Hello from a rainy Denver morn. It may not be another bomb cyclone (see 9News’ meteorological crew get specific about how this storm is different,) but a blizzard hitting within hours of shorts weather just couldn’t be any more Colorado.
The one advantage of a snowed-in afternoon/evening is that once you put your beef stew in the Instant Pot (or however you do snowstorms) you’ll have plenty of time to tuck into some really thoughtful pieces of journalism. Today’s edition of The Sunriser has plenty of those, including the first day of our series investigating the world of school safety as the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting approaches.
Let’s zip this raincoat and get to it already, shall we?
THIS NEWSLETTER UNDERWRITTEN BY
It’s time for Colorado to ensure every child has access to full-day kindergarten — no matter their ZIP code or their family’s ability to pay. Read more at FullDayK.co
ABOVE THE FOLD
Five members of The Colorado Sun staff were directly involved in covering the Columbine shooting (while three of us — myself included — were still in school at the time). And as our editor Larry Ryckman writes in his column introducing our series, those moments and that heartbreak have defined a generation of Coloradans, while the issues that have rippled out from that day in April continue to have repercussions today. To mark the 20th anniversary of that tragedy, we’ve chosen to highlight the ongoing, important issues facing students, parents, educators and lawmakers around school safety in Colorado.
Twenty years after Columbine, Colorado schools are assessing an astonishing number of student threats
Tim Leon, director of safety and security for Mesa County Valley School District 51 , works with school resource officers to secure external school doors during a lockdown drill at Broadway Elementary School in Grand Junction on March 28, 2019. The district has nine full-time security officers and contracts with local law enforcement for another 15 officers. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)
“The Snapchat messages were chilling.”
The first story in our series examining the world of school safety tackles the shocking number of threat assessments happening in Colorado schools, with some schools evaluating four threats per day on average.
Christopher Osher and Jennifer Brown’s months-long investigation found administrators who say the programs are stopping violence in its tracks, worries about students’ civil rights as the number of assessments skyrocket, and some shocking incidents including the murder of Makayla Grote allegedly by a student suspended from Jeffco Public Schools after he was deemed a serious risk.
A fight on a school bus, a knife in a backpack, suicide tips from Safe2Tell: The post-Columbine world of school safety runs 24/7
“We save lives on a daily basis.”
— Ellen Kelty, Denver Public Schools director of student equity and opportunity
The second story in our series is a fascinating look inside the Denver Public Schools Department of Safety, where police academy-trained officers (who also are certified in mental health crisis response) handle threats and disturbances around the sprawling district 24/7, 365 days a year.
This kind of investigative journalism is only made possible by members of The Sun. If you haven’t yet joined our growing community, head over to coloradosun.com/join to support independent, thoughtful journalism for as little as $5/month. (And for those who are already members, thank you for your support!)
More from The Sun
“We actually forged a pain-sharing agreement.”
— Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt on the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan
- Congress has OK’d the massive Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan that “shares the pain” of drought from Tabernash all the way to Palm Springs and Mexico. Jason Blevins has a deep dive into how so many moving parts came together and what it means for Coloradans.
- The automatic property tax cut that was set to be triggered next tax year by the Gallagher Amendment (here’s a primer on that particular quirky amendment) would amount to about $70 on a home worth $350,000. But Gov. Jared Polis is mulling a workaround to stop that cut and use those funds to help pay for schools and roads. Brian Eason, as he so often does, has the clearest explanation of this sticky situation.
“A lot of these oil and gas companies have been real jerks. It is kind of flipping off the guy in traffic on the way to a job interview and realizing, ‘Oh! That’s the guy I am meeting with.’”
— Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley
- A huge part of the oil and gas reform bill headed to Polis’ desk is the enshrinement of local government control over drilling in their communities. Mark Jaffe explains the wide variety of ways that the newfound local power will be used.
- Meanwhile, the administration of Gov. Polis is pledging to quickly hit the ground running on developing new rules and regulations for drilling to help give a “sense of certainty and predictability for the industry.”
- Also at The Capitol: The Democrats’ ambitious family leave plan got an overhaul and advanced out of committee. See what’s new and what obstacles remain here.
- From Chalkbeat: Colorado school districts are quickly preparing for full-day kindergarten next school year, which could change the financial calculus of Gov. Polis’ initiative.
// A possible instance of dirty politics and media suppression took place on the campus of Colorado State University. As The Rocky Mountain Collegian reports, copies of the Collegian featuring a cover story about allegations of campaign finance violations in school elections were taken off stands and thrown away. // The Rocky Mountain Collegian
// Michael Sakas has a deep look at Denver’s proposed Initiative 300 that includes discussion of one of the core, but mostly unspoken, arguments about urban homelessness, as summed up by CPR’s Sam Brasch: Advocates want homelessness to be more visible in order to force system changes rather than hiding evidence of homelessness and pretending it doesn’t exist. // CPR News
// A blind man says a scooter rider crashed into him and then threatened him before she fled the scene (police say the man hasn’t filed charges, so no investigation is ongoing). // Denver7
// A cord was strung across a bridge on a popular mountain bike trail in Colorado Springs that caused a lifelong cyclist to crash and break three ribs and a clavicle. It’s just the latest booby trap on popular trails around the state (and country). // CBS4, SingleTracks.com
// It’s Colorado vs. Alabama vs. California for the still-theoretical headquarters of the U.S. Space Command. // The Hill
// You might not think of “the internet” and “livestock” in the same sentence, but Harvest Public Media has a great look at how slow broadband speeds hurt rural areas, starting with cattle sales. // Harvest Public Media
// While actual white nationalists were invited to testify before Congress on the rise of hate crimes and white nationalism on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, here in Colorado, a swastika was burned into the asphalt near a Denver elementary school and a trans man was attacked in his front yard. // The Verge, Bloomberg, 9News, KRDO
Today’s thing comes from Sunriser reader Betsy E! If you’ve got A Thing™ you’d like to share, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Thing: “Wanted” (Watch it on Netflix)
Why You Might Like It: Betsy writes: My all out favorite is “Wanted” a three-season show (with just six episodes in each season) on Netflix. My niece, Kristin, told me about it. I was not able to stop watching this series. Filmed in Australia, Thailand and New Zealand, it follows two women who are literally thrown together at a bus stop and are put on the run from all manner of bad guys/girls. It will leave you breathless, laughing in amazement and you will fall in love with these women.
You did it! You made it all the way to the bottom of a particularly packed Sunriser. As always, I hope you come away from reading it having learned a few things about our state and a fresh desire to share that knowledge with your friends, family and your entire social network. And the best way to get them involved (for free!) is to get them on board with The Sunriser at coloradosun.com/newsletters.
We’ll be publishing new stories in our school safety series After Columbine at coloradosun.com/columbine the rest of this week, so make sure to keep an eye on your inbox for the latest.
But for now, make sure you get home safe, stay warm and we’ll see you Friday when the sun will reemerge from behind this little squall.