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News Release - State Board Hears Charter School Appeal

March 8, 2012

News Release

State Board of Education hears charter school appeal

Board also briefed on budget and school finance

The Colorado State Board of Education met this week for a regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, March 7. Highlights from the meeting include:

Charter School Appeal

The State Board of Education voted yesterday to uphold the decision by Denver Public Schools to close Life Skills High School. Life Skills, an alternative charter high school that serves at-risk students, appealed a Nov. 17, 2011 decision by DPS to deny the school’s renewal application. Life Skills argued that they met nine of 12 provisions outlined in its contract with DPS and they were making reasonable progress in improvement. DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg questioned the progress, saying the school had not made sufficient improvement since the school opened eight years ago.

Budget

Staff briefed the state board on the Joint Budget Committee’s March 5 figure-setting. On Feb. 9, the JBC passed a bill proposing a 2 percent cut in all state agencies’ personal services which means a loss of jobs. This results in approximately $677,000 in reductions for CDE. The proposal also includes a partial offset in funding reductions by covering premium increases in health, life, dental and other employee benefits. The Office of State Planning and Budget submitted a request asking that the JBC reconsider its decision due to the hardship it would place on all state agencies. The JBC will meet March 16 to make a decision.

The JBC also considered a proposal for the state assessments. The JBC staff recommended an additional $8.2 million, over the amount CDE receives for assessments in fiscal year 2012-2013 to develop new assessments in science, social studies and personal financial literacy and make modifications to existing exams. The committee did not vote on this recommendation, but requested CDE staff prepare a cost comparison analysis which the committee will consider early next week.

There are two decision items for educator effectiveness in CDE’s budget request. The first is to continue funding CDE’s Educator Effectiveness Office. CDE has requested $174,390 to $424,390 for fiscal year 2012-2013 to fully fund the office. In addition to state funding, the department has received $195,000 in private grants for the last two years to assist with costs related to implementation of educator effectiveness. JBC staff determined that law prohibits CDE from requesting more than the annual appropriation of $250,000 CDE received this year in state funds to finance the office. The JBC tabled this recommendation and CDE is working with legislators to run a bill to resolve this issue and fully fund the educator effectiveness office.

The second item is a $7.7 million request to implement several areas of educator effectiveness. The figure-setting recommendation is $1.4 million less than CDE’s request. The JBC voted to approve the recommendation for $6.4 million.

JBC staff recommended a $480,000 reduction to the School Counselor Corps program in Fiscal Year 2012‐13. This will allow all grants made in Fiscal Year 11‐12 to remain fully funded, but the Department will not be able to make any new grants. The JBC approved a $100,000 increase for Reading Services for the Blind program, which is funded by fees collected by the Public Utilities Commission.

School Finance

The JBC has not made any decisions on budget balancing since this will most likely happen in the state’s long bill. The department will know more after the March 19 budget forecast is released. The School Finance Office anticipates a $48 million reduction in total program for next year.

Race to the Top Round Three

CDE has been working with school districts to secure participation in the grant, signing on 161 districts to participate. Districts must submit scopes of work by March 14. CDE will review the scopes of work internally before submitting them to the U.S. Department of Education by the end of the month. CDE is in the process of setting up the office that will manage the grant, to be called Vision 2020. Vision 2020 is a reference to the year 2020, when the students who are in Colorado’s education system now, will graduate. For more information, visit www.cde.state.co.us/index_educator_RTTT3.asp

Rules

The state board reviewed the Rules Concerning the Process for a Nonprobationary Teacher to Appeal a Second Consecutive Performance Rating of Ineffective. The draft rules proposed by the department are based on recommendations from the State Council for Educator Effectiveness. The state board will hold a public hearing on the rules on Friday, March 30. The board will vote on the rules on April 11-12, during its regularly scheduled board meeting.

The state board approved a notice of rulemaking for amendments to the Rules for the Administration of the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act. The rulemaking hearing is scheduled for May 9 at 3:30 p.m.

The state board also adopted the Rules for Student Possession and Administration of Asthma, Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Medication or Other Prescription Medications. The rules outline the requirements for student possession and administration of prescription medication, should a local school district board of education, including the Charter School Institute, choose to adopt and implement a policy for the management of student possession and administration of prescription medication.

Graduation Guidelines and Endorsed Diploma

Staff from CDE and the Department of Higher Education presented policy recommendations which would establish minimum state terms of graduation and the subsequent terms of an endorsed diploma between the state board of education and the Colorado Commission of Higher Education for implementation in 2015. CDE and CHE continue to meet twice a month to work on the timelines, endorsed diploma, and other details.

Colorado Preschool Program Annual Report

Staff presented findings from the Colorado Preschool Program’s annual report.

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