Colo. education commissioner Jones remembers to reimburse state for calls

Called out by reporters, Colorado Commissioner of Education Dwight Jones continues to cut back on his spendthrift ways.

Jones recently returned $940 to the state, to cover 2 ½ years of personal phone calls made on his state-issued cellphone. That’s nearly half the $2,227 charged to his phone since he took office.

“He knew about the policy, and he just hadn’t done it,” said department spokesman Mark Stevens. “It was an oversight.”

Jones recently fielded questions after a news investigation into his department’s spending. At the end of last fiscal year, the Colorado Department of Education spent $12,000 on new furniture, $13,600 on plasma televisions—all while Commissioner Dwight Jones treated employees and colleagues to $80-a-head dinners at some of Denver’s fanciest restaurants.

Revelations about misused funds at the Colorado Department of Education come as school districts across the state are renegotiating teacher contracts because of a threatened take-back of state funding. In three of the state’s largest districts, Greeley, St. Vrain and Boulder, contract negotiations have broken down completely, and strikes may be looming.

Responding to Jones’s oversight in the Denver Post, Colorado State Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, reprimanded him for apparently not realizing the state is in a recession.

“He has a very high work ethic, and I appreciate that,” she said. “He has to be mindful of the fact that our fiscal situation doesn’t permit charging the state for personal expenses.

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