Ready Colorado tracked over 50 education bills in the 2018 legislative session.  We helped pass student-centered policies and defeated attacks on school choice and accountability.

Here are a few highlights:

Charter School Institute (CSI) Equalization Funding—$5.5 million/year

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: These funds come on the heels of our historic charter equalization funding (HB17-1375) victory last session. While last year’s charter bill required that school districts share mill levy dollars with district-authorized charter schools, state-authorized charter school students still lacked access to equal funding. This year’s appropriation takes an important first step toward equalizing funding for schools authorized by Colorado’s statewide charter authorizer.

SB-118—Local School Board Authority Over Charter Schools

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Opposed/Killed
  • About the Bill: The bill would have removed important appeal rights from charter school applicants. This was a brazen attempt to stop new quality charter schools from opening by strenghtening the school district monopoly over education.

HB-1269—Parental Notification

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: The bill requires that schools notify parents when an employee has been charged with a serious crime. A previous rule from the State Board of Education was successfully defeated by the teachers union, but this year’s bill received almost unanimous support.

HB-1070—Additional School Capital Construction Funding

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: The bill allocates additional marijuana tax revenue to school capital construction. Twelve and half percent of this marijuana fund is allocated to charter school capital construction and the remainder goes into the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund, which is available to all public schools (charters included) on a competitive basis. This will add millions of dollars to the charter school capital construction fund each year.

HB-1306—Stability for Foster Kids and Removing Transportation Barriers for All Students

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: This bill uses federal funding to help provide transportation for foster children, so they can stay in the school of their choice. Importantly, the bill also provides flexibility to school districts to provide transportation to all students who “choice” into a district if they live outside its geographic boundaries. Before this bill, districts could prevent other districts from providing transportation across district lines.

HB-1355—Modernizing the State Accountability System

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: This bill helps ensure that schools are held accountable to families and taxpayers. It clarifies what happens to a failing district after year 5 of the accountability clock, allows parents to be more engaged in the process, and gives more flexibility for the State Board of Education to allow charter schools to be authorized in low-performing districts.

HB-1412—Retaining Teachers Grant Program

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: The bill provides a $3 million grant to school districts and charter schools administered by the state department to help them retain high quality teachers. Funds may be used for locally-created pay for performance systems.

SB-12—Military Enlistment School Performance Indicator

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Supported/Passed
  • About the Bill: SB-12 adds military enlistment to the school performance indicators. If a student enrolls in the armed forces within a year of graduation from high school, that school will receive recognition in its performance rating. Unfortunately, many Colorado students currently fail to qualify for military service because of academic deficiencies.   This bill helps make sure that graduates can serve if they choose to.

HB-1197—Student-Centered Pilot Accountability Systems

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Opposed/Killed
  • About the Bill: A clever title, but this bill would have greatly weakened tenure reforms and created a performance measurement system that would not be helpful to families making school choice decisions.The bill should have been called the “School Employee Union-Centered Pilot Accountability System.”

SB-8—Art Courses in Academic Performance Rating

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Opposed/Killed
  • About the Bill: The same bill from the 2017 session resurfaced sponsored by anti-reform Sen. Michael Merrifield (D). It again would have greatly undermined accountability by allowing schools to achieve higher academic performance ratings by simply offeringadditional art, dance, and music classes. The quality of those class offerings would have been irrelevant and student outcomes would not have been considered. Put simply, this bill would have again made Colorado’s rating system meaningless for parents.

HB-1222—Systematic Review of Education Programs

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Opposed/Killed
  • About the Bill: The bill sought to give government regulators unchecked authority to audit specific education programs that status quo groups oppose like charter schools. This was a blatant attempt to rollback tenure reform and limit school choice.

HB-1209—Prohibiting 529 plans for K-12 and HB-1221—Allowing 529 plans for K-12

  • ReadyCO Position/Outcome: Opposed 1209/Killed, Supported 1221/Killed
  • About the Bills: Both bills came on the heels of the federal tax reform bill that allowed states to use 529 savings accounts for K-12 educational expenses and private school tuition. HB-1209 sought to prohibit parents from using 529 accounts for K-12 expenses, and HB-1221 would have enabled parents to use those accounts for K-12. The bills were a clear line in the sand: Republicans unanimously supported allowing parents to use 529 plans for K-12 expenses and Democrats opposed.

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