March 27, 2015
Dear BVSD Weekly Legislative Update reader:

TWO THIRDS OF THE WAY THROUGH THE SESSION  LEGISLATORS WORK TO FIND CONSENSUS ON 2015 AGENDA
Today (3/27/2015) is the 80th day of the 120-day First Regular Session of the 70th Colorado General Assembly. The 120-day limit has been in the state constitution since voters approved that amendment in 1988. This means, barring an unexpected special session, the Republican controlled state Senate and the Democratic controlled state House have just 40 calendar days to complete an ambitious agenda regarding Colorado public education. School funding - the 2015-16 amendments to the 1994 Colorado School Finance Act - are headed to the full legislature within the next 7-10 days while the proposed 2015-16 state budget - known as "The Long Bill" - is expected to be introduced in the Senate next week. Student assessment reform has yet to reach a compromise between the Senate and the House. School safety reporting legislative debate has yet to begin, and bipartisan consensus about how to address likely 2015-16 TABOR refunds appears unlikely. Each of these issues is important to BVSD. Below are updates of where key issues originally explained in January by BVSD Superintendent Bruce Messinger currently stand.

FUNDING: During the past year, BVSD Superintendent Bruce Messinger has been working with other Colorado superintendents to develop a clearly stated position on this issue. Dr. Messinger currently serves as the legislative committee co-chair for the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and is a grassroots organizer of nearly all of the state’s 178 superintendents dedicated to restoring the almost $900 million in statewide K-12 funding cuts experienced during the Great Recession. Please read the Colorado Superintendent’s Position Statement on School Funding delivered to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee in November. 

TABOR: For the first time since before the Great Recession, state tax revenues are expected to grow faster than the rate allowed by the 1992 TABOR Amendment. This voter-approved constitutional amendment requires refunds of all state tax revenue above TABOR’s annual state growth formula (population plus inflation percentage growth). This requirement limits the ability of state government to lessen reductions during future economic downturns or to make up for previous state budget cuts. It is worth noting that a nonpartisan coalition of public education advocates has begun to form around a possible ballot initiative to suspend TABOR refunds with the tax dollars retained going to K-12 public education.

ASSESSMENTS: BVSD believes that there is benefit to using quality appropriate assessments to determine the performance of all students which should inform educational strategies, investment of resources and opportunities for students. However, present state assessment requirements are excessive and distract from quality instructional time. The final recommendations of the Colorado student assessment task force were released in January. Senate Education Committee Chair Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) recently introduced S.B. 215, which was endorsed by Governor Hickenlooper, business groups and the Colorado Children's Campaign. However, it has not gained the support of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) nor the Colorado Education Association (CEA). Each of those groups believe S.B. 215 falls short of the best assessment reform possible. Sen. Chris Holbert (R-Highlands Ranch) is expected to introduce a competing bill closer to what education associations are hoping for in 2015.

SCHOOL SAFETY: Legislation is being drafted requiring increased reporting of student discipline due to concerns by some legislators that Colorado’s school personnel do not consistently report discipline and there is a lack of public transparency. There is a significant challenge to establish common criteria, interpretation and reporting across all schools in Colorado. It is a fine balance between maintaining appropriate levels of privacy as students work through social/emotional issues with school personnel/family and the need for the public to know all activity that takes place in a school setting. This issue is not yet receiving the attention it is expected to receive.

To learn more about what guides the position that BVSD takes on legislative questions, read the 2015 BVSD Legislative Platform, which the Boulder Valley Board of Education adopted during its Dec. 9, 2014, regularly scheduled meeting.

ChalkbeatCOLORADO​ covers PK-20 education issues throughout Colorado including one of the most in-depth and accurate PK-12 daily news to be found anywhere during the session. 

This week, BVSD Communications draws your particular attention to a March 26 story by reporter Todd Engdahl entitled,​ "Testing opt-out bill passes Senate Education​." 

Current update on bills currently supported, opposed and monitored by BVSD.​

Each year the Boulder Valley Board of Education approves a legislative platform that sets the district’s legislative priorities and guides the BVSD contract lobbying firm, Policy Matters, LLC, led by veteran lobbyists Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Ernestine Mondragon. BVSD’s effort is overseen by Superintendent Bruce Messinger and Communications and Legislative Policy Director Briggs Gamblin. School board members Tina Marquis of Boulder and Jennie Belval of Broomfield serve as the seven-member school board’s legislative liaisons. 

A list of legislators whose districts are wholly or partially within the boundaries of BVSD. ​

View the Legislative Update homepage for access to past issues. If you have any comments or questions, please contact me at briggs.gamblin@bvsd.org​.​​​​​