November 2023 Legislative Update: The Latest News and Updates!

Dear Legislative Update followers,

As November unfolds, we are pleased to present the latest legislative update from the League. In this edition, we are excited to share a draft of our 2024 Legislative Agenda

We seek your feedback on this agenda as we strive to shape policies that best serve our charter school community. Additionally, we summarize the recently convened special session, highlighting key developments and their implications for our schools. Your engagement and input are integral to our advocacy efforts, so please don’t hesitate to reach out anytime with questions or feedback.

Legislative Policy Agenda 

The 2024 Legislative Session is just around the corner. The pandemic exposed how a one-size-fits-all public education system does not work for every student and family. With this perspective in mind, the League advances its policy work each year, consistent with our vision for all Colorado students to have access to high-quality public school options.

We are committed to advancing policies that strengthen charter schools, foster educational excellence, and provide families with the public school options that best meet their children’s needs. While some of our foremost priorities are listed below, you can access the complete DRAFT 2024 Legislative Agenda here.

  • Funding equity
  • Facilities access and affordability
  • Autonomy and flexibility

Our member schools play a critical role in developing our annual agenda through their engagement with us. Your insights are invaluable in ensuring that our advocacy efforts align with the needs and aspirations of our students, teachers, and communities. Together, we can make a meaningful difference for the 137,000 students across our more than 260 public charter schools. Send us an email with your thoughts and feedback ([email protected])! The League’s board will vote to finalize this agenda at their next regularly scheduled meeting on December 12.

Special Session 

Last Monday, the Colorado General Assembly concluded the special legislative session, which Governor Polis called to provide property tax relief in light of the failure of Proposition HH. In addition to property tax relief, lawmakers provided additional relief to low-income populations and renters in the whirlwind four-day session.

Impact on Schools

The major property tax relief bill, SB23B-001, reduces the residential assessment rate for the 2023 tax year to 6.7% from 6.765%. It also exempts the first $55,000 in a home’s value from taxation. The act also outlines a reimbursement schedule for local governments that will see a decline in revenue based on population size and assessed value growth for different government entities, prioritizing ambulance, health, fire districts, and specific service-dependent local governments. School districts will be reimbursed with general fund dollars that were set aside in the 2023 legislative session.

Alongside the one-year tax relief legislation, the General Assembly created a task force to study and develop a permanent and sustainable property tax structure in HB23B-1003. The task force, dubbed the Commission on Property Tax, is responsible for identifying the causes of increasing property taxes, reviewing best practices for short- and long-term property tax relief, and making recommendations. Membership of the task force was intensely debated during the special session, with concerns raised that there was not enough local representation. The final act outlines a 19-member commission, including legislators, the property tax administrator, small and large local government representation, members of the business community, and others. The task force must meet twice monthly between December 2023 and February 2024 and make recommendations by March 2024.

Finally, in the only bipartisan effort of the special session, lawmakers passed SB23B-002, which created the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) for Children Program. The League took pride in supporting this legislation, recognizing its potential to benefit thousands of students enrolled in charter schools. The program will be managed by the Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) but will be entirely federally funded. Each eligible low-income student will receive a monthly food stipend of $40 through an electronic benefits card in the summer months. CDHS is responsible for developing program rules, conducting outreach to households and organizations, and distributing the benefits to qualified households. CDE must conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to school food authorities to ensure the program reaches eligible households.

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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!

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Angelina Sierra-Sandoval
Director of Government Affairs, Colorado League of Charter Schools 
[email protected]