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Colorado House District 52 Vacancy

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Letter: Good schools a community asset

Whether you have kids in our local schools or not, our schools make our community a better place to live. When children have access to a good education, they are more likely to grow up and become contributing members of society. Our local businesses need skilled and qualified workers. We need children to become educated citizens who will work, pay taxes and contribute to our community, not drain it of resources.

Education is the most effective tool we have to break the cycle of poverty and lower the crime rate. Did you know some states determine the number of prisons they need to build based on the number of third graders who are not proficient in reading? These students are less likely to graduate from high school and hold down a job. These students are more likely to be involved with drugs and crime and end up in jail.

Every dollar spent on education is an investment in our community. Good schools are an invaluable community asset, but schools don’t generally get credit for the great economic good they provide.

Our area has frequently been voted as one of the best places to live in the country. Our local schools are one of the reasons we’re considered such a good place to live. We have great schools here in the Poudre School District, and we strive every day to make them better.

Recent research shows that school boards have a significant impact on student achievement. This is why being on the school board is the best volunteer job I have ever had. This is a place where we can truly make a difference for our kids and make our entire community a better place to live.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on the school board these past four years. I ask for your vote in the upcoming school board elections so I can continue to work to strengthen our schools.

Cathy Kipp is the vice president of Poudre School District’s Board of Education and is running for re-election.

-Reprinted from the Coloradoan
http://www.coloradoan.com/story/opinion/2015/09/09/letter-good-schools-community-asset/71949312/.

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Soapbox: Elected school board members must advocate for PSD

The school board is elected to reflect the values of the community. It is important for the school board to listen to the community. Communication between the board and the community has been one of my priorities. Our board has benefited from convening community engagement sessions over the past four years. I look forward to continuing these meetings.

State and federal governments impact PSD students. It is important for board members to advocate for public education with these elected officials. It is one of my priorities to continue to have a strong voice for our district with state and federal decision makers. The major issues recently involve testing and adequate funding. There is still work to be done, but we have made progress.

Our school board recently hired a new superintendent of schools, Dr. Sandra Smyser. She has recently completed her second full year of service. She has improved relations with our community and schools by listening before making decisions. As a result our staff satisfaction rate has improved. Parents are happier. Community partnerships with PSD are flourishing. Our community and our schools are thriving under Smyser’s leadership.

Our superintendent and her team have worked with our board to develop innovative student-centered goals, District Ends. These goals are more than test scores. They reflect what our parents, business community and higher education institutions expect from our students. I look forward to overseeing and evaluating these goals.

We live in a beautiful place with a growing economy and increasing student population. Growth brings challenges to Poudre School District. We are responsible for more than 29,000 students, and our district is the ninth-largest in the state. We continue to grow. Part of the job of those elected in November will be to figure out how to accommodate the growing number of students in our schools.

PSD is fortunate to have an effective school board that resolves issues respectfully and focuses on the best interest of our students.

We live in an excellent school district that serves our students well. I ask for your vote to continue to serve on the school board for four more years.

Cathy Kipp is the vice president of the Poudre School District Board of Education, and her two sons attend PSD schools.

-Reprinted from the Coloradoan.

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/opinion/2015/08/03/soapbox-elected-school-board-members-must-advocate-psd/31087975/

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Kipp seeking Poudre School District board re-election

Cathy Kipp, vice president of the Poudre School District Board of Education, announced this week she will seek a second term on the board.

If elected to a second term, Kipp said she would oversee new board goals for students, continue advocating with legislators and help foster a partnership between the school district and the community.

Five of the governing board’s seven seats up for grabs in the November election. While Kipp lives in District A, residents can vote for candidates in all districts.

“Our school district has made so much progress during the past three and a half years, I would love the opportunity to continue serving the community in my role on the school board and continue moving our district forward,” Kipp said in a statement.

-Reprinted from the Coloradoan.

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Soapbox: Testing time still high, but strides made

With the state legislative session over for the year, it is time to let you know how the decisions made will affect our students here in the Poudre School District (PSD).

Part of the job of a local school board is to help create the best possible conditions in which to educate our students. This year, our PSD Board of Education has concentrated on two major issues: testing and funding.

One thing almost everyone agreed on this year is that we are over-testing our students. What didn’t people agree on? The solution! After many testing reduction bills were introduced in both the Colorado House and Senate, a compromise bill was finally passed on the last day of the legislative session. Here are the highlights from that bill:

READ Act testing was streamlined and should require fewer testing hours in grades K-3.

Third-grade through eighth-grade annual testing in math and English language arts (as required by federal minimums) will continue.

Ninth-graders will be required to take the Math and English Language Arts tests (as they are now). Federal minimums require this testing once in high school, but also define high school as 10th through 12th grade. This is an area Colorado will need to work on with the federal government.

10th-grade students would be given the ACT Aspire (or similar test).

11th-grade students would continue to take the ACT (which doesn’t currently count toward federal minimums).

Science testing will continue once per grade span (elementary, middle, and high school) as required by federal minimums. The Colorado Department of Education will determine in which grades these tests are given.

Social studies testing, which like science is given once per grade span; it will be given at schools once every third year, although schools may request it more often.

Districts or schools can choose a paper-and-pencil test option (instead of a computerized test).

While the number of testing hours per subject is still high, this is an improvement over the current school year.

On the subject of education funding, we did not make much progress this year. While the legislature did fund growth (new students) plus inflation, K-12 education only received a small amount of the money it is owed.

For those of you who still believe legalizing marijuana helps to fund education, I’m sorry to tell you that this is not the case. A portion of marijuana tax revenues do address life and safety issues in schools across Colorado. PSD does not qualify for these funds.

As our state legislative session is limited to only 120 calendar days, it often appears our state legislators could use more time to come up with good solutions. On the other hand, having a hard deadline might be how some things get done at the Colorado Capitol.

Cathy Kipp serves as vice president of the PSD Board of Education and is a parent of two PSD students.

-Reprinted from the Coloradoan.

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/opinion/2015/05/20/colorado-education/27678261/

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Soapbox: Time for Colorado to pay what is owed to K-12 education

In 2000, Colorado taxpayers voted to restore K-12 school funding to 1989 levels by passing Amendment 23. Unfortunately, this promise has been broken. Currently, K-12 education in Colorado is not receiving over $1 billion dollars per year of voter-approved funding. This year, with increasing revenues at the state level, the state Legislature has the opportunity to restore some of this funding taken from K-12 education to help balance the state budget. We need your help to restore these voter-approved funds!

How does this affect the Poudre School District? PSD has lost over $100 million in state funding in the past four years. For the current school year, schools are missing out on over $31 million of voter-approved funding. This money could be used in numerous ways to improve education for students in PSD.

What is the negative factor? The negative factor is an invention of the state Legislature, used to turn the amount of money the voters approved for K-12 education into a smaller number, an amount the state could afford. Currently, schools are receiving over 15 percent fewer dollars than specified in the state constitution.

Why now? Colorado’s revenue forecast shows that the state has nearly $1.1 billion more in revenues for the coming budget year than it did at this time last year. It is time for the state to make good on the promise voters made to K-12 education.

What is being done? This year, superintendents, school boards and teachers from across Colorado have united to ask the state Legislature to start restoring the money taken from K-12 education.

School districts in Colorado range in size from about 50 students to 81,000 students. These districts also have incredible differences in demographics and political points of view. It is extremely meaningful this year that 172 out of the 178 school superintendents in Colorado have signed a letter asking the state Legislature to start buying down the negative factor over a five-year period ($200 million per year), and to let districts spend this money as best fits the needs of each individual school district. The Colorado Association of School Boards is in agreement with this position, along with your PSD school board, which unanimously passed a resolution asking for this reduction.

What can you do? You really can make a difference this year. Superintendents, school boards and teachers have paved the way for community members to get involved. We have been talking to legislators at the state capitol. The voices of parents and community members are the last pieces of this puzzle, which can help our legislators decide to start taking significant steps to start reducing the negative factor. Contact your local legislators, members of the state House and Senate education committees, members of the joint budget committee, and the governor’s office. Please email me at ckipp@psdschools.org if you would like a list of these email addresses. If you would like additional data on school funding in Colorado, check out www.cosfp.org. Together we can make a difference for our students!

Cathy Kipp is vice president of the Poudre School District Board of Education and the parent of two PSD students.

Reprinted from the Coloradoan

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/04/04/soapbox-time-for-colorado-to-pay-what-is-owed-to-k-12-education/7330363/

Other Stories & Soapboxes

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/2014/03/28/psd-seeks-return-of-100m-in-state-funding-lost-to-recession/7044353/

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2014/01/11/fort-collins-legislators-preview-2014-session-at-saturday-town-hall/4435897/