Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed the bill known as "Breakfast After the Bell" into law.
The law means that schools with higher levels of impoverished children will be required — with some exceptions — to serve a free breakfast to all students after the start of the school day. Such programs have been shown to radically increase participation, and lawmakers note that children perform better after eating something in the morning.
Still the bill hasn't seen support from all corners.
Some school districts, including Colorado Springs School District 11, have complained that the bill does not provide additional funding for implementing the program. They say federal reimbursements won't cover the costs of Breakfast After the Bell, meaning it could hurt other nutrition programs. Read more here.
Hick Signs ‘Breakfast After the Bell’
(May 15) — A bill to help make sure more Colorado schoolkids get a decent breakfast was signed into law today by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The governor went to Rose Hill Elementary School in Commerce City today to sign HB13-1006, sponsored by Reps. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City) and Tony Exum Sr. (D-Colorado Springs). The bill will phase in a requirement that schools where at least 80 percent of the students qualify for federal free or reduced-cost lunch will serve breakfast to all students after the official start of school.
Hungry children don’t learn as well as their better-fed peers, but many students who qualify for existing before-school breakfast programs don’t get to school in time to eat, some of them because of the stigma of acknowledging that their families are too poor to feed them. When the Adams 14 School District went from school breakfast before the bell to an after-the-bell meal, the participation rate went from 30 percent to 98 percent.
“Breakfast after the bell gives students from low-income families an equal chance to learn and succeed,” said Rep. Moreno, who qualified for free in-school meals on his way to becoming valedictorian of his high school class.
By serving breakfast during attendance-taking and announcements, schools that have already initiated Breakfast After the Bell have been able to do it with no reduction in instruction time.
“This is a significant part of making sure our students get a good education,” Rep. Exum said.
The vast majority of the cost of Breakfast After the Bell is covered by an existing federal program.
Colorado Springs School District 11's extensive summer feeding program will continue this year.
Anyone ages 1 to 18 is invited to eat free at one of many locations — both in neighborhoods and schools. All locations will serve lunch, but only some will serve breakfast.
For a list of locations and hours, check out their press release here: News_Release-FNS-Summer_Program-5-13-13-1.pdf
——- ORIGINAL POST, MAY 7, 5:24 P.M. ——-
Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? This summer, the meal's free to kids all season long in Harrison School District 2.
Such programs are vital in poorer areas, where children often rely on free school breakfasts and lunches for their nutrition. Expert organizations like Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado have long called summer the hungriest time of the year, because kids can no longer rely on school meal programs.
Read on for more information on Harrison's program:
Any child under the age of 18 currently living in Harrison School District 2 will have access to free meals twice a day this summer.
The Harrison School District Nutrition Services announces the sponsorship of the Summer Food
Service Program. Free meals will be made available to children 18 years of age and younger.
Otero Elementary School
1650 Charmwood, Colorado Springs CO
Centennial Elementary School
1860 S Chelton, Colorado Springs CO
Session One: June 4- June 28, 2013
Session Two: July 9- August 2, 2013
Breakfast: 8:15 - 9:00am
Lunch: 12:15 - 12:45pm
Breakfast and Lunch will be served daily, Monday through Friday. Adult meals are available for
Now, if you're an out-of-state-but-a-citizen-of-these-United States-yet-can't-obtain-residency-status-until-two-years-so-paying-high-tuition student like myself, then you no doubt shook your head in frustration as you made your student loan payment this month. And with the national student loan debt having crested $1 trillion, it's even more apparent now that we need deals on our education.
I, like so many are already setting out to do, was ready to begin beating the war drums demanding my tuition be lowered. I wanted to scream it from mountaintop that I deserve to be considered for in-state tuition as well. But once the caffeine in my system had diminished, I read article after article to further understand the gist of the bill. And after reading the actual bill (and not what other people thought the bill to be), I understood the various hoops through which undocumented immigrants have to leap to even be considered for in-state tuition.
(See attached pdf for actual bill:)
Here are a few stipulations to be considered:
1) The student must've attended three years of high school, or attained a GED in the state of Colorado.
2) The student must attend a college or university within 18 months of finishing high school.
3) The student must have applied for legal presence in the state.
These are among a plethora of other requirements that U.S. citizens don't have to go through.
Referred to as ASSET (Advanced Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) bill, SB 033 makes Colorado one of 12 or so states to embrace such legislation. I've read that the bill makes Colorado a "haven" for undocumented immigrants, and that is bypasses the rights of citizens. But in my reading, the reality is it does nothing to compromise the level of education in colleges and universities.
Through this bill, Colorado embraces student longevity and opportunity for those that don't have it in their homeland. Lets face it: It's not like undocumented immigrants are getting a free education. I, for one, think that there is enough brain-learning to accommodate anyone. And personally, I would like to welcome undocumented immigrants to the world of student loans.
This means lots of local money and, naturally, lots of students, with plenty of charming college complaints and observations. Luckily, those pupils already have a dedicated public platform: @OnlyAtUCCS.
(The Twitter account just makes me feel old. Back in my days at UCCS, Facebook had just come out. My first profile picture? An image from South Park that read "Don't fuck with Wendy Testaburger!")
With 455 followers and 221 tweets, the account's well-stocked with snippets of mountain lion life, some of which are more universal than the account can claim:
@onlyatuccs Pretty sure I just paid $5.22 at the bookstore for a single pencil...😳 #whatthe #UCCSprobs
— Shae Lynn (@toushae12) May 8, 2013
Email from Sallie Mae, offering a credit card: "helps pay down your student loans".Entrapment or double jeopardy? @onlyatuccs
— Ryan Johnson (@RyTriGuy) April 30, 2013
From issues uniquely UCCS-related, like parking ...
@onlyatuccs will your friend get a boot on her car when she is in four diamonds and has no prior fines! #whatthehell #areyouserious
— Lauren Murphy(@LaurenNicole735) May 2, 2013
@onlyatuccs Do you want to graduate just so that you can get away from having to find parking. Oh, and also tests. Obviously.
— Emily Bellizio (@emilybo_bemily) May 2, 2013
... and its weird weather-cancellation record ...
Finally gets another snow day, not really any actual snow...so is this technically a "wind day"? 😏 #nocomplaint #OnlyAtUCCS
— Only At UCCS (@OnlyAtUCCS) April 9, 2013
Today is our karma for having a snowday when there was no such snow. #UCCSprobs
— Only At UCCS (@OnlyAtUCCS) April 17, 2013
... to those tweets that remind everyone that, hello,
your you're still learning:
@onlyatuccs is their a couple that passes notes in class like they're in middle school
— Savannah Mahoney (@mahoneys1340) April 16, 2013
Ah yes, there is much to look forward to.
On Saturday, Democratic Rep. Tony Exum Sr. will be holding a town hall to discuss the School Finance Reform Act.
From the Denver Post:
The new finance formula would revise the way money is distributed to schools, with greater emphasis on at-risk students and English-language learners and increased transparency in the way funds are spent. It would go into effect only with passage of an initiative for a $1.1 billion tax increase.
Exum is the first-term representative for Colorado Springs' House District 17, which covers the southeastern past of the city.
He will be speaking for an hour, starting at 10:30 in the morning at Sand Creek Library, 1821 S. Academy Boulevard (map here).
I grew up a stereotype.
Too tall for my age, with bushy hair and bad fashion sense, I tended to walk down school hallways with my nose quite literally in a book. And yes, I did occasionally run into open locker doors.
Needless to say, I was one of those rare kids who took easily to the library. I loved the quiet. I loved the brainy librarians. I even loved the card catalogue. Here was a place that I could go and be left alone with my books.
And I do mean alone.
But the modern school library isn't the quiet affair that it once was, and many educators say that's a good thing. Libraries — including local ones — have gotten louder and more creative, drawing kids with programs on blogging and creating webpages.
The Colorado Department of Education just handed out 14 awards for "Highly Effective School Libraries" statewide. Three went to Colorado Springs School District 11. Only Jeffco Public Schools received more honors. That's certainly worth an "atta boy" — even if the nerd in me is a little sad to see the quiet sanctuary of the school library go the way of the dinosaur.
Colorado recognizes 14 Highly Effective School Libraries
Today’s most effective libraries are centers of activity with students sharing ideas and creating online displays of what they’re learning. Those are hallmarks of the 14 Highly Effective School Library honorees announced today by the Colorado Department of Education.
In comparison with libraries in past decades, which were associated with keeping quiet, reading, and maintaining order, today’s school libraries are the interactive hub of the school. They are places where active learning and inquiry are encouraged and explored. Students at these recognized libraries created blogs during an argumentative writing unit, created web pages to demonstrate learning in a science unit and offered constructive peer feedback to one another using Google comments.
“Twenty-first century skills are an essential component in education today, and effective school libraries and librarians are critical links for attaining these skills,” said Eugene Hainer, assistant commissioner and state librarian at CDE. “Students can benefit from the district’s support of these highly effective programs and the staff in the honored libraries.”
Prior to applying, each teacher-librarian, along with their respective principal, assessed their library program using the “Highly Effective School Library Program Evaluation Rubric.” This assessment tool outlines what a quality school library program should look like in areas such as student and teacher collaboration, differentiated instruction, curriculum development and leadership both within and outside the school community.
State and national studies conducted over the past two decades show that students in schools with endorsed librarians score better on standardized achievement tests in reading, compared with students in schools without endorsed librarians. The presence of school librarians positively impacted students’ standardized reading scores even when controlling for student poverty (free and reduced-cost meals). Even if schools had overall staff declines between 2004 and 2008, students’ standardized reading scores were better in schools that maintained or gained a licensed librarian.
Go to www.lrs.org/documents/school/school_library_impact.jpg to view a complete list of the study and its findings.
Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond will recognize the 14 libraries at the April State Board of Education meeting.
The Highly Effective School Library 2013 recipients are:
• Bennett High School, Bennett School District
• Bill Roberts ECE-8 School, Denver Public Schools
• Chipeta Elementary, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Deane Elementary, Jeffco Public Schools
• Eaglecrest High School, Cherry Creek Schools
• East Middle School, Mesa County Valley School District 51
• Holmes Middle School, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Horizon High School, Adams 12 Five Star Schools
• Ken Caryl Middle School, Jeffco Public Schools
• Martinez Elementary, Colorado Springs School District 11
• Ralston Elementary & Parmalee Elementary, Jeffco Public Schools
• Ryan Elementary, Boulder Valley School District
• Thomas Jefferson High School, Denver Public Schools
Upset parents will get a chance to recall six members of the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder's Office announced today.
After some initial problems, the clerk approved the petitions to recall all the members of the board except Bob Null.
The three parents leading the effort are upset about recent school closures, including the decision to close Wasson High School, and related issues. They will need to collect 15,000 verified signatures per board member over the next 60 days in order to force an election.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Approves D11 Recall Petitions for Circulation
(March 7, 2013 — Colorado Springs, Colo.) —El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams approved as to form petitions submitted to recall six of seven Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education Directors (Nora Brown, Al Loma, LuAnn Long, Sandra Mann, Elaine Naleski, and Jan Tanner). The Recall Committee may now circulate the petitions for no more than 60 days. A minimum of 15,000 verified petition signatures are required for each of the petitions.
Petitions were initially submitted on Feb. 28 and, after review, were disapproved as to form on March 4. The Recall Committee members, including Mariam Kurvink, Elaine Shoemaker, and Dorothy Dykes, submitted revised petitions March 5.
The Clerk & Recorder is the Designated Election Official (DEO) in school board recalls. Recall petitions are submitted to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office for approval as to form. The Clerk’s Office has until the close of the seventh business day following submission to approve or disapprove a petition for circulation.
Once the DEO receives a signed petition, it is reviewed and verified against the registration records. The petition review must be completed no later than 15 business days after the initial filing of the petition. If the petition is deemed sufficient, a 15-day protest period begins. If a protest is filed, a hearing is set and is heard by the DEO. The hearing shall be concluded within 30 days after the protest is filed.
If the recall petition’s sufficiency is sustained, a date for the election is set. The recall election date shall be from 45 days to 75 days after the recall petition has been deemed sufficient and the time for protest has passed. Nomination petitions for successor candidates may be circulated beginning the first date on which a protest may be filed and must be filed no later than 10 calendar days after the DEO sets the election date. Nomination petitions are taken out at the office of the DEO.
The timeline below for the recall process shows estimated dates only. All dates are subject to change depending on when/if protests are filed, how many are filed and the length of time for the Clerk’s office to complete each step.
3/07/13 — Petition approved for circulation
3/08/13 — First day to circulate the petitions
5/06/13 — Last day to file petitions with Clerk & Recorder
5/28/13 — Petition review complete and notice of appearance of sufficiency or insufficiency issued
6/12/13 — If petition is sufficient 15 day protest period ends on this day
6/21/13 — Last day to hold a hearing if protest filed on last day
7/12/13 — Final day for hearing decision
8/26/13 to 9/25/13 — If sufficiency sustained on last day, election date set between 45 and 75 days from 7/12/13
The school district is responsible for reimbursement to the Office of the Clerk & Recorder for reasonable expenses incurred in performing duties relating to the recall of an incumbent of the political subdivision. The 2006 recall election involving District 11 cost $256,729.22.
# # #
As expected, concerned parents have made needed changes to their D-11 recall petitions and resubmitted them.
EL PASO COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER RECEIVES REVISED SUBMISSION OF D11 RECALL PETITIONS
[March 5, 2013 — Colorado Springs, CO] — The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office today received a revised submission of petitions to recall six of seven Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education Directors (Nora Brown, Al Loma, LuAnn Long, Sandra Mann, Elaine Naleski, and Jan Tanner). The initial petitions were submitted on Feb. 28 and, after review, were disapproved as to form on March 4. The Recall Committee Members include: Mariam Kurvink, Elaine Shoemaker and Dorothy Dykes.
The Clerk & Recorder is the Designated Election Official (DEO) in school board recalls. Recall petitions are submitted to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office for approval as to form. The Clerk’s Office has until the close of the seventh business day following submission to approve or disapprove a petition for circulation. Once approved, the petition may be circulated for no more than sixty days. A minimum of 15,000 petition signatures are required for each of the School District 11 Board Directors.
El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams has refused all six recall petitions, though will slight changes they can be resubmitted for approval.
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Disapproves D-11 Recall Petitions Committee members may revise and resubmit petitions
[March 4, 2013 — Colorado Springs, CO] — El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams has disapproved as to form all six recall petitions filed Feb. 28, 2013 against directors of the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education, including Nora Brown, Al Loma, LuAnn Long, Sandra Mann, Elaine Naleski, and Jan Tanner. Williams today notified recall committee members and the subjects of the recall efforts of the findings after two working days of review. Committee members (Mariam Kurvink, Elaine Shoemaker, and Dorothy Dykes)may revise and resubmit the petitions for approval.
Williams explained, “The findings, while important, were relatively small issues we believe the committee can correct rather quickly. We anticipate the committee will return the petitions for ultimate approval to begin circulation for signatures. Our office works diligently to facilitate citizens’ rights as outlined by the State Constitution.”
The Clerk & Recorder is the Designated Election Official (DEO) in school board recalls. A recall petition is submitted to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office for approval as to form. The clerk’s office has until the close of the seventh business day following submission to approve or disapprove a petition for circulation. Once approved, the petition may be circulated for no more than sixty days. A minimum of 15,000 petition signatures are required for each of the Colorado Springs School District 11 Board of Education directors.
——- ORIGINAL POST, Friday, 12:11 P.M. ——-
Parents upset that the Colorado Springs District 11 Board of Education has voted to close two elementary schools and Wasson High School are fighting back.
Parents will petition for a recall election challenging the seats of all board members, except Bob Null. Null fought to keep Wasson open.
In addition to closures, parents are upset that the board decided Wednesday to sell two closed schools. Irving Education Center, which was just slated for closure, and Jefferson Elementary, which was closed in 2009, will bring in more than $7 million. That's led some to question whether the true motivation for recent closures was a big pay-off.
The district denies the accusation and has given other reasons for the closures.
El Paso County Clerk & Recorder Receives 6 Recall Petitions for D11 Board of Education Directors
February 28, 2013 - This afternoon, El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams received six recall petitions for Directors of the District 11 Board of Education. The recall petitions were filed against the following Board Directors: Elaine Naleski, Nora Brown, Al Loma, Sandra Mann, Luann Long and Jan Tanner. The Recall Committee Members include: Mariam Kurvink, Elaine Shoemaker and Dorothy Dykes.
The Clerk & Recorder is the Designated Election Official (DEO) in school board recalls. A recall petition is submitted to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office for approval as to form. The Clerk’s Office has until the close of the seventh business day following submission to approve or disapprove a petition for circulation. Once approved, the petition may be circulated for no more than sixty days. A minimum of 15,000 petition signatures are required for each of the School District 11 Board Directors.
Once the DEO receives the signed petition, it is reviewed and verified against the registration records. The petition review must be completed no later than fifteen business days after the initial filing of the petition. If the petition is deemed sufficient, the 15 day protest period begins. If a protest is filed, a hearing is set and is heard by the DEO. The hearing shall be concluded within thirty days after the protest is filed.
If the recall petition’s sufficiency is sustained, a date for the election is set. The recall election date shall be from forty-five days to seventy-five days after the recall petition has been deemed sufficient and the time for protest has passed. Nomination petitions for successor candidates may be circulated beginning the first date on which a protest may be filed and must be filed no later than ten calendar days after the DEO sets the election date. Nomination petitions are taken out at the office of the DEO.
If the recall petitions received by the Clerk and Recorder were to be approved on March 1, 2013, and the maximum time was taken for each portion of the recall process, this is a tentative schedule for the process:
3/01/13 — Petition approved for circulation
4/30/13 — Last day to file petition with Clerk & Recorder
5/21/13 — Petition review complete and notice of appearance of sufficiency or insufficiency issued
6/05/13 — If petition is sufficient 15 day protest period ends on this day
6/14/13 — Last day to hold a hearing if protest filed on last day
7/12/13 — Final day for hearing decision
8/26/13 to 9/25/13 — If sufficiency sustained on last day, election date set between 45 and 75 days from 7/12/13
The School District is responsible for reimbursement to the Office of the Clerk & Recorder for reasonable expenses incurred by the County Clerk and Recorder in performing duties relating to the recall of an incumbent of the political subdivision. The 2006 recall election involving District 11 cost $256,729.22.
Now, it seems that may not be the case after all. Earlier this month, the Falcon School District 49 Board of Education unanimously approved a plan to make Sand Creek High School a School of Innovation. The plan will now move on to the Colorado Board of Education for final approval.
According to a press release, Sand Creek students will have the opportunity to participate in specialized programs, or “pathways,” if the plan is approved. For instance, “A media and communications pathway will focus on developing career-ready skills in the tech, graphic design and marketing industries and will include dual credit options with area universities,” it stated. Other pathways include one for visual and performing arts, and another for engineering and technology.
Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis are the proud parents of five kids: a 9-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl, and 6-year-old triplets.
When the triplets were born, it appeared they had two boys, Max and Coy, and one girl, Lily. But by the time the kids were 18 months old, that equation was being called into question.
While Max was the typical boy — his current obsession is dinosaurs — Coy liked princess dresses and high heels. The Mathises tried to appease Coy, buying pink boys' clothes, but by the time the child entered school it was becoming clear that this wasn't just a phase.
Coy threw fits when asked to put on boys' clothes to go on outings. The child was teased by peers when she insisted that she was a girl. One day, Coy came home completely devastated that her teacher had moved her from the "girls' line" to the "boys' line" during a classroom activity.
"She came home and said, 'My teacher doesn’t even know that I’m a girl!'” Kathryn remembers.
That was the last straw. The family headed to the doctor and the psychologist, who told them that they needed to let Coy be herself. Given that Coy had always acted in a feminine matter, no one in the family was particularly surprised or upset.
“I don't think there was any kind of loss of a son," Kathryn says. "We just gained an awesome daughter."
While some would say that 6 is very young to go through such a situation, Kathryn notes that discussions about gender-reassignment surgery or pills that can delay puberty (and the changes to the body that come with it) are still a long, long way off. Right now, they're just letting Coy be Coy.
“I just think back to when I was a child and no one had to tell me I was a girl," Kathryn says. "I knew I was a girl.”
Besides, Kathryn notes, Coy is a triplet, and though her other children were raised under the exact same conditions, neither of the others was transgendered. This, she believes, is innate to Coy.
So in September 2011, the family met with school administrators at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain to discuss the situation. Kathryn remembers being blown away at how accepting they were of her child.
That year, Coy transitioned to being a girl. She wore girls' clothes, stood in girls' lines and went to the girls' bathroom. It was the happiest Kathryn had ever seen her child. Coy became bubbly and enthusiastic, and her grades shot up. She also made friends who were accepting of her differences. Parents were equally understanding.
So Kathryn says it was a big surprise when school officials contacted her in December to say that Coy would no longer be allowed to use the girls' restroom. Kathryn says she was told that there had been no problems with Coy, but school officials were concerned that problems would crop up later when Coy was in middle school and high school, and they didn't want to set a precedent.
Kathryn called a lawyer, hopeful the situation could be resolved without involving Coy. She asked the school district to allow Coy to keep using the girls' restroom while the lawyers worked out the issue. The district refused. In response, Kathryn has pulled all of her children out of school and is home schooling them.
She's also taking legal action.
Tomorrow, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund will hold a press conference at the Capitol Building to announce the filing of a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on Coy's behalf. It will be the first case looked at under the Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act involving bathroom use by a transgender person.
In the meantime, Coy is eager to get back to school. She has been mostly separated from her friends, and Kathryn says her daughter is lonely.
In the last few days, however, Coy has had plenty of company — from the media.
Kathryn says she was initially hesitant to bring her story forward, but she eventually felt it was the right thing to do. Coy has appeared on Katie Couric's show and on CNN, and is expected to be featured heavily in local media.
Here's a release that went out Tuesday that promises to up the profile of Coy's story.
Colorado Family to Announce Complaint Alleging School Discrimination Against Transgender Child
Legal Complaint Alleges Six-Year-Old Transgender Girl Denied Access to Girls' Bathrooms at School
DENVER, CO - The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) will hold a press conference on Wednesday, February 27, on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building to announce the filing of a Complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who has been barred from using the girls’ bathrooms at her elementary school. For the past year, Coy Mathis, a first-grader at Eagleside Elementary School in Fountain, CO, has used the girls’ bathrooms. In mid-December 2012, the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 informed her parents that Coy would be prevented from using the girls’ bathrooms after winter break. The District ordered Coy to use the boys’ bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse’s bathroom. This is the first case to challenge a restriction on a transgender person’s bathroom use under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Wednesday, February 27, 11:00 am
WHERE: West Steps of the Colorado State Capitol Building, 200 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado
WHO: TLDEF Executive Director Michael D. Silverman; Kathryn Mathis, Jeremy Mathis, six-year-old Coy Mathis and siblings, community members.
WHY: “We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student ,” said Kathryn Mathis, Coy’s mother. “Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender.”
“By forcing Coy to use a different bathroom than all the other girls, Coy’s school is targeting her for stigma, bullying and harassment,” said Michael Silverman, TLDEF’s executive director, and one of Coy’s lawyers. “Through the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Coloradans have made it clear that they want all Colorado children to have a fair and equal chance in school,” he added. “Coy’s school has the opportunity to turn this around and teach Coy’s classmates a valuable lesson about friendship, respect and basic fairness.”
At the beginning of Ray Oldenburg’s 1989 publication, The Great Good Place, he quotes Max Lerner talking about the “quest for community” in his 1957 writing, America as a Civilization. This “quest for community” is at the heart of a gracefully working society. In his book, Oldenburg discusses how we fulfill it, through what is called “the third place,” that is, places we spend our time other than work or home. According to him, these places are where we level in class, form communication skills through informal conversation, meet friends, relax our “professional” selves, and overall … have fun!
In laymen’s terms, Oldenburg is telling us to go to the bar, the coffee shop, the bookstore, the hair salon, and in the case of Colorado Springs… the library?!
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, El Pomar Foundation approved the Pikes Peak Library District for a $750,000 challenge grant to go to the Penrose location. PPLD plans to use this money to become one of these “third places” by "providing exactly what you need, in the format you desire, at the very moment it will benefit you most," and, as long as they are able to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million by Jan. 1, 2016, it sure looks like they’ll be able to.
Already, the library has been working toward becoming a 21st century library (http://ppld.org/21stCenturyLibrary.) Renovations are being made to existing buildings; a completely new location is being opened in 2014 at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive; improvements to teen areas are in the works; and a series of rearrangements with offices, special collections and Adult Literacy departments will allow for a more efficient use of space. The East Library will open its entire second floor as a mammoth creative computer commons. Sounds like a media wonderland.
I spoke with PPLD spokesperson Travis Duncan, and Dolores Fowler, executive officer of the PPLD Foundation. Both seemed ecstatic about the new coming improvements. When asked about how they planned to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million Duncan said, “It’s a challenge we are putting to the community for the 21st century library. We want the community to get involved, and to tell us what they want to see.”
Fowler mentioned “strengthening a real partnership between the library and the community, families and friends, more grant writing, offering opportunities to sponsor or donate items, name rooms, naming the coming creative computer commons, and much more. “
The board voted 6-1 in favor of the closures, with Bob Null casting the dissenting vote.
The following is a statement released last night by Superintendent Nicholas Gledich:
Tonight the School District 11 Board of Education voted on the recommendations brought forward by staff as a result of the Optimization of Utilization Plan. The final vote this evening was in favor of the following:
· Consolidate from five to four comprehensive high schools, close Wasson High School and integrate students into Coronado, Doherty, Mitchell, and Palmer.
· Open an Early College, Career, and Alternative Education Center at the Wasson location; consolidate current alternative, career pathway, and adult and family education programs.
o This consideration provides a single location for D11 alternative programs: Tesla, Bijou, Night School, Digital, Achieve K-12, Homebound and Home School, Adult and Family Education, and Career Pathway programs (including auto, hospitality, medical, and ProStart).
· Resolve the Monroe Elementary School detached boundary. There is no impact on students.
· Close Bates Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School; integrate students into Jackson, Edison, Audubon, and Fremont Elementary Schools
As a result of this vote, many District 11 students, families, and employees will face some significant change next school year. During the Board’s comments tonight, board members remarked on what a difficult challenge it is to close schools, but that they have to be wise stewards of taxpayer funds, while also working to ensure District 11 provides the best quality education for all students. I echo their thoughts tonight, as this has been one of the most difficult processes I’ve ever had to consider as a superintendent.
Board members also discussed the Optimization of Utilization procedure that was used to gather public input, and remarked on the inclusivity and opportunity given for public feedback. Both the Board of Education and I are grateful for all of the community members who took the time to give us feedback and ask questions during this process. The feedback was used as part of the criteria to form the recommendations and will be incorporated in how we will move forward to implement the plan and address needs. Thank you for your help in that process, it was very valuable to both the Board and me.
In light of the vote this evening, I know the coming months may be filled with many questions from our D11 families as to what happens next. I have directed all district staff to work closely together over the next few months to communicate needs and ideas, ensuring a smooth transition for all impacted students and families. Through diligent attention to details, sensitivity to those impacted by changes, and effort to prepare students for a world yet to be imagined, I know District 11 will become even stronger and continue to provide the highest quality education to all students.
Dr. Nicholas M. Gledich
Superintendent of Schools
The following details come courtesy of Wasson PTA president Fred Crofford:
On Tuesday, 05 February, at 3PM, The Wasson PTA, Wasson alumni, concerned citizens, Wasson students and Mr. Rick "Goose" Gossage will be meeting at the T-Bird located behind Wasson High School. Then at 3:30 the "Walk for Wasson" will commence and travel , as a show of solidarity, to the School District Administrative building. .
This event will be a peaceful demonstration to show the District and School Board Members that closing Wasson is a mistake and that doing so will sacrifice the 950 students currently attending Wasson. We believe other more beneficial alternatives have been made and should be considered before closing a school with a rich history like Roy J. Wasson High School..
But Wasson supporters, including alumnus and Major League great Goose Gossage, are speaking out now. They say they will reveal "the truth" about the planned closure at a press conference at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Jan. 29, in front of Wasson.
At this point they aren't revealing much about their agenda, but expect some questioning of the Board's motives.
In the eight months since online education site Coursera started up, some 2.5 million people have used it to take university-level classes in everything from computer science to Aboriginal culture.
Courses generally range from six to 10 weeks, and there are hundreds to sign up for. You can, for instance, study music improvisation with jazz legend Gary Burton, take artificial intelligence or equine nutrition classes from the University of Edinburgh, or explore the social context of mental health and illness with University of Toronto professor Charmaine Williams.
While I haven’t personally taken any classes yet, a friend who’s a math professor in Europe recently posted online about the experience:
“I have never seen online math presentations quite like the ones in my class. (The University of Pennsylvania professor who teaches the class estimates it takes 20 hours to produce each 15 minute lecture.) While it seems you can take a class and do nothing more than watch the videos and get something out of it, in reality these courses — or at least the one I am taking — are not meant for the casual learner. My class is broken up into 5 topics, each topic consisting of a series of lectures. Each lecture is a 15 minute video. There are a total of 57 lectures in all. So we are talking a real commitment.
“In addition, each lecture includes a homework assignment that is automatically corrected upon submission. Videos often require multiple viewings in order to fully get the material and do the homeworks. In addition, there is an exam at the end of each topic. There is a deadline for taking exams and handing in homeworks. There will also be a final. The homeworks have taken me about an hour apiece. I expect a lot of the students are spending much more time than I am.
“At the moment you cannot get course credit, at least nothing that will transfer to another university. But once that day comes, I think you can say farewell to a great deal of the clunky distance education programs out there.”
Warning: The following video from Dr. Elsa Barkley Brown will make you want to take her course: