K–12 Legislative Narrative
February 16–February 20, 2015
Despite full calendars, the legislature has slowed down this past week and has taken several days off due to holidays and inclement weather. The fiscal year 2014–2015 supplemental bills are still awaiting final legislative action before being sent to the Governor for signature into law. The majority of the interesting education-related discussion took place across the street at the State Board, but very little action came about from those meetings.
This coming week, the House Democrats will announce their workforce development platform and the legislature is slated to tackle a number of postsecondary and workforce readiness issues. The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) is still discussing adjustments to the budget and separate committee legislation for the next week, which includes several education-related funds and programs. The highly-anticipated fiscal year 2015–2016 figure-setting process for the departments of higher education and education won’t happen until March 3 and March 10, respectively.
State Board of Education Regular Meeting: February 2015
The State Board of Education met on Wednesday, February 18 and Thursday, February 19 for their regularly monthly meeting. Despite a full agenda, the SBE only tackled a small number of issues, made an even smaller number of actual motions and laid over a majority of their agenda until their next regular meeting on March 11 and 12, 2015.
Notable highlights from the meeting include:
1. Legislative Discussions: The SBE discussed SB15-173 Data Privacy (Sen. Holbert/Rep. Pabon) and voted to formally support HB15-1201 BOCES and Centralized Operating Grants (Reps. Rankin and Buckner/Sen. Todd). HB15-1201 creates a grant board within CDE and provides $10.0 million in funding to reduce operating overhead costs for eligible school districts and charter schools that use the BOCES to deliver operating services, thus increasing the amount of time available to the schools to support instruction.
2. CMAS Participation Waivers for Districts: After discussing CMAS testing waivers, the SBE voted to hold districts harmless if they don’t meet the 95 percent test participation threshold.
3. CMAS Cut Scores: The SBE has the authority to set cut scores and minimum competencies for the CMAS tests. Drafts of the cut scores were shared, discussed, and laid over for final action.
4. Common Core Standards: CDE staff answered CBE questions regarding the state’s academic standards and contract with Pearson for materials. Colorado statute is silent on a statewide withdrawal, but SBE member, Steve Durham (R, CO Springs), inquired if the national contract with Pearson can be ended. Staff responded that the contract is ‘subject to annual state appropriations’ and could essentially be ended through non-payment by the state legislature.
5. Graduation Guidelines: CDE staff reviewed progress on Graduation Guidelines, due for local board adoption in the 2015–2016 school year that ‘meet or exceed’ the state’s requirements. Several SBE members inquired if the guidelines could be shortened and simplified and complained the state was creating too burdensome a mandate on districts with the current proposal.
6. Social Studies Resolution: The SBE delayed voting on a resolution in support of the academic study of social studies. Several SBE members stated that ‘if you don’t test it, it’s not taught.’ A vote will be taken in March.
7. Parents’ Rights Resolution: The SBE delayed voting on a resolution that broadly supports parents’ rights and states parents should have greater control over their child’s academic decisions, including assessments, data privacy, and standards. A vote will be taken in March.
Review of Hearings this Week
- HB15-1146 CO Student Leaders Institute (Rep. Wilson) – Passed 10-1 to House Appropriations
o Creates the Colorado Student Leaders Institute, a competitive four-week summer residential education program for high school students at higher education institution campuses.
o State fiscal impact: seeking gifts, grants, and donations. Estimated annual state expenditures: $350–$450K and 1.0 FTE
- SB15-138 ASCENT Program Funding (Sen. Donovan) – Passed 9-0 to Senate Finance
o Removes ASCENT funding from the annual School Finance Act and instead appropriates funding directly to the CDE for allocation to local education providers. ASCENT program students are no longer counted in the funded pupil count for the LEP when calculating total program funding under the School Finance Act.
Upcoming Legislative Hearing Schedule
February 23–27, 2015
- Monday, February 23
o Colorado General Assembly’s 48th Day of 2015 Session - Cancelled Due to Snow
- Tuesday, February 24
o Senate Finance, 2:00 p.m., SCR354
§ SB15-138 ASCENT Program Funding (Sen. Donovan)
§ SB15-131 Success Collaborative for Foster Youth (Sen. Newell)
- Wednesday, February 25
o House Education, Upon Adjournment, HCR0112
§ HB15-1170 - Increasing Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (Reps. Kraft-Tharp and Wilson)
§ HB15-1184 - Charter School Networks Authority (Rep. Lontine)
§ HB15-1156 - Higher Education Performance Funding Resident Students (Rep. Van Winkle)
o Senate Education, Upon Adjournment, SCR356
§ SB15-173 School District Data Protection and Transparency (Sen. Holbert)
§ SB15-171 Sunset Private Occupational Education Act (Sen. Hill)
- Thursday, February 26
o Senate Finance, Upon Adjournment, SCR354
§ SB15-118 Modify Qualified State Tuition Program (i.e., College Invest) Tax Deductions (Sen. Merrifield))
* Live stream legislative hearings - http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/cslFrontPages.nsf/Audio?OpenPage