Who Is In Charge

SBE narrows list of search firms

Colorado Department of Education
Colorado Department of Education

The State Board of Education next week will interview representatives of three firms vying to advise the board in finding a successor for outgoing education Commissioner Dwight Jones.

The interviews are tentatively set for the board’s scheduled meeting next Monday, depending on the availability of the applicants.

Five of the seven board members held a work session Monday morning to discuss the six firms that applied by the Nov. 22 deadline. Because state purchasing rules require bidder names be kept confidential until after a contract is awarded, board members referred to bidders by letter – A, B, etc. – during the discussion.

Three firms – identified as B, C and D – were dropped from further consideration by consensus. After discussion of A, E and F, board members agreed they want to interview representatives of all three.

Under state rules, cost is supposed to be the determining factor if all other bidder characteristics are considered equal. The board did not specify a contract amount or ceiling in the proposal it published. But that proposal was contained in a form named “request for documented quotion,” which is the form for state projects costing under $150,000. The proposal said a new commissioner should begin work “no later than July 1, 2011.”

According to the board’s request for bids, the search firm will be expected to work with the board to develop criteria for a new commissioner; gather input from state officials, interest groups, educators and the public; finalize the job description, advertise for candidates; do background checks and create an interview format.

The request specified that applicants “have at least five years experience in executive level placement, including placement as a public official in the education field” and also have “familiarity with the Colorado community and executive placements within Colorado, including those specifically in the education field.”


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”