Facebook Twitter

Yes on concussion bill, no on outsourcing

A bill intended to raise awareness about concussions in young athletes advanced in the legislature Monday while a measure designed to encourage outsourcing of school services met its expected demise.

That made it a good news/bad news day for Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and prime sponsor of both measures.

Senate Bill 11-040, by Spence and Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing concussion symptoms, require an athlete be removed from practice or a game if a coach suspects a concussion, and also require such athletes be medically evaluated and have written clearance before returning to play.

It applies only to sports involving middle and high school-age children. The bill proposes neither penalties nor reporting requirements to ensure compliance. It received preliminary Senate approval Monday.

Spence’s other measure was Senate Bill 11-079, which would have required the state’s 20 largest school districts to obtain bids for outsourcing all non-instructional functions such as food service, janitorial and busing. Cost comparisons between outsourcing and district-run operations would have to be laid out at public meetings. It would have been up to school boards to decide whether to outsource or not.

Lobbyists for school districts, concerned about the cost of putting out all those requests for proposals, were gunning for this one from the start, and Democratic leaders in the Senate assigned the bill to the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee – traditionally the place where bills are sent to be killed.

That’s what happened Monday afternoon after the requisite testimony in opposition. Spence said, “I was trying to offer them (school districts) some political cover to do unpopular things.”

To add insult to injury for Spence, even the committee’s two Republicans, Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs and Kevin Grantham of Ordway, voted against the bill, which was postponed indefinitely on a 5-0 vote.

“I have a feeling over the next year that a lot of school districts will be doing this” because of the budget crunch, Spence predicted.

In other action Monday:

• The House gave preliminary approval to House Bill 11-1126, which would require public notice and meetings on school turnaround plans. Other parts of the bill that originally required districts to develop parent involvement plans have been significantly watered down.

• The House Education Committee voted 12-0 to pass House Bill 11-1201, which would streamline the state’s clogged educator licensing system by ending the requirement that the Department of Education independently verify completion of continuing education programs and by giving the department permission to spend license fee income without annual legislative approval.

• The Senate voted 32-2 on final approval of Senate Bill 11-012, which would allow school boards to adopt their own policies for student carrying and self-administration of prescription drugs. Districts that didn’t opt out would remain subject to existing state law on the issue.

• The Senate voted to agree to House amendments on Senate Bill 11-156, the 2010-11 budget balancing bill setting the general fund reserve at 2.3 percent. The House changes require that any revenue above 2.3 percent go to State Education Fund.

The Senate voted to reject House amendments and go to conference committee on Senate Bill 11-164, which transfers cash funds to the general fund, and Senate Bill 11-137, which affects the Department of Education. The disagreement on that measure is whether to cut some $750,000 from the Colorado Counselor Corps program.