The Colorado legislature is officially in the home stretch, with less than one month before session comes to a close. In the next 26 days, a number of contentious bills will be addressed, including legislation around ninth grade testing and Colorado’s hospital provider fee. Stay tuned as we continue to report on the latest developments happening under the Gold Dome. Interested in learning more about current legislation from a teacher’s perspective? Check out some of our recent blogs written by Colorado educators.
Under the Gold Dome
HB16-1423 by Reps. Alec Garnett (D-Denver) and Paul Lundeen (R-Monument) flew through the House this week after gaining unanimous approval. The bill, which now heads to the Senate, would to give guidelines to schools and districts about how they should maintain the security of a student’s personally identifiable information. Not only would software providers be unable to sell such information, the bill also sets requirements around student data is destroyed after a contract ends. Chelsea Henkel, Stand’s Policy Manager, testified in support of HB 1423.
On April 15, the Senate approved the final version of the 2016-17 Long Bill (Colorado’s budget) on a 29-5 vote after a lengthy discussion on the previous day. The JBC had presented a last-minute amendment requested by the Governor’s Office that would shift $3 million to fund a private prison in jeopardy of closing. While several legislators expressed concerns about using a large portion of state dollars to fund a private prison, others described the importance of supporting a rural community. Colorado’s $27 billion state budget is responsible for funding our state’s numerous departments and agencies.
This week, two bills pertaining to charter school funding were introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Senate Education Committee—we expect them to be scheduled for a hearing next week. SB16-187 and SB16-188 are both sponsored by Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Reps. Angela Williams (D-Denver) and Lang Sias (R-Arvada). As an overview, SB 188 would require districts to share revenues from mill levies equally between traditional and charter schools, while SB 187 seeks to allow charter schools to submit school performance plans every two years, rather than annually. Charter schools are public schools just like any other district-run school.
The House Education Committee is expected to discuss HB16-1099 by Rep. Joseph Salazar (D-Thornton) on April 18. The bill seeks to repeal the mutual consent provision of SB 191 and initiate “forced placement” of teachers. If this bill were enacted, districts that undergo a reduction-in-force (RIF) due to budget changes or lower school enrollment would be required to “force place” teachers at a new schools regardless of whether the school or teacher felt comfortable with the placement. Mutual consent offers RIF’d teachers professional development, priority access to the hiring process, and a salary for 18 months while they look for a new position. Forced placement is a bad policy for schools, teachers, and students. Staff at Stand for Children have been closely monitoring this bill and will testify in opposition to HB 1099. To learn more about mutual consent from a teacher’s perspective, click here.