The latest bills

New bill would change rules for “breakfast after the bell”

A bill introduced in the House Tuesday would change existing law governing the “breakfast after the bell” program and likely affect its expansion.

Passed by the 2013 legislature, the law requires that certain schools provide breakfast after the school day starts. The theory behind the law was that students do better in class if they’re not hungry, that some students skip breakfast if it’s offered before school, and that students will be more likely to eat if all others are eating, not just the “poor” kids.

School district lobbyists doggedly fought the bill, arguing that it unnecessarily restricted district flexibility in providing the morning meal and could in some cases impose costs on districts. As finally passed, the law applied to schools with 80 percent or more students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch. The law lowers that threshold to 70 percent starting in the 2015-16 school year.

House Bill 15-1080 would cancel the switch to 70 percent and keep the threshold for the program at 80 percent low income students. The prime sponsors are Rep. Janak Joshi and Sen. Owen Hill, both Colorado Springs Republicans. If the bill survives in the House it may have legs, given that Republicans control the Senate and Hill is chair of the Senate Education Committee.

See this 2014 Chalkbeat Colorado story for details on how districts prepared for the breakfast after the bell requirement.

Two other education-related bill were introduced Tuesday. They are:

House Bill 15-1079 – Removes current restrictions on spending of general fund money on certain teen pregnancy and dropout prevention programs, and extends the repeal date of those programs from 2016 to 2020. Prime sponsors: Reps. Don Corum, R-Montrose and Jesse Danielson, D-Wheat Ridge; Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango

House Bill 15-1081 – Permits “a person” to restrict access to a sex-segregated locker room based on an individual’s actual, biological sex. The backstory here is conservative concern about which locker rooms transgender people can use. The measure has been assigned to House State Affairs, commonly known as the “kill committee.” Democrats have the House majority. Prime sponsor: Rep. Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County, with 10 House Republican cosponsors; no Senate sponsor

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts, sponsor information, fiscal notes and much more detail about every 2015 education bill.


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.”