Please download a PDF of this week's Legislative Narrative here
February 24–28, 2014
The final week of February 2014 was filled with significant education bill introductions and committee hearings. On Friday, February 28, the State Board of Education also convened to discuss legislative issues and continued discussion on contentious, often partisan, issues surrounding student assessments and related legislation. Furthering the education legislation frenzy, the House took on school finance issues this week and introduced both HB14-1292, the Student Success Act, and HB14-1298, the fiscal year 2014–2015 School Finance Act. The House Education Committee is scheduled to hear testimony on both school finance measures this coming Monday, March 3.
The Student Success Act is classified by many as the ‘Son of 213’. SB13-213 is Senator Michael Johnston’s (D, Aurora) Future School Finance Act that was passed last session. This year’s HB14-1292 includes $100 million in recurring state funding to the State Education Fund, proposals for an Average Daily Membership system for counting student attendance, modifications to the state’s English Language Learner and early childhood reading programs, a proposal for ‘increased transparency’ in data reporting, additional funding for public and charter school capital construction. The Student Success Act also proposes $40 million in one-time appropriation to implement recently-enacted laws related to accountability, early literacy, education evaluation, and other programs. HB14-1298, the ‘traditional’ School Finance Act for fiscal year 2014–2015, sets a base statewide per-pupil funding amount of $6,121, adjusts the school finance Cost of Living Factor and school district bonded indebtedness calculations, establishes the amount of the Negative Factor for the coming budget year, provides 5,000 additional Colorado Preschool Program slots, and increases BOCES funding by $2 million.
After first hearing HB14-1202 on Monday, February 17, the House Education Committee took final action this Monday, February 24 on Representative Ray Scott’s measure regarding assessments and related education laws. The measure originally granted a plan to allow the State Board of Education to grant waivers to districts that have created their own student assessment plan. This week the House Education Committee approved two amendments that strike and re-write HB14-1202. The amended bill mandates a study of the common core standards and the statewide assessment system and also requires an analysis of how several education reform measures currently being implemented function together. The bill now awaits hearing by the House Appropriations Committee and has bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate.
School Finance Fiscal Year 2014–2015
- HB14-1292 (Sen. Johnston / Reps. Hamner and Murray) Student Success Act
- HB14-1298 (Sens. Kerr and Steadman / Reps. Buckner and Hamner) School Finance Act
This week both the Student Success Act and ‘traditional’ School Finance Act for fiscal year 2014–2015 were introduced by the House and assigned to House Education for hearing this Monday, March 3. Both measures are ‘For Action Only’, meaning legislators will hear testimony on Monday but not amendments and will not vote on the bills. Discussions between school districts and legislators are ongoing.
- HB14-1131 (Rep. Fields / Sens. Kefalas and Newell) Cyber Bullying
o On Monday, February 24, the House Education Committee voted 13-0 to move HB14-1131 to the House Appropriations Committee. The bill modifies Title 17, Colorado criminal law, with language that classifies the crime of harassment.
- HB14-1202 (Rep. Scott / Sens. Todd and Scheffel) Local Accountability Requirements for School Districts
o On Wednesday, February 26, the House Education Committee voted 13-0 to adopt a strike-below amendment to HB14-1202, rewriting the full bill, and passed the measure to House Appropriations for consideration of fiscal impacts. Issues around deadlines still remain. The bill now requires:
1. Creation of a task force to study the assessments, curriculum, cost of implementing assessments, timelines, and how those interface with educator evaluation and district accountability measures.
2. A look at the feasibility of a district waiver system and examine how local and state assessments work together.
3. A task force to be appointed by July 1, 2014 and the first task force meeting must take place by July 15, 2014.
4. The Senate President and Minority Leader, Speaker of the House and House Minority Leader, and Chairman of the State Board to ensure that task force members represent a variety of interests.
5. A report and any legislative recommendations, presented by the task force, to the Joint Education Committee no later than January 31, 2015. The bill also allows for different 'majority' and 'minority' task force reports, if necessary.
- SB14-150 (Sens. Todd and Zenzinger / Rep. Hamner): Colorado Counselor Corps Grant Program
o On Thursday, February 27, the Senate introduced SB14-150, a measure adjusting and expanding the Colorado Counselor Corps Grant Program. This bill has the support of the Colorado School Counselor Association. The Counselor Corps Grant Program was created in 2008 by HB08-1370 for the purpose of providing effective school-based counselors to high-need students across Colorado. To date, the program has provided almost 150 licensed school counselors to 126 schools in 59 districts serving over 100,000 students statewide. Enrollment and completion of academic, postsecondary, and career and technical courses has increased in these schools by 284%, or 83,396 students. The bill expands the considerations for eligible grant recipients and appropriates additional funding, currently $5 million annually and the bill proposes $10 million annually, to increase the number of available counselor corps counselors statewide.
Bills Signed by the Governor
This week, Governor Hickenlooper began signing 2014 bills into law. Bills adjusting school district supplemental state funding for the current fiscal year 2013–2014 were signed. These bills appropriate $15.9 million in state funding to cover 2,788 additional students above projected enrollment counts and $36.9 million to account for decreases in the amount of property and specific ownership tax revenues available to school districts. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) also provided additional funding to districts impacted by the September 2013 floods, adjusting for increases in transportation costs and decreases in student count funding resulting from issues with student counts on October 1, 2013.
- HB14-1234 (JBC) Supplemental Appropriation to Colorado Department of Education
- HB14-1250 (JBC) School District Payments for Floods and Total Program
- HB14-12 51 (JBC) School Finance FY2013-14 Adjustments
Governor Hickenlooper also signed SB14-004, the bill that allows the Colorado Community College System to develop CCHE-approved Bachelors of Applied Sciences degree programs.
- SB14-004 (Sen. Todd / Rep. Wilson) Community College 4-Year Degrees
Bills Killed in Committee
- HB14- 1201 (Rep. Priola / Sen. Lambert) Align Highest PERA Average Salary with Other States
o On Wednesday, February 26, the House Judiciary Committee killed HB14-1201 on a party-line vote of 7-6, with Democrats voting against the bill. The measure is an annually-introduced attempt to modify benefit calculations for the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA). For anyone who was not a member, inactive member or retiree of PERA as of December 31, 2014, HB14-1201 would have increased the number of highest average salaries from 3 to 5 when calculating that members’ retirement benefit amount.
Upcoming Hearing Schedule
- Monday 3/3
o House Education, 1:30 p.m., HCR0112
§ HB14-1298 (Reps. Hamner and Buckner) Financing of Public Schools - Witness Testimony Only
§ HB14-1292 (Reps. Hamner and Murray) The Student Success Act - Witness Testimony Only
o Senate Judiciary, 1:30 p.m., SCR356
§ HB14-1110 (Sen. Hodge) School Boards and Executive Session
- Wednesday 3/5
o House Education, Upon Adjournment, HCR0112
§ SB14-112 (Reps. Duran and Gerou) Public School Capital Construction Assistance Fund Appropriation
- Thursday 3/6
o Joint Budget Committee, Upon Adjournment and 1:30 p.m., JBC Hearing Room
§ FY14-15 Figure Setting Colorado Department of Education
o Senate Education, 1:30 p.m., SCR356
§ HB14-1208 (Sens. King and Zenzinger) Authorizing Multi-District Administrative Units
- Friday 3/7
o House Appropriations, 7:30 a.m., LSB-A
§ HB14-1131 (Rep. Fields) Cyber Bullying