Friday Churn: Delaying the pain

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Leaders of Colorado’s largest school district unveiled a proposed 2012-13 budget today that includes no reductions in teachers, librarians or counselors – but they say they’re essentially delaying painful cuts for another year.

“We asked our community what they valued and it was teachers, along with music, arts and teacher librarians,” said Jeffco school board president Lesley Dahlkemper. “I’m pleased to say that we listened and have saved those jobs for at least one more year.”

But Dahlkemper, along with Superintendent Cindy Stevenson and teachers’ union president Kerrie Dallman, agreed the proposal basically delays major budget pain until 2013-14. In Dallman’s words, it “kicks the can down the road” another year.

In the meantime, district leaders said they want to hear from the community about support for a possible tax increase on the November ballot.

Today’s announcement at Lakewood High School follows a second employee summit, held last week, in which representatives of the school board, administration and employee groups met to hammer out a proposal. Jeffco is facing cuts of up to $60 million over the next two years.

Under the plan, Jeffco employees will continue a 3 percent pay cut imposed last year, which includes two furlough days. The district will also pull another $5 million from its reserves. And the popular Outdoor Lab schools will continue for another year with support from the Outdoor Lab Foundation.

“While we are able to save jobs and programs for one more year, that’s not the case for the 2013-14 school year,” Dahlkemper said. “We are looking at a loss of more than 600 jobs, including teachers, teacher librarians, music teachers and counselors – everything that our community holds dear.”

The board, which has final approval of the proposal, is expected to begin discussions in March.

Check back later today for more on this story.

Bob Schaffer, Republican chair of the State Board of Education, was among a parade of witnesses who testified Thursday before the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee, which is considering updates to the No Child Left Behind law.

There were lots of witnesses, but Schaffer didn’t get a mention in this wrap-up post by our partners at EdWeek.

But Schaffer’s comments did get referenced in Twitter posts about the hearing. And the Department of Education issued a news release today summarizing Schaffer’s remarks. According to the release, “Chairman Schaffer talked about Colorado’s value of parental involvement, options for choice for families and the value of having local control for important decisions.”

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.