Wednesday marked the halfway point of the legislative session — that means things will really start speeding up in what’s already been an exciting session. The legislature made some important decisions regarding funding for next year’s state education fund and full-day kindergarten. Read on to find out what’s happening…
Full-Day Kindergarten Moves Ahead
There is finally a bill draft for full-day kindergarten that will be introduced by Representatives Wilson and McLachlan! Sponsors are looking to introduce this bill as soon as possible. Some details:
- Currently each kindergarten student is funded at .58 FTE by the state. With this bill, each student enrolled in a full-day program will be counted as 1.0 FTE. The funding for this will be place within the school finance formula.
- Each school district newly implementing full-day kindergarten will be provided at one-time implementation funding equal to .05 multiplied by the number of children in full-day kindergarten in the district. This funding will be provided outside of the school finance formula.
- This bill would prevent schools from using ECARE slots for full-day kindergarten, but would allow those districts to retain those ECARE slots to use for full or half-day preschool.
- Prevents school districts from charging parents tuition or fees for full-day kindergarten.
- Requires local school boards to develop a plan to potentially provide for full-day kindergarten, but does not require them to implement.
- Requires the Colorado Department of Education to average per pupil enrollment over the last four years in order to address challenges for declining enrollment districts.
Great Education Colorado continues to take part in the Kindergarten Now coalition with the Governor’s office, offering feedback and supporting this effort to increase funding for kindergarten students across Colorado. There will be an advocacy day at the Capitol for FDK on April 2.
Bills We’re Watching
HB19-1055 Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance passed through House Finance on Monday with amendments. It will next be seen in House Appropriations, but does not have a scheduled date yet. Great Education Colorado supports this bill, sponsored by Representative Shannon Bird, because it would increase the dollars going towards capital construction by allowing marijuana tax dollars to be used to finance bigger projects through the BEST program.
HB19-1190 Repeal of Mill Levy Equalization Fund was killed on Tuesday in House Education, 12-1. Great Ed was monitoring this bill. The intent of the bill was to repeal the mill levy equalization fund through which the general assembly appropriated money to the state charter school institute.
HB19-128: JBC Supplemental Bill
We’ve fought — and won — additional funding for schools with the JBC’s supplemental bill. This is an unusual fight, as the supplemental bill is generally not something that is amended or brings any concern from the rest of the legislature. What happened? Click here to learn more.
What’s Coming Up?
HB19-1194 School Discipline For Preschool Through Second Grade will be heard in House Education on Thursday, March 14. This bill would put strict limitations around the expulsion and suspension of students kindergarten through second grade. This is an issue of critical concern, especially because it impacts students disproportionately based on race. Great Ed supports the concept and values behind this bill, but is only monitoring presently because, without significant funding to provide for social-emotional interventions, professional development and other critical tools to address the needs of students, it is currently an unfunded mandate.