Matt Gianneschi, Gov. Bill Ritter’s top staff advisor on education issues, is leaving the governor’s office to take an administrative job at the Community College of Aurora.

According to an e-mail distributed Tuesday by CCA President Linda Bowman, Gianneschi has been selected as vice president for student services and enrollment management.

Matt Gianneschi
Matt Gianneschi

Gianneschi told EdNews he felt the CCA job was a good opportunity for him because “my background’s in student services and enrollment. … For me it was a really nice fit.” He noted that he lives next to the campus and that his wife works in the Aurora schools.

He expects to start at CCA in mid-December but said he’ll continue advising the governor’s office on the state’s application for a federal Race to the Top grant until that’s finished in January.

Asked who might succeed him, Gianneschi said, “I don’t know what their plans are.”

He played a central role in the crafting of 2008’s Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, a multi-year reform program that calls for new state content standards, an updated testing system, clear definitions of both school readiness and postsecondary and workforce readiness, special kinds of high school diplomas and greater integration of K-12 and higher education.

On CAP4K, “For me that was probably the biggest thing we were able to accomplish.” But, he added, “a close second was the concurrent enrollment legislation” passed last spring. That law will create a uniform statewide program that students can use to take college classes while still in high school. “It was very gratifying.”

Gianneschi also was the primary staff coordinator of governor’s P-20 Education Coordinating Council, a group that met in 2007 and 2008 to advise the governor on education policy and proposals. The panel has been largely inactive this summer and fall while the administration focused on preparing the state’s application for

At the beginning of Ritter’s term in office the administration also worked to increase college and university funding and to bolster state support of preschool and full-day kindergarten.

However, the recession and resulting state revenue losses forced the administration and the legislature to focus on budget cutting during the 2009 session and left no money for significant new education initiatives. The 2010 session is expected to be even tougher, and Ritter has had to propose 6.1 percent cuts in K-12 spending and juggling of federal stimulus funds to maintain higher ed funding.

Before joining Ritter’s staff, Gianneschi was chief academic officer for the Department of Higher Education and previously worked for the Daniels Fund and in admissions for the University of Puget Sound and the University of Denver.

Gianneschi was affiliated with Ritter’s campaign during the second half of 2006 and helped advise the candidate on higher education issues and development of Ritter’s “Colorado Promise.” He joined Ritter’s statehouse staff in January 2007.

Another education advisor who joined the Ritter team early on was David Skaggs, who ran the Department of Higher Education until leaving earlier this fall.

Ken Turner of the Colorado Department of Education
Ken Turner of the Colorado Department of Education

Gianneschi is the third education policymaker to leave his job in the last

Julie Carnahan
Julie Carnahan

few days. Ken Turner, deputy commissioner at the Department of Education, announced his retirement on Monday. And, Julie Carnahan, chief academic officer at the Department of Higher Education, has announced her resignation effective Dec. 4.

The CAP4K law calls for close cooperation between the two departments on several issues, and Turner and Carnahan were the point people for their agencies in that work.