Colorado optimistic about extra funds for education | VailDaily.com

Colorado optimistic about extra funds for education

COLLEEN SLEVIN
Associated Press Writer

DENVER, Colorado – Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said Monday she thinks Colorado has a good shot of being among the first group of states to win extra federal stimulus money for education reform.

O’Brien was among the leaders of 22 states and two territories who met with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to talk about the Barack Obama administration’s plans on Monday in North Carolina. Duncan will give $4.4 billion to a select group of states willing to push school reforms as part of the stimulus package.

Between eight and 10 states are expected to be selected after submitting their proposals by December. States that miss out in the first round could reapply in June 2010 after making changes recommended by officials.

O’Brien said Colorado is already working on key areas Duncan fleshed out during the meeting, including a new program to track the performance of teachers and an overhaul of academic standards.

“Just over and over again, we were either ahead of the curve or right in the place that they were talking about,” O’Brien said after the meeting sponsored by the National Governors Association.

She acknowledged that the state hasn’t always had the money to back up its ideas for change. For example, without any extra money, it could be another year or two before the teacher tracking program is implemented.

Gov. Bill Ritter will decide Colorado’s final proposal to win the extra money. O’Brien has said it could include lengthening the school day or requiring Saturday classes for struggling students and using some of the extra money for teacher bonuses pioneered by Denver schools.