Policy Bits ~ 3 Things to Know & Watch This Week
February 22-28, 2016 ~ Karly Malpiede Andrus
Many Colorado schools still failing after years and millions of dollars spent
- The federal School Improvement Grant, which funneled money to the country’s lowest performing 5% of schools for five years have found 50% stayed stagnant or dropped in their performance. Although this means 50% improved. Either way the federal program for failing schools is in limbo with no new funds scheduled in last year’s Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind. http://goo.gl/SRRB6i
- The key is allowing districts and communities the flexibility to determine their own solutions; there is no “secret sauce” to fixing underperforming schools.
EPA releases Online Mapping Tool to Help Protect Drinking Water Sources
- The Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) allows users to learn about their watershed and understand more about their water supplier. Users can see if sources are polluted or if there are potential contamination sources in their community and can find ways to get involved in protecting drinking water sources. http://goo.gl/f3nSAh
- Unfortunately the importance of clean drinking water has been a current topic of discussion and this tool can help articulate its resounding importance to the broader community as well as ensure good stewardship of this precious resource. Locally, the Colorado discussions about a water usage plan have shown that the mere availability of water is a critical component of community development that we should mind.
What should Denver do about its Broken and Aging Sidewalks?
- A new council working group on sidewalks and a recent sidewalk inventory build on Mayor Hancock’s yearlong mobility group and his Wed announcement towards Vison Zero (more to come next week). A 1950s ordinance that limits Denver’s liability and cost exposure also results in property owners that cannot afford to fix their adjacent sidewalks creating a dangerous patchwork of pedestrian infrastructure. The cost to build missing sidewalks estimated at $50M to $75M for the concrete needed alone. http://goo.gl/Sxwdne
- This tale from the field shows the difficulty in prioritizing these issues, a world class pedestrian infrastructure is absolutely necessary to leverage our transit investment and truly make the Denver region a world class destination but is $75 million better spent on concrete or developing affordable housing to keep complete communities? Recognition of sidewalks a public good and their costs is important but these kinds of fees are regressive, hitting the working poor the hardest, the same folks TOD should be helping.