Who Is In Charge

A little dustup in Senate Ed

The proposal to provide state stipends for nationally board certified teachers was laid over abruptly in the Senate Education Committee Thursday after a sharp disagreement between the Democratic vice-chair and a Republican member over an amendment.

Colorado CapitolHouse Bill 12-1261 would provide $1,600 annual stipends to teachers who are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and $4,800 payments to such teachers who work in schools that are accredited with turnaround or priority improvement status. (The bill would continue an existing but unfunded law that’s due to expire.)

Colorado has 641 certified teachers out of about 95,000 nationwide, according to testimony Thursday.

The bill started in the House with an entirely different proposal for encouraging experienced teachers to work in low-performing schools. But sponsor Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, had it amended to focus on stipends for certified teachers.

But the bill’s title doesn’t say anything about board certified teachers, and Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, questioned whether the measure could go forward because of that. (Colorado legislative rules are fairly tight about what a bill can contain under the wording of its title.)

“It came from the House this way, and the chair of the House Education Committee thought it fit just fine,” said sponsor Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins.

“How can we pass a bill that doesn’t do what the title says?” asked Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial.

Bacon is committee chair but wasn’t presiding because he was presenting the bill. Vice Chair Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, wasn’t in the room for part of the discussion but returned before King started to offer amendments that would add professional development funding for teachers at low-performing schools and bonuses when such schools improve.

She abruptly ruled that his first amendment didn’t fit under the title, prompting a sharp reaction from King: “This has been a very collegial education committee this year, [but] this is disgusting.”

Bacon told Hudak to lay the bill over and adjourn the meeting. After the gavel fell, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, worked his way around the committee table, trying to cool down tempers.

(Get more details on the bill in this legislative staff analysis.)

For the record

The House Thursday gave final 64-1 approval to House Bill 12-1335, the main state budget bill for 2012-13. Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker and a member of House Education, was the only no vote. House Bill 12-1338 passed on a 65-0 vote. It requires that any surplus state revenues be transferred to the State Education Fund at the end of this fiscal year and at the end of 2012-13. (A minimum $59 million would be transferred at the end of this year.)

The Senate Finance Committee voted 4-3 (Democrats yes, Republicans no) to kill House Bill 12-1150, which would have required that Public Employees’ Retirement Association benefits be calculated on the highest seven years of salary, not on the three years used now. It would have applied only to new employees. It was the sixth of seven GOP-backed PERA bills killed so far this session.

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.

Tennessee Votes 2018

Early voting begins Friday in Tennessee. Here’s where your candidates stand on education.

PHOTO: Creative Commons

Tennesseans begin voting on Friday in dozens of crucial elections that will culminate on Aug. 2.

Democrats and Republicans will decide who will be their party’s gubernatorial nominee. Those two individuals will face off in November to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Tennessee’s next governor will significantly shape public education, and voters have told pollsters that they are looking for an education-minded leader to follow Haslam.

In Memphis, voters will have a chance to influence schools in two elections, one for school board and the other for county commission, the top local funder for schools, which holds the purse strings for schools.

To help you make more informed decisions, Chalkbeat asked candidates in these four races critical questions about public education.

Here’s where Tennessee’s Democratic candidates for governor stand on education

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley hope to become the state’s first Democratic governor in eight years.

Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor answer the big questions on education

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and businessman Bill Lee are campaigning to succeed fellow Republican Haslam as governor, but first they must defeat each other in the 2018 primary election.

Memphis school board candidates speak out on what they want to change

Fifteen people are vying for four seats on the Shelby County Schools board this year. That’s much higher stakes compared to two years ago when five seats were up for election with only one contested race.

Aspiring county leaders in charge of money for Memphis schools share their views

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners and county mayor are responsible for most school funding in Memphis. Chalkbeat sent a survey to candidates asking their thoughts on what that should look like.

Early voting runs Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, July 28. Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 2.

full board

Adams 14 votes to appoint Sen. Dominick Moreno to fill board vacancy

State Sen. Dominick Moreno being sworn in Monday evening. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

A state senator will be the newest member of the Adams 14 school board.

Sen. Dominick Moreno, a graduate of the district, was appointed Monday night on a 3-to-1 vote to fill a vacancy on the district’s school board.

“He has always, since I have known him, cared about this community,” said board member David Rolla, who recalled knowing Moreno since grade school.

Moreno will continue to serve in his position in the state legislature.

The vacancy on the five-member board was created last month, when the then-president, Timio Archuleta, resigned with more than a year left on his term.

Colorado law says when a vacancy is created, school board must appoint a new board member to serve out the remainder of the term.

In this case, Moreno will serve until the next election for that seat in November 2019.

The five member board will see the continued rollout of the district’s improvement efforts as it tries to avoid further state intervention.

Prior to Monday’s vote, the board interviewed four candidates including Joseph Dreiling, a former board member; Angela Vizzi; Andrew LaCrue; and Moreno. One woman, Cynthia Meyers, withdrew her application just as her interview was to begin. Candidate, Vizzi, a district parent and member of the district’s accountability committee, told the board she didn’t think she had been a registered voter for the last 12 months, which would make her ineligible for the position.

The board provided each candidate with eight general questions — each board member picked two from a predetermined list — about the reason the candidates wanted to serve on the board and what they saw as their role with relation to the superintendent. Board members and the public were barred from asking other questions during the interviews.

Moreno said during his interview that he was not coming to the board to spy for the state Department of Education, which is evaluating whether or not the district is improving. Nor, he added, was he applying for the seat because the district needs rescuing.

“I’m here because I think I have something to contribute,” Moreno said. “I got a good education in college and I came home. Education is the single most important issue in my life.”

The 7,500-student district has struggled in the past year. The state required the district to make significant improvement in 2017-18, but Adams 14 appears to be falling short of expectations..

Many community members and parents have protested district initiatives this year, including cancelling parent-teacher conferences, (which will be restored by fall), and postponing the roll out of a biliteracy program for elementary school students.

Rolla, in nominating Moreno, said the board has been accused of not communicating well, and said he thought Moreno would help improve those relationships with the community.

Board member Harvest Thomas was the one vote against Moreno’s appointment. He did not discuss his reason for his vote.

If the state’s new ratings this fall fail to show sufficient academic progress, the State Board of Education may direct additional or different actions to turn the district around.