House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, Friday introduced a revised charter school regulation bill, proposing the issues of charter school and authorizer standards be studied by an appointed commission for nearly a year and then decided by the State Board of Education.
The quality of charter school management and the rigor of charter authorization have been the subject of debate since the problems of the Pueblo-based Cesar Chavez Charter Network came to a head last year. (See Education News Colorado coverage of the controversy.)
Improvements in standards are a priority for the Colorado League of Charter Schools, the state Charter School Institute and such national groups as the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.
Carroll, a long-time charter supporter, introduced three bills on the issue earlier this session. House Bill 10-1343 proposes charter quality standards, House Bill 10-1344 sets out quality standards for authorizers and House Bill 10-1345 would grant a school board and the institute “the ability to request from the commissioner of education the power for an external entity to have control over a charter school that is considered to be in an emergency situation.”
But weeks of talks among various interest groups reportedly have failed to bring agreement on the detailed language in the first two bills and the new measure, House Bill 10-1412, is apparently the compromise that Carroll is proposing to replace them.
The bill creates a 13-member commission that will be appointed by Oct. 31 and have until Aug. 1, 2011, to make recommendations to the State Board of Education for school and authorizer standards. The bill also gives the board power to issue regulations in those two areas. The measure directs the commission to divide into two subcommittees, one to study school standards and one to focus on authorizer issues.
As is usual in situations where there are several contending interests, the bill lays out the appointment process for the board and the qualifications of its members in minute detail.
The speaker of the House will appoint a charter leader, a charter founder or board member, a charter administrator with finance expertise and a charter parent. (Although he’s term-limited, Carroll will remain speaker through the Oct. 1 appointment deadline.)
The president of the Senate will appoint a school board member from a district with exclusive chartering authority, a school district administrator with charter experience, a charter teacher and a member of a national organization with expertise in charter authorizing standards.
The minority leader of the House will appoint a public school parent who serves on a district accountability committee, and the minority leader of the Senate will appoint a board member from a district that shares chartering authority with CSI.
The governor will appoint a member of the CSI board and a school district administrator with authorizing experience, and the state board will appoint somebody to represent the Department of Education.
And just to make things trickier, the bill says, “the composition of the committee shall reflect, to the extent practicable, Colorado’s ethnic, racial, and geographic diversity.”
No hearing date has been set for the bill but the House Education Committee does have a light agenda on Thursday.
Fridays at the Capitol usually are a little looser than other days of the week, and this Friday was lively with observance of “College Day,” when lawmakers wear their school sweatshirts and rib each other about the qualities of their respective colleges. (The day is part of the CollegeInColorado promotion designed to get more high school students interests in college.)
But some work did get done, particularly in the House.
Arts in schools bill
The House voted 42-21 to reject Senate amendments to House Bill 10-1273, Rep. Mike Merrifield’s arts in the schools measure. The Senate had amended the bill to make it more of a “recommendation” bill. The measure will go to conference committee (get background here).
School data reporting bill
An otherwise unremarkable measure, House Bill 10-1171, has generated a little conflict in the last few weeks and a conference committee Friday added another twist to the story.
The bill would eliminate a handful of reports that school districts have to make to the Department of Education. The wrangling involves the Colorado Education Association and a report titled CDE-18. That’s a six-page summary of their budgets that districts and other education agencies have to submit to CDE once a year.
School districts find the report a hassle to compile and CDE officials have repeatedly said nobody asks for the data except CEA.
The bill would have eliminated CDE-18 but Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, recently won passage of a Senate floor amendment to restore it.
The conference committee vote 5-1 to propose a version of the bill with the CDE-18 requirement removed. Hudak was the only no vote.
2010-11 budget goes to the governor
The House and Senate on Friday both agreed to conference committee amendments to House Bill 10-1376, the 2010-11 state budget, and re-passed the bill. The Senate vote was 23-12, and the House approved it 38-24.
On another budget matter, the House voted 55-8 to go to conference committee on House Bill 10-1383, which would transfer about $45 million out of a CollegeInvest scholarship program to state need-based scholarships and to the state general fund.
Why legislators dread Friday mornings
With the budget out of way, it’s time for the House and Senate appropriations committees to tackle the long list of spending bills that have been stacking up on their calendars. Some bills don’t make it out of the 7:30 a.m. Friday sessions.
Hudak went 1-1 in Senate Appropriations Friday. She asked that the committee kill her Senate Bill 10-005, intended to ensure high-quality services for poor children who move from preschool to kindergarten. Neither of the sources of federal money she’d hoped for panned out. The committee obliged her.
The committee did vote 6-4 to pass her Senate Bill 10-054, which as amended would require four hours a week of education be provided to juveniles locked up in county jails. This one faces an uncertain future, though.
Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, also got lucky with her Senate Bill 10-039, which passed 7-3. It would create a $1 million program for job retraining scholarships. The money would come from the money that’s being taken from CollegeInvest (see HB 10-1383 above).
Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.