Wednesday Churn: JBC gets a warning

Updated 10 a.m. – Colorado runs the risk of failing to meet constitutional requirements for funding schools, the Joint Budget Committee was told today.

Committee analyst Carolyn Kampman said continuing the current pattern of financing K-12 districts could mean the state will be out of compliance with the state constitution’s requirement for a thorough and uniform public education system by 2015-16.

That’s because the current pattern of budget cuts will mean the state can afford to pay for only base per-pupil funding and won’t have any additional revenue to provide money to districts for differences in staff cost of living, percentage of at-risk students and district size.

Kampman’s briefing paper recommends that the JBC start consulting with other legislative leaders and the governor’s office about possible changes in the school finance system.

Read the briefing paper here, and check EdNews later for full coverage of the committee hearing on school spending in 2012-13.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The Joint Budget Committee will get a two-hour seminar on K-12 spending today when members are briefed on options for school funding in 2012-13.

The briefing, like those for all state departments, is the second major step in the budget process, which began Nov. 1 with the release of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget proposal (see story) and ends in April or May with a final decision by the full legislature.

Veteran JBC analyst Carolyn Kampman has prepared a detailed analysis of school support, which will be released this morning when she starts walking the committee through the document, explaining the K-12 funding system and presenting various options for the committee to consider. Kampman also will compile questions raised by the committee and forward them to Department of Education officials, who will have an opportunity to answer later.

The general feeling in education circles is that school funding will be cut again for 2012-13; it’s just a question of how much.

The JBC will be briefed Dec. 1 on other parts of CDE’s budget, and then department brass will have a chance on Dec. 16 to make their spending case and to answer questions raised at the two briefings.

One issue will be the $25 million cost of developing a new state testing system. CDE asked for the funds in its budget request and Hickenlooper denied it. Education Commissioner Robert Hammond has said he’ll make a pitch to JBC for the money.

Today’s briefing runs from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the JBC hearing room in the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. EdNews will be covering the event, including with Tweets as warranted, and you can listen live here.

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and Assistant Superintendent Antwan Wilson this morning will announce a multi-million dollar federal grant to support and improve college-readiness programs for students who attend schools in the Northwest Denver community. According to a DPS news release, the grant will support DPS’ efforts to foster college-going cultures in eight schools, following all current sixth and seventh grade students at those schools through their middle and high school years. The event is at 9 a.m. at Centennial ECE-8 School, 4665 Raleigh St.

The Colorado GSA Network is looking for students to serve on its Leadership Council. The Colorado GSA Network is a program to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students and their allies. The group has released resource guides to educate students on their rights, on how to start and create programming for Gay-Straight Alliance clubs, and on how to combat bullying and harassment. There’s more about the organization here, including a link at the top of the page to find out more about expressing interest in the Leadership Council.

What’s on tap:

The Educational Success Task Force meets today at 1 p.m. at the Colorado Community College System offices, 9101 E. Lowry Blvd. Scroll down at this link for the Nov. 16 agenda.

The St. Vrain School District Board of Education has a 6 p.m. study session scheduled. Election results and board committee assignments are on the agenda. The meeting will be at Mead High School, 12750 County Rd. #7, in Longmont.

The Eagle County Board of Education starts a series of special meetings tonight to begin the process of deciding how to cut $5 million from next year’s school budget. Three high schools are on the list of possible cuts, including Red Canyon High School and the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Eagle County voters earlier this month rejected the school district’s request for a $6 million property tax increase. A reduction in performance pay and cuts to central office staff are also among the budget-balancing steps being eyed. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.  at 757 E. Third St. in Eagle at 6 p.m., followed by an executive session at 8 p.m. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

The U.S. Congress is considering a spending bill that will make a statement about the federal government’s role in deciding what shows up in school lunches. Congress appears to be pushing back on the Obama administration’s efforts to limit the availability of unhealthy foods in schools. The final version of the spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this year. Frozen pizza companies, the salt industry and potato growers are being credited — or criticized — for their lobbying efforts to make the changes. Read about it here.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at [email protected]

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”