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State board hikes license fees

The State Board of Education Wednesday voted unanimously to increase educator license fees, in some cases by more than 30 percent.

The hikes include:

  • A jump of $10 for a one-year substitute authorization, taking the fee to $40.
  • A hike of $20 for all other licenses and authorizations, taking those to $80.
  • A new $20 charge for renewal of an added endorsement.

The increases are effective March 1.

Colorado Department of Education

Colorado Department of Education

The new charges come as the Department of Education has been struggling with a lengthening backlog of license applications, caused by a growing number of applications, additional background checks required by the legislature and antiquated technology.

The increased revenue will be used to help pay for technology upgrades that are due to be finished by July 1 and for additional staff. (See the CDE staff background paper on this issue.)

Even with the increase, Colorado’s fees are lower than those in many other states and are smaller than some trade license fees charged by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

Board Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, said he wasn’t entirely happy with the increase because he feels the legislature should kick in more state general fund dollars for licensing.

“It’s not going to happen,” said member Elaine Gantz Berman, D-1st District, noting the state’s budget shortfall.

Schaffer wondered if the decision could be put off a month.

“We have a very strong sense of urgency from districts across the state … people are saying raise it as fast as you can,” said Deputy Commissioner Diana Sirko. Districts have complained that licensing slowdowns have delayed hiring of teachers.

“Every meeting I’ve been to I’ve been hammered” about this, said Marcia Neal, R-3rd District. “I just think we have to do this.”

Jane Goff, D-7th District, said, “I believe we need to get this going now.”

A bill was introduced earlier this week in the legislature that also is intended to address the backlog. House Bill 11-1201 would streamline some of the applicant checks that CDE has to make and also give the department authority to spend its fee revenue without annual approval by the legislature.

The board’s Wednesday agenda stretched across a full day. In other action the board:

• Voted 6-1 to return the Loveland Classical Schools’ charter application to the Thompson school board for reconsideration.

• Received a briefing on a new study of rural school districts that suggests state officials need to pay more attention to rural needs and that state law perhaps needs to be changed to encourage small districts to consolidate or share services voluntarily. Text of report

• Heard a presentation on the just-completed study of the average daily membership method of counting district enrollment. Article

• Heard an update on the work of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness, which is due to make its final recommendations to the board in April.