February 13, 2015
More than five weeks into the 2015 Colorado legislative session, school funding is still being debated in the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), student assessment reform has yet to reach a compromise between the Republican controlled state Senate and the Democratic controlled state House of Representatives, 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 an grassroots organizer of nearly all of the state’s 178 superintendents dedicated to restoring the nearly $900 million in statewide K-12 funding cuts experienced during the Great Recession. Please read the statement delivered to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee in November. Read the full Colorado Superintendent’s Position Statement on School Funding. The proposed state 2015-16 budget as well as the 2015-16 proposed amendments to the Colorado School Finance Act will not be introduced to the full legislature until after the March 20 state revenue forecast comes out. State budget drafters need to be as certain as possible that they are making sound revenue assumptions for the coming fiscal year before locking in their final proposed state government expenditures for the coming year.

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 are due to the legislature January 31. Senate Education Committee Chair Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and House Education Committee Chair Jerry Buckner (D-Aurora) are expected to lead an effort to explore the possibility of bipartisan consensus around testing reform. 

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 Feb. 10 story by reporter Todd Engdahl entitled, "Attorney general says “no” to testing waivers."

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​.​​​