The state Capital Construction Assistance Board has two major rounds of grants under its belt, but there’s still some confusion about how the BEST program is run and projects are chosen.
So, the board is opening the floor today for public comment on its construction guidelines, project ranking procedures, local match requirements and waivers, master plans and other issues.
The Build Excellent Schools Today program largely serves rural and/or poorer districts unable to finance their own building needs. As Education News Colorado has previously reported, see stories here and here, the board has sometimes struggled with its recommendations to the State Board of Education, which has final say.
There has been some particular dissatisfaction and misunderstanding with how the board and the construction division staff have handled prioritization of projects and local matches. And the board has some of its own issues, particularly that some districts have sought state money for projects they should be funding themselves. (Some requests for roof repair funds have sparked that concern.)
Time again for school district budget hearings and the state’s largest district, Jefferson County Public Schools, has released the schedule for its first round of community meetings. Five meetings are scheduled on the same morning, Nov. 13, a Saturday, and each will be led by a school board member. Here’s the complete list of times and locations. Jeffco leaders estimate $26 million will need to be cut from the 2011-12 budget – that’s twice the $13 million trimmed for 2010-11. Superintendent Cindy Stevenson talks about the issue in a recent video, linked at the bottom of the district’s homepage.
Speaking of money matters, Gov. Bill Ritter‘s announcement last Friday that he’s proposing to cut state school support by $156.3 million and replace it with $159 million in federal “Edujobs” funding was not greeted with wild applause by school districts. Roberta Selleck, the superintendent in Westminster Adams 50, said, “The additional funding certainly would have helped our students.”
Adams 50, like many other districts, did not announce plans for its $1.9 million portion of the federal money because district leaders feared the state might require it be used to replace existing money. “With so many budget cuts in recent years, it was easy to dream about areas in the school district the money could go,” Selleck said in a piece on the District 50 website. “But our finance team was explicit in their belief that the state would use the money to backfill its own revenue shortfall, and, unfortunately, that turned out to be the case.”
What’s on tap:
The State Council for Educator Effectiveness continues its task with a meeting today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the boardroom at the Colorado Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax. Ave. The agenda includes a discussion of the degree to which the state can dictate teacher evaluation methods to school districts and, at 2:30 p.m., a presentation titled “Using Student Academic Growth Measures to Inform Educator Effectiveness Determinations,” by Damian Betebenner with The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. Public comment is at 3:30 p.m.
Good reads from elsewhere:
- State of DPS: Boasberg happy with DPS progress but distressed by students’ lack of reading skills – The Denver Post
- NYC closures: In sharp rise, 47 city schools may close over performance – The New York Times
- Outspoken to the end: Michelle Rhee isn’t pulling punches in her last days as D.C. chancellor.