Archive for the 'school construction' Category

27th 2014
“Student Success Act” or “Dingelhoffer”, Let’s Make Bolder School Finance Proposal

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Public Charter Schools & reading & School Choice & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asked. She had a point. If I decided to call a rose a dingelhoffer, it wouldn’t affect the beauty or scent of the flower in any way. Nor should we be distracted by the name given to Colorado’s finally released HB 1292, known as the Student Success Act. I’m talking about the grand proposal to dole out some of the extra dollars built up in the State Education Fund.

I don’t want to get hung up on the names. (Some called the HB 1262 teacher incentive program — very recently killed by a party-line committee vote — the “Great Act.” I liked the idea for what it would have done, not for what it was called.) That’s why you have little old me around, to help dig beneath the surface.

Chalkbeat Colorado broke the news about HB 1292 Tuesday night. It’s clearly a plan that has been evolving since the idea was floated a couple months ago. All the shifting pieces had me tied up in knots a couple weeks ago. Not everything is clear yet, but the new and finally introduced version of the bill seems okay. Continue Reading »

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12th 2014
State Debate on How to Spend Extra Education Dollars Has Me Twisted in Knots

Posted under Education Politics & Elementary School & Public Charter Schools & reading & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

When it comes to the question of education funding, I take a glance over at the Golden Dome and wonder: Are we headed for a big clash, or will there be an unexpected meeting of the minds? The stage has been set with the demise of Amendment 66 and a hefty balance of more than $1.1 billion in the State Education Fund.

Apparently, one month into the 2014 legislative session, there are two distinctly different visions of what to do at the State Capitol. On one hand, some groups and legislators from both parties want to rally behind a proposal that would incorporate a lot of last year’s Senate Bill 213 ideas on a smaller scale, just not attached to a statewide tax increase. Ideas on the table include more money to: Continue Reading »

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13th 2013
A Colorado Digital BOCES? Leave the Creative Ideas to Innovative Falcon 49

Posted under Innovation and Reform & learning & Online Schools & PPC & School Board & school construction & Suburban Schools & Teachers

Intriguing. The Colorado Springs Gazette today reports that some of the region’s leading education innovators have proposed a new idea to provide specialized oversight and support to online learning programs:

The Falcon School District 49 school board is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal that would create a collaborative education organization that could charter and provide services to online schools statewide. The concept was pitched to the board last week.

D-49 would not have oversight of the proposed Colorado Digital Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES), but appeared poised to jump start the organization’s creation. District officials said D-49 would not benefit financially from the entity.

The digital BOCES would focus on blended and online learning programs across the state, said Kim McClelland, D-49’s iConnect Zone Leader. It would charter online schools, instead of districts being responsible, she said.

Continue Reading »


9th 2012
Will Modern Skyview Campus, Choice Set Stage for Mapleton Academic Success?

Posted under Elementary School & High School & Independence Institute & learning & PPC & School Choice & school construction & School Finance & Suburban Schools

Yesterday I shared some thoughts about how a growing Brighton district with some crowded schools might find some creative solutions to its problem. While securing safe, functional and adequate facilities is a high priority for some school districts, others can bask gratefully in their new quarters and hopefully focus even more on the mission of educating students.

Which brings us to another part of Adams County. Not every school district will be able to do what Mapleton has created with its colorful, new state-of-the-art Skyview Campus. On September 27, some of my Education Policy Center friends received a tour of the creatively-designed campus from superintendent Charlotte Ciancio and human resources officer Damon Brown.

(from L to R): Brown, Raaki Garcia-Ulam, Ben DeGrow, Pam Benigno, Ciancio

Continue Reading »

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8th 2012
Could Crowded Brighton Schools (More Comfortably) Think Outside the Box?

Posted under High School & Independence Institute & PPC & school construction & School Finance & Suburban Schools

A Denver Post Your Hub story from last week by Joey Kirchmer chronicles some growing pains in Brighton School District:

Brighton High School and Prairie View High School are at or over capacity this school year, which has forced administrators to turn to outdoor modular classrooms, roaming teachers and possibly start looking at a split-schedule system.

Continue Reading »

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11th 2012
Upward Spending, Revenue Trends Add Context to Tax-Hiking School Districts

Posted under Denver & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & PPC & School Board & school construction & School Finance & Suburban Schools & Teachers & Urban Schools

From Todd Engdahl’s story yesterday in Ed News Colorado, at least 23 school districts in the state are going to local voters this year to ask for one or more tax increases–mill levy overrides for various operating costs, and/or bonds or BEST matching grant requests to pay for capital construction or renovation projects. (In the unusual case of Aspen, voters will decide on a sales-tax increase to fund schools.)

The proposals follow one year after a historically-high 26 out of 38 local school tax proposals went down to defeat. Notably, this year five of the state’s nine largest school districts, cumulatively enrolling more than one-third of Colorado’s public K-12 students, are seeking voter approval of various tax increases. Some of them represent significant amounts (descriptions from Ed News in quotes):

  • Jefferson County: “$99 million bond for a variety of building upgrades; $39 million override to maintain class size and protect some programs.”
  • Denver: “$466 million bond for maintenance, technology, renovation and upgrades; $49 million override for enrichment, student support services and other programs. DPS also is an alternate for a $3.8 million BEST grant to renovate South High School, and some of the bond issue would provide a match.”
  • Cherry Creek: “$125 million bond for building upgrades and technology; $25 million override to offset cuts.”
  • Aurora: “$15 million override for partial offset of state cuts.”
  • St. Vrain: “$14.8 million override to maintain staff compensation, technology and early childhood programs.”

Given fiscal realities, there can be little doubt that all of these districts experienced some degree of cuts in per-pupil funding. But hard data from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) only goes through the previous school year of 2010-11. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has compiled CDE numbers for the state’s five largest tax hike-seeking districts. Continue Reading »


9th 2012
K-12 Issues in Colo. Legislative Session Figure to Be Busier for 2012

Posted under Denver & Education Politics & Grades and Standards & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & PPC & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & school construction & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

If I were to write “it’s that time of year again”… again, you’d probably be ready to chew me out. And my little ears are too sensitive for that. So I’ll just take note that Colorado’s legislative session kicks off on Wednesday. Which naturally means (pardon me if you’ve heard this before) get ready and hold on to your wallets.

Ed News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl as usual does a great job previewing the session and legislative initiatives likely to emerge. If you want the in-depth take, you simply have to go check out the story. According to the story, action is likely to be seen on the following fronts, among others: Continue Reading »

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9th 2011
Digging Up School Spending Figures in Colorado’s Ongoing Lobato Hearings

Posted under Courts & Education Politics & Independence Institute & PPC & Research & school construction & School Finance

Welcome to Week 2 of 5 in Colorado’s ongoing school finance adequacy lawsuit, familiarly known as Lobato v State, or just the Lobato case. A report this morning from Ed News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl highlighted some of Monday’s key plaintiff testimony:

One of the main plaintiffs’ witnesses in the Lobato v. State school funding lawsuit testified Monday that his study projects Colorado needs to spent $10.3 billion a year on K-12 schools, an increase of $3.6 billion.

Justin Silverstein is vice president of Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, a Denver-based research and consulting firm that produced a 96-page study projecting the funding Colorado school districts would need to support the demands of state requirements such as new content standards, tests and teacher evaluation systems. The firm was paid $115,000 by the plaintiffs for the study. [link added]

I think I just overheard one of my Education Policy Center friends ask where they could get $115,000 to conduct a study and write a report. But I digress.

Anyway, the lead sentence of that story caused me to do a little back-of-the-envelope math. $10.3 billion minus $3.6 billion = $6.7 billion. Diving deep into the murky waters of school funding statistics — where you can blindly pull a number of different dollar figures off the ocean floor — I have to ask: Where does that number come from? Continue Reading »


11th 2010
Big Cost to Fixing Up Colorado Schools? Time to Think Outside the Box

Posted under Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & PPC & school construction & School Finance & State Board of Education

Ed News Colorado reports from yesterday’s State Board meeting about the state of school buildings:

Colorado schools have $17.8 billion in maintenance and renovation needs over the next eight years, according to a statewide schools facilities study released Wednesday.

The study, required as part of the 2008 Building Excellent Schools Today law, was the first-ever comprehensive structural review of 8,419 buildings, from large classroom buildings to sheds.

The $17.8 billion estimate covers only what the study calls Tier I buildings – basically those used for instruction.

The study found those buildings need $9.4 billion of deferred maintenance work between now and 2013. An additional $13.9 billion is needed for energy and educational suitability projects. A final $3.9 billion in work is estimated to be necessary from 2014-18.

Continue Reading »

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9th 2009
Offering Ideas to Address Stapleton School Overcrowding Challenge

Posted under Denver & Elementary School & Independence Institute & Innovation and Reform & Middle School & Parents & Private Schools & Public Charter Schools & School Choice & school construction & School Finance

What to do if you’re a school district, you have a fast-growing neighborhood, and not enough tax revenue to meet the promises to build schools for the elementary and middle school kids in the area? Well, Denver Public Schools is confronting that problem right now in regards to the Stapleton neighborhood. A meeting with community members “to share a list of options about what to do about overcrowding” is scheduled for next Tuesday.

While it’s hard to argue that this situation isn’t a sticky one, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow nevertheless has written a new piece for Education News Colorado (also re-posted at the Independence Institute website), proposing some suggestions to help the district and citizens think outside the box a bit.

Here’s the flavor: Continue Reading »

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