As the state of Colorado is gradually moving closer to “re-opening” the historic and unprecedented circumstances caused by Coronavirus will linger, posing significant threats across levels of education from the statehouse to the classrooms. This week’s Stay Sharp Digest includes our recent panel discussions on the topics of supporting students in the transition to higher education, and district leaders responding to budget decisions, a community spotlight, and resources to track local school boards. Read more in our latest Stay Sharp Covid Digest below.
What do we really know about online education Online, virtual programs are inevitable in response to COVID-19 and decisions regarding learning environments moving forward require nuanced consideration. We have summarized some of the research that exists and make recommendations for how districts can offer quality, student-centered online, virtual programming for the next school year in response to COVID-19.
Legislative Council Staff and the Office of Planning and Budgeting delivered updated economic and revenue forecasts. With an expected 25% reduction in overall revenue, in addition to other factors, a $3.3 billion shortfall in the state budget is expected heading into next year. Additionally, based on projected declines in local shares and mill levy overrides, significant impacts for education funding is expected. Given this landscape and the ensuing cuts to services and programs, A+ joined 40 organizations in Colorado calling for federal support for local and state governments.
On May 11th, A+ Colorado joined with Democrats For Education Reform, and Erica Breunlin from the Colorado Sun for “Schooling in the Era of Covid-19: Ensuring Successful Transitions for Juniors and Seniors”. This event featured panelists; Joseph Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System; Dr. Angie Pacccione, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education; Dr. Wendy Birzhanzel, Superintendent of Harrison School District 2; and Nathan Cadena, Chief Operating Officer of the Denver Scholarship Foundation. Their conversation covered a range of topics including how their organizations have pivoted in the midst of Covid-19, supporting graduating seniors in steps towards enrollment at institutions of higher education, and continued engagement with students over the summer months, and online learning for students.
As Colorado faces a $896M deficit this year, and $3.3B general fund shortfall in FY20-21, school districts are bracing for budget cuts. A+ Colorado joined Democrats For Education Reform, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and the Colorado Education Initiative to host “Schooling in the Era of COVID-19: Smart School District Budget Management in the Context of Reduced Education Revenues.” Panelists included Dr. Marguerite Roza, from Georgetown University; Glenn Gustafson, Deputy Superintendent and CFO of Colorado Springs School District 11; Shari Davis, Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project; and Erik Johnson, the former CFO of Denver Public Schools. Their discussion focused on the economic realities that will face school districts, participatory budgeting processes, student voice, and ensuring equitable distribution of resources as communities, schools and districts recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Survey from Colorado Department of Education on CARES Dollars:
The Colorado Department of Education submitted an application to the CARES Act Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) through the U.S. Department of Education. The state has been allocated close to $121 million of which at least 90% of funds will go to local education agencies (LEAs) based on 2019-20 Title I shares. The remaining 10% may be reserved at the state level for statewide support to LEAs in response to COVID or to provide additional grant opportunities for LEAs. The Colorado Department of Education has launched a stakeholder survey to gather input on how CDE should use the 10% in state reserve funds under ESSER. The survey will remain open through Monday, May 18.
DPS – Reimagine the School Performance Framework Committee Update:
On May 1, DPS’ Reimagine the SPF Committee released its report and recommendations regarding the SPF framework. The DPS Board is scheduled to take public comments regarding the Committee’s recommendations May 18, May 21, and June 11 prior to voting on the recommendations at the June 11 public hearing. Community feedback is vital as the Board takes further action on the Committee’s recommendations and an online survey is available in addition to live testimony during the public comment periods referenced above.
A community resource designed to keep a sharp eye on the Denver Public School Board; Boardhawk shares news, commentary, and information from a variety of perspectives throughout the Colorado education ecosystem. Follow along to stay in the loop on the latest community-based commentary, and advocacy-focused coverage of Denver Public Schools and its Board of Education.
Colorado Classroom – Read With Me at Home
Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Education Initiative are partnering with Rocky Mountain Public Media (RMPBS, KUVO JAZZ, The DROP) to provide K-3 learners, and their families and caregivers with direct-to-home remote literacy learning though “Colorado Classroom – Read With Me at Home” starting May 18. This program is designed to provide high-quality, standards-aligned literacy instruction for K-3 learners across Colorado.
What we’re reading, watching, and listening to…
Stephen Fusco, Vice President of Policy and Research
Reading: Welcoming The Unwelcome by Pema Chodron; Transformative Leadership in Education by Carolyn Shields; Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity by Margaret Wheatley
Watching: Dead to Me, Good Girls, Killing Eve
Listening to: Unlocking Us by Brene Brown, Supersoul Sunday by Oprah Whinfrey, Ben Platt, Jess Glynne, Sia
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