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Rep. Solano gets a win

Lame-duck Rep. Judy Solano has had something of a rough 2011 session, failing in an effort to cut back on state testing to shift funding to the state preschool program and being on the losing side of House votes on the early childhood literacy bill.

But the Brighton Democrat got some satisfaction Monday when the House voted 60-0 for her House Bill 12-1261. The measure would continue a set-to-expire state program that pays stipends to all nationally board certified teachers and a bonus to such teachers who work in low-performing schools.Even though the program’s been on the books since 2008, no state funds ever have been spent on it because of tight budgets and because the program is “subject to available appropriations.” Solano’s bill proposes spending $1.6 million for the stipends in 2012-13. The actual amount won’t be determined until after the legislature sorts out the 2012-13 budget and sees how much money it has. (Get more details in this legislative staff fiscal note.)

Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, also saw persistence pay off Monday when the House gave preliminary approval to her House Bill 12-1043. As originally drafted, the measure would have created a new concurrent enrollment program for high school seniors who need less than a full load of courses to graduate. The bill would have allowed them to take college classes at school district expense.

The idea caused a lot of heartburn for school district lobbyists, who were concerned about the potential costs. After extensive negotiations and amendments, there was “a meeting of the minds,” Conti said Monday.

The amended bill basically just requires school districts to better inform students about dual enrollment opportunities when counselors work with students on their individual careers and academic plans.

The House gave final approved to two other education-related bills:

  • House Bill 12-1224 upgrades Colorado Mesa University’s admissions classification to “moderately selective.” Passed 61-0.
  • Senate Bill 12-067 requires that charter schools be independently registered as non-profit organizations. It’s intended to prevent for-profit charter companies from operating schools that don’t have independent local boards. Passed 62-0.

The Senate managed to avoid any education-related business Monday. Senate Bill 12-015, the undocumented students tuition bill, was supposed to come up for a final floor vote. But Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, had it delayed again because some senators who wanted to be there for the vote were absent Monday. The bill’s now on the calendar for April 9.

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.