Legislative Update: March Madness (not the basketball variety) Tees Up What Promises to Be a Frantic Final Month

We'd like to provide legislative updates as we usher in spring. With spring breaks now largely in the rearview, we hope this period offered you and your school community some well-deserved rest and respite as we enter the final stretch of the school year. 

With just over a month to go, the Colorado General Assembly has also entered its final stretch. Two weeks ago, the Joint Budget Committee diligently worked to finalize the budget, which went through the House last week. This precipitated some unexpected drama in the form of a fight over charter funding equity, which is why you received an action alert from us late last Wednesday asking you to contact your legislators. 

This was because, at the absolute last minute, charter opponents were trying to upend the agreement from last year's School Finance Act that called for full mill levy equalization funding for CSI schools starting next school year. HB24-1394 is the bill necessary to make that happen this year, and despite its strong bipartisan sponsorship, it was in danger of being derailed by charter opponents. 

We asked you to show up — AND YOU DID. Between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, nearly 1,000 emails went to House members from across the Colorado charter school community, and the damaging effort to take down HB1394 was dismissed. We're not clear yet, as certain individuals will pull any levers they can over the remaining month of the session to try and thwart funding equity for our students, but it was a good reminder of our collective strength when we stick together. THANK YOU to everyone who stood up and spoke out on this critical topic. 

Help Us in Opposing House Bill 1363
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HB24-1363 Charter Schools Accountability, sponsored by Representative Lorena Garcia, Representative Tammy Story, and Senator Lisa Cutter, has now been scheduled for Thursday, April 11, in the House Education Committee. If you haven’t already heard about this damaging piece of legislation, please be sure to contact legislators and do so TODAY.

This proposed legislation poses a significant threat to public charter schools' core functions and principles. At 55 pages, the bill is extensive. It contains numerous damaging provisions, but some of its most egregious include:

  • Enabling districts to adopt a moratorium on the further expansion of charter schools under certain circumstances;
  • Allowing local districts to revoke or close charter schools simply based on declining enrollment in the district;
  • Empowering individual community members to appeal local school board decisions on charter applications to the State Board, thereby authorizing anyone with an ideological bent against charter schools to challenge local school board decisions about them;
  • Removing the State Board’s final say on second appeals, basically eliminating the core checks-and-balances function against local board decisions that the State Board has fulfilled for the last 30 years, and
  • Entirely eliminating automatic waivers and the ability to access information about vacant or underused school district buildings and land.

HB24-1363 risks the autonomy that has enabled charter schools to excel and seriously undermines their capacity to cater to the diverse needs of our state's students. Through our ACT Advocacy Network, the charter school community statewide has already sent over 45,000 emails highlighting the detrimental effects HB1363 would have on students and families throughout Colorado. Let’s be sure to keep up the push until the 4/11 committee hearing.

Take Action Now

School Funding Formula Webinar THIS WEDNESDAY
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Join us this Wednesday, April 3, at 11 am for a webinar on the latest proposals related to possible changes to the school funding formula. Ever since the Public School Finance Task Force concluded its work and published its recommendations in January, conversations have occurred about how to take those recommendations and potentially translate them into law. With just a month to go in the legislative session, this is the latest proposal from the Speaker and the additional resources it could represent for your school.

The League’s Policy Agenda

Protecting Autonomy & Flexibility 
This year, one of our proactive pieces of legislation (SB24-132) seeks to extend privacy protections for educator evaluations, currently reserved for licensed teachers and administrators, to encompass all staff and educators. It garnered unanimous approval during its inaugural committee hearing and moved quickly through the full Senate. It was recently introduced in the House and will be heard in the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 3rd.

Also, in the realm of autonomy and flexibility, the League continues to fight to shield our schools from unwarranted PERA intervention concerning substitutes employed by third-party contractors.

Access and Affordability for Facilities
Another piece of our proactive agenda is a bill (HB24-1154) designed to eliminate any legal obstacles hindering school districts from sharing bond resources with CSI schools within their geographic boundaries. It successfully advanced through the House chamber and now awaits its first committee hearing in the Senate, currently scheduled for Monday, April 8. Stay tuned for updates as the bill continues its journey through the legislative process.

Other Legislation of Note

In addition to matters specific to the League, we are monitoring several other bills due to their potential impact on the charter sector and our students. Should you have any questions or insights regarding any of the following bills, please do not hesitate to reach out to us:

  • SB24-188 Public School Finance
    In addition to eliminating the so-called Budget Stabilization Factor (thereby formalizing a 6.6% increase to PPR for next year), the bill also introduces rural funding to the district's total program formula, allocating extra funding to small and large rural districts. It mandates the state treasurer to transfer $15,715,539 from the state education fund to the mill levy override match fund. While current law requires a new at-risk measure in the public school funding formula to be implemented in the 2024-25 budget year, the bill postpones this implementation to the 2025-26 budget year. SB188 passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee last week and now awaits action in Senate Approps. 
  • HB24-1247 Digital Education Materials
    Starting July 1, 2024, the bill mandates that contracts between a public school or district and a digital education provider incorporate a termination clause. This clause allows for the contract to be terminated if, on three separate occasions, the provider allows access to material deemed harmful to students as per the bill's definition.

    Parents, staff members, volunteers, and students can report instances of accessing harmful materials to the school. The digital education provider must be informed of such reports within one business day and is required to remove the contentious material from their collection promptly. Additionally, schools must guide parents on how to report any harmful content they encounter. The bill is scheduled for its first committee hearing this Thursday, April 4.

  • HB24-1376 Expand Teacher Mentorships
    The teacher mentor grant program currently offers funding for collaborations between local education entities and educator preparation programs. This funding supports training and provides stipends to experienced teachers who mentor teacher candidates during their clinical practice. The bill extends the grant program's reach to encompass mentorship for novice teachers with less than 3 years of teaching experience. Also, it mandates that the general assembly allocate $500,000 to the Department of Higher Education for the 2024-25 state fiscal year grant program. 

    Many of our member schools have previously received grants in both funding rounds. This bill signifies an opportunity for our schools to access additional resources, allowing them to build, enhance, and fortify mentoring programs. This will ensure novice teachers receive comprehensive support to develop their instructional capabilities and effectiveness.

  • HB24-1307 HVAC Improvements for Public Schools
    The bill introduces new requirements for handling heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for all public schools and districts. When utilizing federal funds or a mix of federal and state funding earmarked specifically for HVAC improvements, schools (including charters) and districts must adhere to technical specifications for installing, inspecting, maintaining, reviewing, and reporting these systems.

    The bill offers opportunities for public schools to seek grants from various federal and state sources. The League is engaged with sponsors on our priority of preventing any unintended expansion of Davis-Bacon beyond current federal requirements.

  • HB24-1310 School Safety Measures
    This bill permits a school district, charter school, or board of cooperative services (local education provider) to employ or retain by contract a person as a school security officer only if:
    • The local education provider has a policy that governs security officers' engagement with students;
    • The person completes school security officer or school resource officer training; and
    • The person undergoes a background check and a psychological evaluation.

      One of our concerns with this bill, as introduced, is that, under its current definitions, if you are doing any educational work that could be licensed, you can’t also be a school security officer. This is a problem for smaller schools, especially in rural communities, where they may feel they need a person who can act, in effect, as a part-time school security officer. The statute bars this and does not do so in a way that clarifies why this limitation exists. We are pursuing amendments to address this. The bill has been rescheduled for its first committee hearing on Thursday, April 18.
  • SB24-162 Best Practices to Prevent Discrimination in Schools
    Senate Bill 23-296 required CDE to develop training for school staff regarding harassment and discrimination policies. 

    SB24-162 modifies these requirements by requiring CDE to contract with an organization to develop best practices and training. A designated evaluation committee, comprising members from CDE, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), and the Office of School Safety in the Department of Public Safety (DPS), will select this organization. 

    The organization is tasked with designing a harassment and discrimination training curriculum for schools. By April 1, 2025, this program must be submitted to the CDE, which will subsequently offer it to public schools free of charge

Advocacy Resources 
State and Federal Policy Updates (Members Only) 

Exclusively for members, we offer weekly State and Federal Policy Update calls every Friday from 12:00-12:30 PM during the legislative session. If you desire real-time updates and discussions, these calls are an excellent opportunity to stay informed and engaged! Updates started on January 12th and will run through the end of the session in early May. Register now.

Bill Tracker (Members Only)

During the Colorado legislative session, we keep an updated summary of bills currently in the legislature that affect charter schools. In addition to a bill number, title, and description, we include each bill’s last dated action and a link to its fiscal note. Color codes offer easy identification of those bills that have been sent to the governor, signed into law, or postponed indefinitely. Log in to view the latest bill tracker.

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ACT Network: Act for Charters Today

The League's Act for Charters Today (ACT) Advocacy Network is the group and process through which we activate and engage our public charter school families, parents, students, and staff for the common good. This action-oriented network strives to build knowledge, skills, and power to strengthen and support charter schools throughout the state.

Our advocacy efforts are focused on state policies and district initiatives that ensure all Colorado children deserve access to high-quality public school options, including charter schools. Build your charter school knowledge and advocacy skills while taking part in a powerful and influential community statewide that intercedes on behalf of our schools and, more importantly, our students. We’ll give you everything you need to make taking action for charters quick and easy!

Sign Up for ACT Today!


Thank you for staying tuned to our legislative updates! Your engagement and advocacy make a meaningful impact on the future of charter schools in Colorado. Together, we shape a brighter educational landscape for all. Until next time, stay informed and empowered!


Angelina Sierra-Sandoval, MPA
Director of Government Affairs, Colorado League of Charter Schools 

[email protected]