Testing deal reached
Reducing standardized testing in Colorado K-12 schools has been a long road, beginning with task force meetings last summer and stretching to the final day of the 2015 legislative session, when a compromise, House Bill 1323, finally won approval. It is expected to be signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The bill doesn't go as far as some wanted, because it preserves ninth-grade testing and retains both the Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) multi-state tests. However, it does reduce reading tests for young kids; eliminate 11th- and 12th-grade PARCC tests, and change the test for 10th graders; allow paper-and-pencil tests rather than online tests; allow parents to opt their kids out of tests without penalties; and create a pilot program for districts to use alternative tests.
It also prohibits the state from assigning an accreditation rating (based on test scores) to school districts or the state Charter School Institute for the 2015-16 school year, and also prohibits the use of student growth calculations from state testing in teacher evaluations for the 2014-15 school year. — JAS
Cleaning up after Maketa
El Paso County commissioners were scheduled to consider two settlements Tuesday, after the Independent's deadline.
The claims — lodged against the county, the sheriff's office, former Sheriff Terry Maketa and former Undersheriff Paula Presley — were filed by Charles Kull and Emory Gerhart.
Kull and Gerhart resigned their positions with the sheriff's office in December 2013, then filed the claims seeking damages. The two claimed they were harassed and emotionally abused by Maketa and Presley. They have also claimed that they were unfairly implicated in the alleged disappearance of current Sheriff Bill Elder's discipline file — which may or may not have existed.
The mystery file is part of a larger list of complaints against Maketa, who also got into trouble for alleged favoritism and having at least one affair with a subordinate. He is being looked at by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations, which could criminally charge him.
Kull and Gerhart stand to receive $120,000 and $87,920 payouts, respectively. —JAS
Man shot in Hobby Lobby
Patrons at a local crafting store had more to fear than hot glue guns on Friday, May 8.
An on-duty El Paso County Sheriff's deputy fired on a knife-wielding suspect at the Hobby Lobby at 525 S. Eighth St., terrifying customers and staff. The suspect, a 48-year-old white male, was still being treated at a local hospital for injuries on Monday. He's in custody on charges of parole violation and escape.
The Colorado Springs Police Department Violent Crimes Unit will be investigating the incident. The deputy has been placed on paid routine administrative leave, in accordance with policy. — JAS
Local CEO pay rises
CEO pay for the four public companies traded on prominent exchanges and headquartered in Colorado Springs rose dramatically in the last year, according to the Gazette, which says it "is the biggest increase in local CEO compensation since 2006."
The four companies are Spectranetics Corp., Century Casinos Inc., Vectrus Inc., and Gold Resource Corp. The biggest increase went to Erwin Haitzmann and Peter Hoetzinger, leaders of Century Casinos, who saw total compensation increase to $2.06 million and $2.05 million, respectively. Each also received a 35 percent raise last year.
"Despite the generous compensation for the local CEOs, the financial performance of the companies they head was mixed," writes Wayne Heilman.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining new rules on disclosing executive pay, reports Reuters. "The proposal calls for companies to provide a table in their proxy statements that contains the total compensation paid to their principal executive, the total shareholder return on an annual basis, and the shareholder return on an annual basis of peer group companies, among other things." — BC