The Daily Churn: Thursday

Daily Churn logo

Updated 1 p.m.Denver Public Schools officials today announced that enrollment has increased by about 2,200 students, bringing the district’s student count to some 79,500. About half the growth was in the middle school grades. It’s the second straight year of significant district growth (see news release).

Friday is “count day” for most state school districts and charters, the day on which student numbers are tallied for state funding purposes. (There is some flexibility in the count system to include students absent on Friday, and enrollment counting is more complicated than just taking attendance. The CDE manual on enrollment counting runs to 40 pages.)

According to recent local media reports, other districts reporting increases this year include Boulder Valley among larger districts, plus Alamosa, Falcon, Pueblo County, Steamboat Springs and Telluride. Declines have been reported in Pueblo City and Parachute.

Districts have a few weeks after Oct. 1 to verify their figures (and meet all the requirements of that 40-page manual) before they have to report to the state. So, many districts don’t release figures until they’ve double-checked their math. Aurora, for instance, has projected growth of 225 students this year but isn’t yet ready to put a number to the actual increase.

Bob Schaffer, chair of the State Board of Education, told EdNews today, “I’m not anxious” for education Commissioner Dwight Jones to leave. “We owe Dwight quite a lot.”

The Clark County, Nevada, school board Wednesday offered Jones its superintendent job (see story). As Schaffer noted, Jones and the Las Vegas district still need to negotiate a contract.

Schaffer said the state board hasn’t “formally” discussed next steps, “just ideas on a one-to-one basis.” He continued, “I expect if the commissioner leaves we would consider any recommendations he has about succession. … That may entail an interim. We’re not rushing to make plans just yet.” He said it’s “unlikely” any decision about a new commissioner would be made before the end of the year.

What’s churning:

Speculation about Jones’ successor is expected to ramp up quickly in the wake of the Las Vegas decision. Since two incumbents are leaving the State Board of Education, the board is almost certain to ask Jones to recommend an interim commissioner. Who that might be will juice the rumor mill in days to come as well. So far, few names have surfaced as possible permanent replacements for Jones. The most prominent, of course, is Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who, along with Gov. Bill Ritter, is not running for reelection in November. Whether a majority-Republican board would select Democrat O’Brien is an open question, and odds are the board will remain Republican – and perhaps become a bit more conservative – after the election. EdNews questioning of various education insiders today turned up the name of former Littleton Superintendent Stan Scheer, who now heads the Murietta Schools in in Riverside County, California. Stay tuned as more names surface in the coming days and weeks.

Good reads from elsewhere:

  • The empire strikes back: For-profit college supporters rally in D.C.
  • The phantom lunch menace: A California district billed the government $5.6 million for non-existent lunches.
  • Return of the integration plan: Louisville tries integrating by income.
  • Home is where the teacher is: A Denver school’s home visits pay dividends.

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.