community Foundation. The “Lunch Lizard” van came about after three of five district schools stopped offering summer meals because they could no longer pay for accompanying activities.

One major exception is New Mexico, which ranked 2nd on the FRAC report.

That state, which like Colorado releases students from school in late May, is both more rural and impoverished than Colorado. It also got a head start in offering federally-reimbursed summer meals, joining the program in 1969 when it began as a pilot. In contrast, Colorado joined after the program went national in 1975.

Compared to about 547 summer meal sites in Colorado this summer, New Mexico has about 900.

Advocates in Colorado are intrigued by their southerly neighbor’s success. Brehan Riley, program manager in the Colorado Department of Education’s Office of School Nutrition, said she and a colleague joked about taking a field trip to New Mexico.

Reagan Smetak, chief of the Family Nutrition bureau in New Mexico’s Department of Children Youth and Families, credited the program’s reach partly to involvement from the governor and other top officials.

“We get that support from the highest levels,” he said.

Jennifer Ramo, executive director of the poverty policy organization New Mexico Appleseed, said she doesn’t think the state does anything drastically different from other states. The food is about the same. The types of sponsors and sites are also similar.

“I think it’s been many years of working hard,” she said.

Creating buzz

One possible difference between Colorado and New Mexico may have to do with how the two states have educated the public about summer meals.

“We do a huge amount of outreach and I think it makes a big difference,” said Ramo.

Such efforts include handing out summer meal maps to students before schools let out and having top state officials attend summer meal kick-off events across the state. In addition, TV and radio stations often run public service announcements or otherwise cover the program.

PHOTO: Colorado Department of Education The Colorado Department of Education is advertising the summer meals program on city buses.

Colorado officials agree that public awareness is critical and say there are efforts underway to advertise the state’s summer meal program on RTD buses, in light rail cars, at select AMC movie theaters and even on receipts from certain Family Dollar stores. They’ve also sent postcards to families who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and worked with the Rockies baseball team and the Rapids soccer team to publicize the program.

“We’re just trying to ramp up the marketing and outreach pieces,” said Riley.

There’s also a push to experiment with mobile meals, which rely on buses or trucks to deliver meals to several sites within a community each day. Nine meal sponsors use that model in Colorado.

“We really believe that is a huge way to increase participation,” said Riley.

Interestingly, New Mexico has just two mobile meal programs: One in the capitol city of Santa Fe and one launched this summer in a small town east of Albuquerque.

Different model for the future?

Despite New Mexico’s relative success in delivering summer meals to low-income children, advocates there have no illusions that it’s easy, especially in remote areas.

It often comes down to nitty gritty details like ensuring that a meal site has a working refrigerator or a community organization without Internet access can circumvent the web-based application to become a summer meal sponsor.

“If someone needs a refrigerator, we make sure they get it,” said Ramo. “It’s that level of problem-solving required to address the gaps.”

An easier solution, she said, would be the addition of money during the summer months to low-income parents’ electronic benefit transfer cards. Such a program was piloted in 10 states a couple years ago and advocates believe it could make a dramatic difference.

Congress would have to act to open that program to all states.

“If we could expand that program, we could meet so many of our kids’ needs in the summer,” said Blackford.

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco union agrees to teacher pay plan for next school year

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 17:51

GOLDEN — The Jefferson County teachers union Monday afternoon agreed to a pay plan that will allow the school district to move forward with hiring teachers for the fall.

The plan, which totals $6.4 million, will adjust salary for more than 1,000 district veterans with up to six years of experience to be equal to what the Jeffco Public Schools wants to pay new teachers in order to be competitive with neighboring districts.

Another 4,400 Jeffco teachers will receive on average a 1 percent raise. Teachers rated highly effective will earn a slightly higher raise than those rated effective.

Under the proposed plan, teachers in their first three years who are rated partly-effective would also receive a nominal raise. But teachers with more than three years of experience who are rated less-than-effective will not receive a raise.

The plan also gives raises to Jeffco teachers who earned an advanced degree since 2012, when the district stopped compensating for those additional credentials.

The agreement breaks a stalemate between the school district and the Jefferson County Education Association that made it difficult for the district to hire for 300 vacant teaching positions in the district.

The district has been under a court-ordered injunction not to use a compensation system it had developed without the input of the JCEA.

JCEA executive director Lisa Elliott said her members’ agreement to the plan was reluctant.

“What I’m struggling with is this 1 percent [raise],” she said. “The rise in the cost-of-living in the Denver-metro area is much more than that. So this is another year of flat to negative earnings for teachers in Jeffco. I want to be really clear that this 1 percent is not going to solve your problem of attracting and retaining.”

The total amount allocated for compensation increases for all district employees next year will be about $16 million. About $7 million of that amount is allocated to mandatory increases to pensions and health insurance.

The agreement between JCEA and Jeffco comes after the school board last week agreed to add an additional $2.5 million to pay increases. That money allowed the district to offer pay increases to all teachers who had a qualifying rating on his or her annual evaluations.

With compensation for next year settled, the district and union will return to negotiating specific language for a new teacher contract. Last week, the district sent the union a draft of a contract to use as a way to discuss specific topics. On Monday, the union provided edits and alternative language.

Among the union’s proposed changes: adding back mandated classroom sizes, extending the contract’s duration to four years as it has been for the last 25 years, and proposing one joint union-district collaboration committee.

Another element missing from the contract, Elliott said, is specific language about how teachers will be paid moving forward. The Jeffco school board, last fall, abolished the district’s salary schedule that outlined teacher pay raises based on years in the classroom.

“We have to have some kind of reliable system,” she said.

JCEA’s edits of district draft contract DV.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2103021-draft-negotiated-agreement-2015-v1jceamarkup61315.js', { width: 620, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: true, pdf: true, container: '#DV-viewer-2103021-draft-negotiated-agreement-2015-v1jceamarkup61315' });
Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: DPS toys with “enrollment zones” to better integrate schools

EdNewsColorado - Mon, 06/15/2015 - 09:23

Jeffco negotiations

The Jeffco contract draft puts more decision-making power in the hands of schools leaders and teachers, but limits some privileges of the union and lacks detail about teacher evaluations. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

The full 25-page draft of Jeffco's new teacher contract. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

The Jefferson County Education Association and Jeffco Public Schools will meet today to discuss contract negotiations. ( Arvada Press )

Zoning out

DPS shakes up traditional school boundaries through the use of "enrollment zones." ( Denver Post )

Backing out

After initially agreeing to participate, CU Boulder decides to back out of national sexual assault survey. ( The Gazette via Associated Press )

Common sense

A year later, how APS' district-wide initiative to reduce student suspensions through "Common-Sense Discipline" has changed Aurora schools. ( CPR )

The great outdoors

A state program has launched a five-year initiative aimed at getting kids to play outside. ( The Daily Sentinel )

Live off the land

Thompson School District might be purchasing nearly nine acres to expand Berthound High School in the future. ( Reporter-Herald )

Categories: Urban School News

Jeffco contract draft: big on site-based decisions, short on teacher evaluation specifics

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 19:02

Jeffco Public Schools officials Friday released a 25-page draft contract for its teachers union that puts more decision-making in the hands of school leaders and teams of teachers, lacks details on some of the district’s most important efforts, limits some of the historic privileges of the union, and lasts for less than a year.

The document, which was sent to the Jefferson County Education Association and reporters Friday morning, is meant to focus the work of the committee tasked with creating a new contract, the district’s lawyer stressed. The bargaining teams have until Aug. 31 before the current contract expires.

But the document, which lawyer and lead negotiator for Jeffco Jim Branum has been working on for months behind the scenes, is the most comprehensive work to date to come out of negotiations. JCEA agreed to discuss the document’s contents at 4 p.m., Monday. The association might also bring specific language of its own.

We spent today comparing and contrasting Branum’s document to the current master agreement between Jeffco and JCEA. Here are a few of the noteworthy items we found:

The proposed document is one-fifth the size of the current contract.

A priority for the district is to streamline the contract. Officials suggested early in the process that some provisions were out-of-date and could be struck all together while others could be moved to an employee handbook.

This draft accomplishes that goal.

A side-by-side comparison found 27 different sections of the current contract either no longer exist or have been collapsed into broader sections. Some of those sections include topics on academic freedom and what happens if classroom materials are challenged.

While the contract is a quicker read, many of the sections are short on specifics. For example, the current contract spells classroom limits and how extra unpaid hours teachers may be required to work are to be used. The proposed contract leaves those decisions to individual school committees.

Jeffco removes specific language about evaluation process.

While the details about how teachers are evaluated exist in a policy that’s separate from both the current contract and the new draft, the current contract does include some specific language about how many observations a teacher is to receive and by when.

That’s not the case in Branum’s draft. Instead, the contract says the evaluation system and process will be “clearly defined and communicated to” teachers.

This point is likely going to be a huge rallying cry for the JCEA, maybe even more so than pay increases. Armed with an independent report that found the district’s evaluation system isn’t applied equally across the district, the union has been pushing for evaluation reform. They want stricter guidelines and more training for observers — not less.

While it’s completely possible for both stricter guidelines and more training to co-exist outside of a contract, JCEA is looking to codify as much as it can to provide its teachers with assurances and predictability given the increasing stakes of evaluations.

The contract would expire on June 30, 2016.

Since 1992, the district’s contract with its teachers has ended on Aug. 31, well after the start of the school year. (In earlier years, the contract ran from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.)

The end of summer deadline gave teachers and the district time to workout their issues over a few months without the stress of the classroom.

It’s unclear why the district has proposed this change, other than maybe it wanted to align its contract to its fiscal year that ends June 30.

It’s also unusual for the district to propose only a one year extension of the agreement. Contracts have also historically have been multiyear agreements for many cycles.

District officials declined to explain this change saying, “we’ll be discussing the contract at the bargaining table.”

The union gets a win — for now — in seniority rights for displaced teachers.

One of the earliest signs of tension during this year’s negotiations was around how schools should decide which teachers to fire if their student population decreases.

The union believes teachers with more years in the classroom should get to stay. The district team believed these kinds of personnel decisions should be based on evaluations, not years in the classroom. The two sides dropped the topic in an effort to find common ground on less contentious issues.

For the moment, JCEA’s preferred method of choosing which teachers stay and which go when a school has to cut staff — seniority — remains in the contract. But that’s likely not going to sit well with the district’s conservative school board majority that has pushed evaluations as a decision making tool.

The union’s rights have been scaled back.

Many of the historic rights the union has been given in its teachers contract don’t exist in Branum’s draft.

For example, the union’s right to use school buildings, free of charge is gone. The union’s right to post information on employee bulletin boards? That’s gone too. Also, JCEA is going to have make more trips to Office Depot. The proposed contract doesn’t allow JCEA to order office supplies from the district’s vendors.

What is preserved? one of the first sections in the district’s proposed contract is the recognition of JCEA as the exclusive representative of teachers. That might rub some of the board’s conservative majority the wrong way.

There are no new details on teacher raises.

Any hope for a more robust system to determine teacher raises remain unaddressed in this proposal.

Since the district abandoned the traditional salary schedule last fall, in lieu of a plan linked only to teacher evaluations, some have hoped for a different system. Earlier this spring, the union presented a plan that rewarded teachers with raises for a variety of things including advanced degrees, leadership roles, and time in the classroom.

Not only does none of that exist in Branum’s draft, but under today’s proposal, teacher salaries remain the same until a percentage increase linked to evaluations can be agreed to by the bargaining teams.

How big of a fight will a new system to determine teacher raises be for JCEA given the battles on other fronts? That’s hard to say.

Meet your new ‘professional problem solving committee’ (whatever that is).

Under the new contract language, schools will be required to establish a “professional problem solving committee.” This group will be made up of at least three teachers selected by the school’s staff and administration. The panel will be called upon to help mitigate conflict among staff.

It’s not clear what kind of disputes this group might be tasked with. What we do know is that this group won’t replace a formal human-resource grievance process because that’s outlined elsewhere.

Categories: Urban School News

Weekend Reads: The three big strategies driving the United State’s rising graduation rates

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 18:57
  • Graduation rates have been rising steadily since 2002. A team of reporters around the country go deep on the strategies schools have been using to drive that increase. (NPR Ed)
  • The national movement to extend the school day with after-school programs is prompting school districts and community organizations to share data and strategies in new ways. (EdWeek)
  • One in four black young people are neither in school nor employed in nine American cities featured in a new report. (The Atlantic)
  • Don’t miss WNYC’s series on a transgender third grader attending a Brooklyn public school. (SchoolBook)
  • A group of students is petitioning the College Board to let them retake the SAT for free after an error caused scores from one section of the test to be thrown out. (Answer Sheet)
  • Here’s what test-taking looks like in Baltimore, India, Pakistan, South Korea and more places around the world. (The Atlantic)
  • And in China, officials are using drones to identify students who cheat on the country’s college entrance examination. (CBS News)
  • Renovations at an Oklahoma school uncovered 100-year-old chalkboard drawings. (NewsOK)
  • A fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute takes a deep look at the changes that have reshaped New Orleans schools since Hurricane Katrina. (Washington Monthly)
  • Michael Petrilli used a linguistic algorithm to analyze the tweets of prominent education policy officials, teachers and writers and found a lot of upbeat, analytic people. (Education Next)
  • Even though college tuition in Norway is completely free, the children of parents without a college degree are just as unlikely to attend as American children of parents who didn’t go. (Hechinger Report)
  • The Mexican government has reinstated its new teacher evaluation plan after the country’s June 7 elections, which the teachers union had threatened to disrupt, were carried out smoothly. (EdWeek)
  • The New York teenager who spent more three years on Riker’s Island, much of it in solitary confinement, waiting on a trial that never happened committed suicide last week after many struggles returning to school and society since his release. (New Yorker)
Categories: Urban School News

Here’s Jeffco’s first draft of a new teacher contract

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 12:33

In an effort to accelerate negotiations with its teachers union, Jeffco Public Schools has developed a working-draft of a contract and sent it to the Jefferson County Education Association.

The two sides will discuss the 25-page document Monday afternoon.

“It is not intended to be a formal district proposal or a final product — there are a number of provisions that still need to be bargained, and we anticipate that JCEA will be bringing additional provisions to the table,” wrote Jim Branum, the district’s lawyer and lead negotiator, in an email to reporters. “The intent is to give everyone a more focused goal to work toward.”

Contract negotiations between the Jefferson County school district and its union have become strained. Complicating matters is that the two parties must negotiate not only a new contract for subsequent school years, but they must also work out how to pay new hires for the next school year after a judge put the district’s plans on hold.

JCEA had little response Friday morning to the district’s overture.

“We look forward to returning to the negotiations table on Monday,” said JCEA President John Ford.

At first glance, the contact developed by the district is influenced by its goal to give schools more flexibility about how it uses its resources. For example, in Article 8, class size will be determined at the school level. That’s a departure from the current contract, which gives ranges for class sizes depending on the level.

What’s in? What’s out? Help us compare and contrast the district’s proposed contract language with the existing contract. Leave your observations below or email them to ngarcia@chalkbeat.org. We’ll post a story later today with analysis. 

Jeffco’s proposed teacher contract DV.load('http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2097057-draft-negotiated-agreement-2015-v1.js', { width: 620, height: 600, sidebar: false, text: true, pdf: true, container: '#DV-viewer-2097057-draft-negotiated-agreement-2015-v1' });
Categories: Urban School News

Rise & Shine: Parents raise concern about Jeffco principal

EdNewsColorado - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 09:51

Chaos at CDE

State Board of Education Chairwoman Marcia Neal resigned Thursday. She said the growing dysfunction and her health are two reasons why she is stepping down. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Neal, in interviews, refused to call out any specific board colleague directly. But she dropped plenty of hints about who (Steve Durham) she is at odds with. ( Denver Post )

Neal almost didn't win re-election to the board. That's because she had a tough primary opponent. ( Grand Junction Sentinel )

Some of Neal's colleagues (not Steve Durham) and observers are concerned about the uncertain future of the board and the Colorado Department of Education. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Meanwhile, Elliott Asp has been officially named interim-education commissioner. He'll serve in that role until a replacement for Robert Hammond is found. ( Chalkbeat Colorado )

Complaints

Some Jefferson County parents say the principal of an elementary school treats families of Hispanic students differently than non-Hispanic families. And they plan to file a formal complaint with the federal government. ( 9News )

summer learning

More low-income Aurora students have access to summer programs after the COMPASS program expands. ( Denver Post )

Healthy schools

Colorado schools will begin compiling data on students who get busted for using or distributing marijuana. ( AP via Denver Post )

Turnaround trends

More states are getting into the school turnaround business by setting up their own districts. ( Ed Week )

Teacher Turnover

The average starting salary for a teacher in the state's school districts with the highest turnover is $28,407. ( Pagosa Daily Post )

Two cents

After the Twin Peak Charter School controversy, professors at CU argue that charter schools might need more diversity training. ( Longmont Times-Call )

Colorado should offer a private-school choice option to its students, argues Ross Izard is an education policy analyst for the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver. ( Greeley Tribune )

Categories: Urban School News

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