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Across the Street column: Some of the bills important to the Board of Education

Joyce Rankin
Across the Street

Joyce Rankin
Larry Laszlo |

As a member of the state Board of Education representing all of western Colorado and Pueblo and Huerfano counties, I’m traveling extensively and learning about the uniqueness of each school district and its community. In addition, my position as a legislative aide allows me to keep an eye on education-related bills and stay current with what legislators are thinking about education. My work in both areas is complementary.

The state budget (HB16-1405) was signed into law by the governor last Tuesday. K-12 schools will receive inflation and enrollment adjustments for the next fiscal year, July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. This will be an increase in per pupil spending over last year’s budget. In most states, the executive branch initiates the budget; however, in Colorado the Joint Budget Committee is responsible for writing the annual appropriations bill known as The Long Bill. This year, the six member committee worked hard to come to a consensus, allocate more money to education, and present a balanced budget.

As of today, over 100 bills affecting education have been introduced in this session. One bill of note includes the Student Data Privacy Bill, HB 16-1423. Ever since technology became a part of education, parents have become more and more concerned about the security of a student’s personal information. This can include, grades, addresses, IDs, behavioral issues, suspensions or opinions. The bill brought before the Legislature this year requires software companies who collect this data to destroy it, not just delete it, unless authorized by contract to maintain it. The Colorado bill has been touted as the toughest in the nation.

This week I will attend the monthly state Board of Education meeting. On the agenda is a discussion about educator effectiveness and metric reporting. This is a continuing discussion of SB10-191 that changes the way educators are evaluated in Colorado. It is intended to support professional growth and accelerate student results. The reporting and documentation of this information is a concern to educators. Following the law any accompanying rules must protect individual privacy.

Also on the May agenda is a grant program financed by marijuana tax revenue (Proposition BB) to prevent school bullying. Part of the responsibility of the state board is to promulgate rules for laws passed by the Legislature. The rules for “bullying” grant applications will be discussed and promulgated at this, or possibly the June, meeting.

Since the April board meeting I’ve spent a day at Pueblo 60 school district and attended their school board meeting. I also attended the West Slope Superintendent’s Conference in Grand Junction and will spend a day touring schools and attending graduation ceremonies with Mesa County School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz next Friday.

The Department of Education has embarked on a statewide Every Student Succeeds Act listening tour. It will be interesting to see what comes from this.

I continue to be inspired by the challenges of this job. Please let me know your thoughts and concerns: joycesrankin@gmail.com.

Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.


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