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January 30, 2015

Education Issues Dominate Legislative Session Again
Education issues - especially PK-12 issues - again weigh heavily on the legislature's agenda this session. As always, funding remains a priority as a working group including nearly all of Colorado's 178 school district superintendents continue to push for a further buy down of the negative factor. The "negative factor" was a legislative budgetary creation at the height of the Great Recession that allowed lawmakers to reduce what voter-approved Amendment 23 of 2000 required in annual increased funding to the level of state funds available. Eventually this impact grew to approximately $1 billion annually statewide ($35 million to BVSD) in unmet funding to Colorado schools. During the 2014 legislative session, a grassroots effort led by more than 170 Colorado superintendents along with statewide school board member, school executive, and teacher organizations, as well as advocacy groups such as Great Education Colorado led to an initial $110 million annual buy down of the shortfall caused by the negative factor's use. That still leaves just less than $900 million annually that has yet to make it to Colorado school districts.

Besides the usual annual funding debates, the Colorado General Assembly is tackling the question of assessment reform in Colorado schools as increased testing is impacting instructional time and increasing administrative overhead to districts across the state. As the highlighted ChalkbeatCOLORADO online article in this week's bulletin points out, there are already five bills and a state task force report circulating at the State Capitol. It is not yet clear which of these five bills, if any of them, will achieve the bipartisan backing necessary to pass the Democratic controlled House and the Republican controlled Senate. Student data privacy legislation is starting to be introduced and bills concerning enhanced student safety are expected. February will be a busy month for consideration of these important topics. In March the six-member (three senators and three representatives) Joint Budget Committee (JBC), which drafts the initial recommended budget, will introduce the proposed 2015-16 state budget - referred to as the "Long Bill" - for debate and action.

These weighty education issues combined with the rest of the legislative agenda including areas such as higher education, human services, corrections, transportation, etc. will more than fill the 120 days that the Colorado constitution allows these 35 state senators and 65 state representatives to complete their work each year.

BVSD Communications is grateful to ChalkbeatCOLORADO co-founder Alan Gottlieb for his kind permission to cite stories in this exceptional online news publication. It 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 January 30 story by reporter Todd Engdahl entitled, ​"Task force report kicks off legislative testing debates."

Policy Matters
Current update on bills currenty supported, opposed and monitored by BVSD.

2015 BVSD Legislative Platform.pdf2015 BVSD Legislative Platform 
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. 

Contact your legislators
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​.​