Friday, May 6, 2011

National Online Teacher of the Year From Colorado

Kristin Kipp was recognized by the State Board of Education last year for being one of two Colorado Online Teacher of the Year. Now the 21st Century Virtual Academy (Jeffco) teacher is the National Online Teacher of the Year and will be recognized by the State Board again next Wednesday at their monthly meeting.

Kristin Kipp recently spent a day at the U.S. Department of Education shadowing the Director of the office of Educational Technology. In her blog, she talks about the unique discussions she was a part of during her day at ED. For example, "teacher heavy" programs that rely more heavily upon the teacher's role over the technology-based curriculum.

Congratulations to Kristin Kipp!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Robert Hammond Named Sole Finalist for Commissioner of Education

This afternoon in a unanimous vote, the Colorado Board of Education voted to name acting-Commissioner, Robert Hammond, as the sole finalist for the Commissioner's position. Hammond has been acting as Commissioner since December 2010 when former Commissioner Dwight Jones left to be the Superintendent for the Las Vegas School District.

Hammond has been at the CO Dept of Education for three years where he served as Deputy Commissioner before being named the Acting Commissioner. According to statutes regulating the hiring of public officials, the State Board is expected to name Hammond as Commissioner when it meets next Wednesday for its regular monthly meeting.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Trial and a Debate

Charter school students participated in a mock trial and a debate at the Charter School Day at the Capitol activities on Thursday.

Students from Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins presented an abbreviated mock trial with Secretary of Scott Gessler acting as judge. A typical mock trial last about two hours while this one only last about 45 minutes. Students from Ridgeview Classical earned state honors this year with their mock trial skills.

Following the mock trial, middle school students from Jefferson Academy and Woodrow Wilson Academy debated the funding of K-12 public education. Attorney General John Suthers judged the debate, which went to Jefferson Academy. The two teams were in the finals of the charter school debate league which ended a couple of months ago.

Charter School Day at the Capitol 2011

These pictures are from the rally on the west steps of the Capitol. The rally was hosted by the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Numerous legislators spoke to the crowd of students, parents, teachers, administrators and guests.

The choir from Belle Creek Charter School in Henderson performed several numbers. Students from Global Village Academy in Aurora danced to a Chinese song. Various charter school administrators and board members also addressed the crowd.

Students visiting the Capitol on Thursday took tours, visited meeting rooms, were guests in the House chamber and were surprised with an opportunity to meet and speak with Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Northeast Academy Students Up to the Challenge

The 7th and 8th grade students at Northeast Academy Charter School (NACS) in Denver had a challenging day. It was Challenge Day. Challenge Day is a program designed to break down cliques, prevent bullying and build positive relationships between students. Today's event was held at the Boys and Girls Club of Denver in Montbello.

Numerous activities had students and adults interacting with people they didn't know by talking and doing activities together. The picture is of students playing a game similar to volleyball. The adults around the perimeter had to keep the ball inside the circle and cheer on the students.

Students are taught to Notice, Change, Act. Later in the day students broke up into small groups to discuss ways they can make a difference in their school and community. The entire day was designed to take people outside their comfort zone. For the couple hours I participated, I was definitely outside of my comfort zone!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Parents Deserve to Know

The State Board of Education has adopted new rules that will require school districts to notify parents when an employee is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor sex crime. The board has been considering this change for quite some time. Chairman Bob Schaffer, Fort Collins, noted the Poudre School District failed to inform parents when two former employees were arrested for crimes involving children. The new rules also cover any adult who transports students when arrested for a DUI.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Administrator's Get Legislative Update from League of Charter Schools

Today at the Administrator's Mentoring Cohort (AMC) meeting, Vinny Badolato, from the League of Charter Schools, gave the following legislative update.

1. Win: HB 1089: Collaboratives. Allows charter schools to seek competitive grants within ESEA.

2. SB 188: Moral obligation program. Charter schools go through the State Treasurer’s office to get better bond financing ratings. The bill would have increased the $400 million cap, but that was removed. The bill removes application fees to enter the program. The manager will be the Treasurer’s office. In case of a default, the Treasurer will consult with a team of impacted entities to determine how to handle the potential default.

3. Loss: HB 1055: Improve charter school access to facilities. Passed the House, assigned to Senate State Affairs where it died. Will be reconsidered for next year.

4. HB 1277: Massey’s omnibus bill. Removes unnecessary reporting requirements including

a. Access to data. Designed to eliminate district’s not providing data to their charter schools in a timely manner.

b. Additional criteria for high risk student definition. Adds “over age and under credit” to the definition. This definition is used to define Alternative Education Campuses (AECs)

c. Grant collaborative. The State Board would be able to promulgate rules to allow collaboratives to be designated as the LEA.

d. School Food Authority. Adds charter schools to the entities permitted to be School Food Authorities. Currently charter schools must access the program through one lead school and that school carries all the liability. There are 18 charter schools under one SFA this year.

e. Online reporting requirements. Eliminates annual report to CDE, which has been replaced by requirements in the Financial Transparency Act and the Education Accountability Act.

5. Budget cuts. Cut proposed now is $22.5 million less. Plus a planned mid-year distribution if the June forecast is better. There will definitely be a cut in K-12 funding again next year.

6. New bill by Senator Keith King to be introduced next week. Proposes mill levy matching funds at a quarter of a percent (CVote). Requires districts to include charter schools if they run a mill levy ballot question.