Join Us for a virtual discussion with national and local education leaders

Written by: Leslie Colwell
Date Posted: May 8, 2020

Join us on Wednesday, May 13, 2020 for a discussion covering how our state’s rapidly declining revenues could impact school district budgets and what districts can do to ensure the impact does not disproportionately impact our students with the most barriers to opportunity.

Schooling in the Era of COVID-19: Smart School District Budget Management in the Context of Reduced Education Revenues is an event sponsored by A+ Colorado, Education Reform Now, Democrats for Education Reform, Colorado Education Initiative, the Children’s Campaign and The Colorado Sun.

The webinar will include a presentation by Dr. Marguerite Roza from Georgetown University, a leading national expert on school finance. Erica Breunlin, education reporter for The Colorado Sun, will moderate a panel discussion focused on the following questions:

  • What should districts consider when thinking about budget building and cuts?
  • How can districts ensure that dollars are going to best meet student needs with an equity lens?
  • How can and should districts think about community engagement and the politics in their community to ensure that budget decisions are informed by the community, research and data?

Other panelists will include:

  • Erik Johnson, former CFO, Denver Public Schools
  • Shari Davis, Executive Director, Participatory Budgeting Project
  • Glenn Gustafson, CPA, Deputy Superintendent/CFO, Colorado Springs School District 11

Register now! 

About the Speakers

Dr. Marguerite Roza, Georgetown University

Dr. Roza is Research Professor and Director of the Edunomics Lab (, a research center focused on exploring and modeling education finance policy and practice. She leads the McCourt School of Public Policy’s Certificate in Education Finance, which equips participants with practical skills in strategic fiscal management, finance policy analysis, and financial leadership.

Dr. Roza’s research traces the effects of fiscal policies at the federal, state, and district levels for their implications on resources at the school and classroom levels. Her calculations of dollar implications and cost-equivalent trade-offs have prompted changes in education finance policy at all levels in the education system.

Prior to her appointment at Georgetown University, she served as Senior Economic Advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Earlier, she served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy teaching thermodynamics at the Naval Nuclear Power School. Dr. Roza earned a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Washington and a B.S. from Duke University. She also studied at the London School of Economics and the University of Amsterdam.

Shari Davis, Executive Director, Participatory Budgeting Project

Shari heads PBP’s leadership team, communications efforts, and development strategy. She joined PBP after nearly 15 years of service and leadership in local government. As Director of Youth Engagement and Employment for the City of Boston she launched Youth Lead the Change, the first youth participatory budgeting process in the U.S., which won the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ City Livability Award. Shari first got involved in city government in high school, serving as the Citywide Neighborhood Safety Coordinator on the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council and working at the Mayor’s Youthline. Shari is a graduate of Boston University’s Sargent College for Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and holds a master’s degree in anatomy and physiology.

Erik Johnson, Former Chief Financial Officer, Denver Public Schools

Erik is a proven financial leader and the former Chief Financial Officer for Denver Public Schools. Prior to joining DPS, he served in financial leadership positions in the telecommunications and technology sectors.  As CFO of DPS, Erik was responsible for leading all financial operations of Denver Public Schools’ $1.4 billion annual spending, including long-term strategic planning, risk management, payroll, accounting operations, grant management, strategic sourcing, and accounts payable. Erik is passionate about driving equitable funding and increasing school autonomy with the goal of reducing the opportunity gap.

Glenn E. Gustafson, CPA, Deputy Superintendent/CFO, Colorado Springs School District 11

Glenn E. Gustafson, CPA, has been with School District 11 since January 1992. His current position is Deputy Superintendent/Chief Financial Officer. He currently oversees the following departments: Accounting, Budget, Procurement, Facilities & Operations, Risk Related Activities, Food & Nutrition Services, Production Printing, and Charter Schools. Mr. Gustafson was formerly the Director of Finance for the City of Fountain, Colorado. He received his BSBA in accounting from the University of Colorado in 1982 and his MBA with an emphasis in finance from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1990. Glenn is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Public Finance Officer (CPFO).

Leslie Colwell

About Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell serves as the Vice President of K-12 Education Initiatives, leading the Campaign’s work to improve education in the state of Colorado. Before joining the Children’s Campaign in August of 2014, Leslie worked to facilitate partnerships and produce policy agreements, especially in the area of education as an Associate at The Keystone Center. Her professional experience includes working as Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Johnston, managing his education policy portfolio (including his office’s work on HB12-1238, Colorado’s READ Act, and SB13-033, ASSET), and directing a policy fellowship for educators for three summers. Leslie has also worked on Teach For America’s alumni team, and before that taught 6th grade Math and Earth Science as a TFA corps member at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and on the steering committee of the Colorado Afterschool Partnership.