Who Is In Charge

Districts get the word on Edujobs grants

Pile of cashColorado school districts and charter schools received good news Wednesday about federal grants that will help ease budget cuts for districts and provide funding for new charter schools.

The Colorado Department of Education this week notified school districts of the amounts each likely will receive under the new federal Edujobs program, which is designed to reduce the loss of jobs caused by budget cuts.

Most districts are expected to receive grants equal to 2.9 percent of their total program funding, which is the amount of state and local revenue that’s devoted to school operating costs.

Most districts experienced total program cuts ranging from 3.6 to 6.3 percent for 2010-11.

Officials also announced that the state has been awarded a $40.8 million, three-year federal grant to help charter and other choice schools with start-up costs.

Edujobs by the numbers

In a letter to superintendents and chief financial officers around the state, Assistant Commissioner Vody Herrmann wrote that the governor’s office now believes Colorado is eligible for Edujobs — there had been some uncertainty about that last week. She wrote that the state will apply for the program and that funds will be distributed through the state school finance formula.

States have the option of distributing the dollars through their finance formulas, generally a per-pupil allocation, or their Title 1 federal grant dispersal method, which is based on the number of students in poverty. So news that Colorado will use the finance formula was particularly welcome in districts such as Douglas County, which has a relatively low poverty rate but which also reported among the highest number of school positions cut in 2010-11.

Distribution of funds through the school finance formula, which is based on enrollment, district property values, number of at-risk students and other factors, also will mean districts will receive funds regardless of whether they cut their budgets this year through layoffs, attrition, furloughs or other means.

Here are the tentative allocations for the state’s 25 largest districts:

  • Jefferson County – $15.7 million
  • Denver – $15.4 million
  • Douglas County – $11 million
  • Cherry Creek – $9.7 million
  • Adams 12 Five Star – $7.7 million
  • Aurora – $7.2 million
  • Colorado Springs 11 – $5.5 million
  • Boulder Valley – $5.4 million
  • St. Vrain – $5 million
  • Poudre – $4.7 million
  • Academy 20 $4.1 million
  • Mesa – $4 million
  • Greeley – $3.5 million
  • Pueblo City – $3.3 million
  • Littleton – $2.8 million
  • Thompson – $2.7 million
  • Brighton – $2.7 million
  • Falcon – $2.7 million
  • Harrison – $2.1 million
  • Westminster – $1.9 million
  • Pueblo County – $1.6 million
  • Widefield – $1.5 million
  • Adams 14 – $1.5 million
  • Fountain – $1.3 million
  • Montrose – $1.2 million
  • Charter School Institute – $1.2 million

(A full list of districts is available here.)

The federal government made state-by-state allocations based on overall population and population aged 5-24. Colorado’s allocation is $159.5 million, of which CDE can retain $3.2 million (2 percent) for administrative costs. (The figures listed above are based on total grants of $156.3 million, after CDE administrative costs.)

The grants are intended for use in the current, 2010-11 school year but districts actually have until Sept. 30, 2012, to use any unspent funds. (The New York Times reported Wednesday that some large school districts around the nation aren’t inclined to use the money right away because of fears about continuing budget cuts beyond this school year.) Districts can draw no more than half their Edujobs grants by the end of this year.

The money is to be used for personnel costs, not to replenish reserves or for facilities.

Charter grants

The $40.8 million charter grant awarded to Colorado was part of awards to 12 states totaling $138 million a year.

“Ninety-five percent of these funds will go directly to new charter schools in their first three years of operation,” said Denise Mund, director of CDE’s Schools of Choice Office. “The grants will fund curriculum, professional development, administrative costs, desks and classroom supplies, office equipment, furniture and technology.”

The remaining 5 percent of the funds will be used for administrative costs and for the development and training of charter school leaders.

Since 1998, Colorado has received about $64.8 million under the program, which is separate from the education stimulus effort.

names are in

Ten apply for vacant seat on the Memphis school board, but six live outside of seat’s district

PHOTO: Kayleigh Skinner
Former Shelby County Board of Education Chairwoman Teresa Jones confers with then Superintendent Dorsey Hopson during a 2015 school board meeting. Jones' seat is now up for an interim appointment.

Ten people have put their name in to become the next board member of Tennessee’s largest school district.

The appointee will fill the seat Teresa Jones vacated following her recent appointment as a municipal court judge, and would serve until the term expires in August 2020, not October as previously reported.

The interim member will join the school board at a crucial time, amid the search for a new superintendent to replace Dorsey Hopson, who left the district in December. Currently, Joris Ray is serving as interim superintendent.

Jones’ district 2 serves neighborhoods including North Memphis, Binghampton, and Berclair. Six applicants live outside of the district and Shelby County Commissioner Michael Whaley said this would likely prevent them from an appointment, but the commission is seeking clarity from the state and election commission.

Whaley also said the interim appointment was extended to August 2020 because Tennessee law doesn’t specify that special elections are necessary for the school board, so the interim will finish out Jones’ term.

The county commission is scheduled to name a successor on Monday Feb. 25, a day before the school board’s meeting that month. The commission is slated to interview candidates Wednesday at 10 a.m., but Whaley said more names could be added by commissioners prior to the vote on Monday We’ve linked to their full applications below.

Applicants are:

Althea Greene

  • She is a retired teacher from Memphis City Schools and childcare supervisor with Shelby County Schools. She is currently Pastor of Real Life Ministries.

Arvelia Chambers

  • She is a senior certified pharmacy technician with Walgreens. She said she’s a “passionate aunt” of three children in Shelby County Schools.
  • Her listed address is slightly north of District 2.

Aubrey Howard

  • He works as the executive director of governmental and legislative affairs in the Shelby County Trustee’s Office. He formerly worked for the City of Memphis, and said in his application that he previously ran for school board and lost.

Charles McKinney

  • He is the Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and associate professor of history at Rhodes College. He is on the board of Crosstown High Charter School, and is the father of two Shelby County Schools students.

David Brown

  • He is the executive director of digital ministry at Brown Missionary Baptist Church and graduated from  Craigmont High School.
  • His listed address is slightly east of District 2.

Erskine Gillespie

  • Gillespie previously ran for City Council district 7 but lost. He is an account manager at the Lifeblood Mid-South Regional Blood Bank. He said in his application that he was one of the first students to enter the optional schools program in the Memphis district.

Kenneth Whalum, Jr.

  • He is a pastor at The New Olivet Worship Center and previously served as a school board member for the former Memphis City Schools; he was first elected in 2006. He has vocally opposed the process behind the 2013 merger of the city school system with legacy Shelby County Schools.
  • Whalum ran against school board member Kevin Woods in 2012 and lost.
  • His listed address is near the University of Memphis, not in District 2.

Makeda Porter-Carr

  • She is a research administrator at St. Jude Research Hospital.
  • Her listed address is in southeast Memphis, not in District 2.

Michael Hoffmeyer Sr.

  • He is the director of the University of Memphis’ Crews Center for Entrepreneurship in which he works with college and high school students. He graduated from Craigmont High School.
  • His listed address is slightly north of District 2.

Tyree Daniels

  • He helped found Memphis College Prep charter school. He lost to Jones in a school board race in 2012. Daniels is now a part of Duncan-Williams Inc. — the firm handling public financing for the project Union Row.
  • His listed address is in east Memphis, not in District 2.

Raise your voice

Memphis, what do you want in your next school superintendent?

PHOTO: Kyle Kurlick for Chalkbeat

Tennessee’s largest school district needs a permanent leader. What kind of superintendent do you think Shelby County Schools should be looking for?

Now is the chance to raise your voice. The school board is in the thick of finalizing a national search and is taking bids from search firms. Board members say they want a leader to replace former superintendent Dorsey Hopson in place within 18 months. They have also said they want community input in the process, though board members haven’t specified what that will look like. In the interim, career Memphis educator Joris Ray is at the helm.

Let us know what you think is most important in the next superintendent.  Select responses will be published.