This Week at the Capitol: February 19

Legislation | 02/19/2016

Amy Pitlik
Director of Government Affairs

As the Colorado General Assembly finishes its 6th week of the legislative session, more than 420 bills and resolutions have been introduced. With a greater number of education bills beginning to make their way to committee hearings, the Government Affairs team will continue monitoring any potential legislation that seeks to roll back valuable reforms.

Under the Gold Dome

On February 17, the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed SB16-047 by Sen. Laura Woods (D-Arvada). The bill, which passed unanimously, would prohibit a juvenile detention facility from receiving or providing care for a juvenile who violates a court order to attend school.

On February 18, SB16-105 by Sen. Michael Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs) was debated in the Senate Education Committee. Stand for Children and many other organizations and individuals opposed the bill. Currently, 50% of teacher and administrator evaluations must be based on a student’s academic growth. SB 105 would adjust the requirement, so that academic growth would not have to be a component in an educator’s evaluation and exempted certain educators from being evaluated at all. Both proponents and opponents vigorously debated the merits and drawbacks of the bill; several lawmakers also expressed concern about the ability of districts to entirely eliminate student growth from teacher evaluations. Colorado teacher, Lauren Fine, who was in opposition, stated “I’m responsible for what my students learn and I want to be held accountable for that growth.” Stand Colorado’s policy manager, Chelsea Henkel also testified before the committee in opposition to the bill. Ultimately, the bill was defeated on a 6-3 vote.

Looking Forward…

HB16-1121 by Rep. Jeni Arndt (D-Fort Collins) will be heard in the House Education Committee on February 22. The bill would allow school boards to adopt their own evaluation systems that would exempt national board certified teachers from annual evaluation requirements for up to three years. A teacher who receives this exemption will retain the rating they received on their most recent evaluation during the three-year period.

HB16-1128 by Rep. Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) will be discussed in the House Education Committee on February 24. The bill would require all school districts, charter school, local education providers, and public institutions of higher education to provide concurrent enrollment opportunities for qualified high school students. The qualified students must apply to the school district superintendent or school principal, specifying the course in which they seek to enroll. If the student’s request is denied, reasons for the denial must be put in writing.

On February 24, SB16-104 by Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) will be heard before the Senate Education Committee. The bill would create methods to address the issue of recruitment and retention of teachers in Colorado’s rural school districts. Methods include:

  • Establishing a rural education center in colleges located in rural districts;
  • Providing stipends to offset tuition costs for student teachers who are in approved educator preparation programs and will student teach in a rural district;
  • Establish a teacher cadet program in rural districts to identify and support high school students interested in teaching; and
  • Provide funds for a teacher in a rural district who will pursue National Board Certification.

See you next week at the Capitol! 

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