This week ushered in some warm spring weather, a little snow, and plenty of activity at the Capitol. Most notably, a public education accountability bill began making its way through the House. More on that and other updates below.
On Monday, HB-1355, Public Education Accountability System (Rep. B. Pettersen, D-Lakewood; Rep. L. Sias, R-Arvada; Sen. B. Gardner, R-Colorado Springs; Sen. D. Moreno, D-Commerce City), was passed unanimously by the House Education Committee. As Chalkbeat reported this week, the accountability bill would “raise the bar for low-performing Colorado schools and districts to avoid state intervention, allow state officials to step in with help earlier, and give greater voice to parents.” SB-011, Students Excused From Taking State Assessments (Sen. C. Holbert, R-Parker; Sen. A. Kerr, D-Lakewood; Rep. T. Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada; Rep. P. Lundeen, R-Monument), was also sent to the Governor. If signed, the bill would prohibit excluding any students who opt out of taking a standardized test from any rewards that a school might offer to students participating in state assessments.
A bill to repeal Columbus Day as a state holiday (HB-1231; Rep. A. Benavidez, D-Brighton), was referred with amendments to the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, The House Committee on Public Health Care & Human Services referred HB-1306, Improving Educational Stability For Foster Youth, sponsored by Rep. Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City), was referred to the Appropriations Committee.
HB-1379, a public school finance bill sponsored by Representative Pettersen (D-Lakewood), Representative Wilson (R-Salida), and Senator Hill (R-Colorado Springs) that would increase per pupil funding was introduced in the House and assigned to the Education Committee on Wednesday. SB-158, School Access To Interoperable Communication Technology (Sen. D. Coram, R-Montrose; Sen. L. Garcia, D-Pueblo; Rep. C. Duran, D-Denver; Rep. M. Catlin, R-Montrose), was also introduced and referred to the Education Committee. Additionally on Wednesday, SB-085, Financial Incentives For Education in Rural Areas (Sen. N. Todd, D-Aurora; Rep. B. McLachlan, D-Durango), was referred with amendments to the Senate Committee of the Whole and SB-175, Prohibit Paid Union Activity by Public Employees (Sen. B. Gardner, R-Colorado Springs; Rep. P. Lundeen, R-Monument) was postponed indefinitely.
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education referred SB-228, Improving School Choice in Traditional Schools (Sen. O. Hill, R-Colorado Springs; Rep. K. Van Winkle, R-Highlands Ranch), unamended to the Senate Committee of the Whole. The bill would allow school districts to transport any student, even those who don’t live in the same or adjacent district, to its district.
Upcoming next week: the Finance Committee will look at SB-200, Modifications to PERA Public Employees’ Retirement Association to Eliminate Unfunded Liability (Sen. J. Tate, R-Centennial; Sen. K. Priola, R-Henderson; Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder; Rep. D. Pabon, D-Denver); and the House Education Committee will review HB-1232 New School Funding Distribution Formula (Rep. D. Young, D-Greeley; Sen. D. Coram, R-Montrose; Sen. A. Kerr, D-Lakewood).