Updated 2:40 p.m. - Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper today reached back into the Owens administration for his new budget director – and he put the current budget chief into a new role.
Henry Sobanet will be director of the Office of State Planning and Budgeting, a role he held from 1999 to 2004 under Republican Bill Owens. In recent years, Sobanet has run a private consulting firm and he was a legislative staff economist before joining the Owens team.
Todd Saliman, a former legislator who has been Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter’s OSPB director, is becoming a “senior advisor” to Hickenlooper. According to a news release, “He will serve in his new role part time for several months and advise the Hickenlooper-Garcia administration on budget, policy, legislative, efficiency and operational issues.”
The key takeaway from the appointments is that the incoming administration will have two members intimately familiar with the state budget and its problems, including the financial challenges facing both K-12 schools and higher education.
Hickenlooper has made a flurry of cabinet appointments this week, but there’s no word yet on the executive director of the Department of Higher Education, currently lawyer Rico Munn. The governor, of course, doesn’t appoint the commissioner of education. The State Board of Education has hired a search firm to help in its hunt for a Dwight Jones replacement.
U.S. Department of Education officials have invited district and union leaders from 2,000 school districts to participate in a “conference on labor-management collaboration” set for Denver on Feb. 15 and 16.
“We have seen how good labor-management relations can create the conditions that drive student success so we want to bring together leaders in labor and management who are committed to collaboration around bold reforms,” federal schools chief Arne Duncan said in Monday’s press release.
To participate, a district’s school board president, superintendent and teacher union leader must all agree to attend. And all three must “further pledge to collaboratively develop and implement policies in such areas as: setting strategic direction to advance student achievement and aligning all labor-management work with this overarching focus … ” the release states.
You can read the full release here. Denver Public Schools spokesman Mike Vaughn said Douglas County is co-hosting the event, perhaps because the Denver teachers’ union is an NEA affiliate and Dougco’s union is an affiliate of the AFT.
In August, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel chose Denver as the first city in a weeklong national tour highlighting reform initiatives in which teachers’ unions are playing a key role. In Denver, that includes the teacher-led Math and Science Leadership Academy and work around a major Gates grant on teacher effectiveness. But the Denver Classroom Teachers Association is no pushover in district-union matters and its president, Henry Roman, has yet to confirm he’s attending the February conference.
“I think it’s always a good idea to have conversations about how we can improve the work we’re currently doing in DPS, because the working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of students,” he said late Monday. “We’re definitely willing to be a part.”
But the union and district are beginning some tough conversations about contract changes to article 13, which governs teacher assignments and transfers. Roman said there’s disagreement about the implementation of the educator effectiveness law, particularly in its changes for teachers unable to find jobs without district placement help.
The new law limits how long teachers with more than three years of experience can remain on a district’s payroll if something happens at their current school – such as an enrollment decline – and they can’t secure a position elsewhere. Denver union and district leaders disagree on when that clock is supposed to start, Roman said.
“The law is very open to interpretation,” he said. “We have to know the bottom line about this issue by Jan. 15,” in time for the spring staffing cycle for 2011-12.
The outcome of the talks will determine whether he attends the labor-management conference, Roman said, or begins preparing for court to seek a declaratory judgment on the “mutual consent” portion of the educator effectiveness law.
What’s on tap:
Tonight, Aurora Public Schools board members continue their conversation about changing graduation requirements, including adding a year of math and allowing students more freedom in choosing their electives. Changes would likely be effective with the Class of 2015. Board action on the issue is slated at their next meeting, Jan. 18. We’re still waiting for that handy link to the proposed changes and we’ll post it as soon as we get it. Meanwhile, here’s the full agenda for tonight’s 6 p.m. meeting, which includes minutes from the last board discussion about the issue. The meeting is at the usual place, 1085 Peoria St.
Good reads from elsewhere:
- Lots of leaving: KIPP’s attrition rate higher than fans admit. Washington Post (blog post)
- New law in effect: Ariz. moves to withhold ethnic studies funds. Education Week
- Bushed: Jeb Bush’s influence over ed policy is growing. Education Week
- Another SB 191?: Illinois ponders linking tenure, results. Wall Street Journal