From the Statehouse

K-12 cut now looks like $431 million

Thursday roundup
Tax sniping
New bills
For the record

Projected cuts in state aid to K-12 education next school year keep rising, and school administrators fear they will get even bigger.

Todd Herreid, a legislative staff analyst, told members of the House Education Committee Thursday that recent calculations indicate “a decrease in total program spending of at least $431 million compared to current law. This represents a decrease of 7.5 percent.”

Herreid made his comments as he presented the committee with a required annual report on the condition of the State Education Fund, kind of a piggy bank that is one of the sources of state aid to school districts. The report estimates that the SEF will be down to only about $6 million in 2010-11.

The estimated $431 million cut is more precise but is in the same ballpark as a rough estimate Herreid made in late December, when quarterly state revenue forecasts were issued.

In November, Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposed cutting K-12 support by 4.56 percent, or $260 million, from the dollar amount of school aid in the current 2009-10 budget. The Department of Education calculated that cut actually would amount to $374.1 million, or 6.12 percent, when calculated against the full amount school districts would otherwise expect to receive in 2010-11 under full application of the Amendment 23 funding formula.

Herreid’s figure of $431 million represents an increase in CDE’s original $374.1 million estimate.

The Ritter administration has taken the position that Amendment 23 applies only to “base” state funding of schools, about 75 percent of total support. The other 25 percent, nearly $1 billion, is distributed to districts through what are called the “factors,” pots of money designed to compensate districts for cost of living, at-risk students and small size. So, K-12 cuts would be taken in some form from the factors.

Most legislators have at least grudgingly agreed with Ritter’s interpretation of A23. Some interest groups, especially the Colorado Education Association, believe that interpretation is unconstitutional.

Some district administrators fear the effective cut in school instructional budgets could be 10 to 12 percent in 2010-11, given that districts will face increased costs for things like pensions and health insurance at the same time state aid is cut.

So something will have to give, most likely class sizes, teacher jobs and teacher salaries.

The legislature recently passed, and Ritter signed a law, cutting $110 million of state school aid in the current budget year, about 2 percent. The state also isn’t compensating districts for higher-than-projected enrollment and numbers of at-risk students.

Background and EdNews stories

Education in cross fire of tax debate

Program cuts are one side of budget balancing; raising revenue is the other.

For the past two days, the Senate Finance Committee has been working its way through a package of eight bills that propose to eliminate various tax exemptions and use the revenue for both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 budgets.

The debate has been partisan, with Republicans opposing and majority Democrats supporting – and passing – the bills.

Supporters argue that failure to pass the tax bills will force even deeper education cuts, a contention that was challenged by Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, during a Wednesday evening hearing.

According to a GOP news release, King “blasted the lobbyists for two liberal education groups that were falsely claiming the revenue generated from the Democrats tax increase plan would go towards K-12 education.” The release identified the groups as the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Association of School Executives, groups that teachers’ unions – or education reformers for that matter – might not think of as “liberal.”

GOP staffers also cranked out a news release promoting a Republican proposal to cut state payroll rather than eliminate the tax exemptions.

By early Thursday evening, Senate Finance has passed all but two of the tax bills. The package will go to the Senate floor Friday afternoon.

Ed bills continue to stack up

A large number of new bills were introduced in the Senate Thursday, including three related to education:

• Senate Bill 10-150 – This measure would allow additional revenues from state lands to flow to the Public School Fund rather than the permanent fund for 2010-11 only. This is a way to raise a little more cash for K-12 schools. Most school aid comes from the tax-supported general fund, which lawmakers frantically are trying to balance, with a lesser amount coming from the State Education Fund and the smallest amount from the Public School Fund. Sponsored by Joint Budget Committee members.

• Senate Bill 10-154 – The bill would expand the definition of “at-risk student” as it applies to alternative schools, which have separate accreditation standards because of their high percentages of at-risk students. At-risk usually is defined as eligibility for free or reduced-price lunches. The bill would expand that to “include children with disabilities, migrant children, homeless children, children with a documented history of serious psychiatric or behavioral disorders, and children who are 2 or more years behind grade level as determined by statewide assessments or by other assessments,” in the words of the summary. Sole sponsor for now is Sen. Paula Sandoval, D-Denver.

• Senate Bill 10-161 – The proposal would allow charter schools to contract with boards of cooperative education services and other charters for buildings and services. Sponsors are Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs.

For the record

The House Thursday gave preliminary voice approval to House Bill 10-1064, which would require high school athletes to use the standard Colorado High School Acivities Association appeals process for eligibility disputes before taking a case to outside arbitration or to court.

The House Education Committee approved House Bill 10-1044, which would require state licensing of neighborhood youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, and House Bill 10-1013, a technical cleanup of school finance laws.

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

power players

Who’s who in Indiana education: House Speaker Brian Bosma

PHOTO: Sarah Glen

Find more entries on education power players as they publish here.

Vitals: Republican representing District 88, covering parts of Marion, Hancock and Hamilton counties. So far, has served 31 years in the legislature, 9 of those as Speaker of the House. Bosma is a lawyer at the firm Kroger, Gardis & Regas.

Why he’s a power player: Bosma was House Speaker in 2011, when the state passed its large education reform package, creating the first voucher program for students from low-income families. Along with Rep. Bob Behning, Bosma helped develop the state’s voucher program bill as well as the bill that expanded charter school efforts that year. As a party and chamber leader, he plays a major role in setting House Republicans’ legislative agendas.

On toeing the party line: With the debate over state-funded preschool front and center during this year’s session, Bosma has expressed far more enthusiasm than his fellow Republicans for expanding the state’s program. Indeed, Bosma has long been a supporter of state-sponsored preschool. Currently, low-income families in five counties can apply for vouchers to use at high-quality preschool providers. Bosma has said he’d like to see that number triple, if not more.

Recent action: In 2016, Bosma ushered through one of the few teacher-focused bills that became law in the wake of news that some districts in the state were struggling to hire teachers. The bill created a state scholarship fund for prospective teachers, and began awarding money to students this year.

A perhaps little-known fact: In the late 1980s, Bosma worked at the Indiana Department of Education as the legislative adviser to H. Dean Evans, the state superintendent at that time. Then, as with this year’s House Bill 1005, lawmakers advocated to make the state superintendent an appointed position, a bill Bosma is carrying this year.

Who supports him: In past elections, Bosma has received campaign contributions from Education Networks of America, a private education technology company; Hoosiers for Quality Education, an advocacy group that supports school choice, charter schools and vouchers; Stand for Children, a national organization that supports education reform and helps parents to organize; K12, one of the largest online school providers in the country.

Conversely, given his support for choice-based reform, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education gave Bosma an “F” in its 2016 legislative report card highlighting who it thinks has been supportive of public schools.

Legislative highlights via Chalkbeat:

Bills in past years: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Also check out our list of bills to watch this year.

getting to know you

Colorado Sen. Nancy Todd is making up for all the times she was quiet in school

PHOTO: Sarah Glen

Throughout the legislative session, Chalkbeat is asking members of the House and Senate education committees to share a little bit about themselves — and their legislative priorities. In this installment, meet Sen. Nancy Todd.

Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat, is a former social studies teacher who has spent her retirement — if you want to call it that — at the Capitol helping shape education policy.

Since 2005, Todd has played a role supporting — and opposing — some of the state’s most ambitious education policies as a member of both the state House and Senate.

One of her earlier bills created a stipend for teachers who earned National Board certification, a rigorous and widely respected training program for educators. More recently, Todd has been focused on reducing standardized testing and curbing the state’s teacher shortage.

Todd was a vocal opponent of Senate Bill 191, the state’s controversial 2010 teacher evaluation law. She has regularly supported reversing provisions of the law, including a failed attempt this year to create more flexibility in how student data is used to evaluate teachers.

Get to know a little more about Todd here:

What is your favorite memory from school?

PHOTO: Nancy Todd
State Sen. Todd in the first grade.

I think one of my favorite memories was my fifth grade teacher. He was my first male teacher, and he inspired me to be creative and think outside the box. Being the daughter of a superintendent, I always appreciated those teachers who treated me as an individual, not their “boss’s daughter.”

Were you the teacher’s pet or class clown?
Neither. I was actually pretty quiet and followed the rules. Guess I’m making up for it now.

What was your favorite subject and why?
I loved American Government because I had a great teacher who was unconventional and allowed different views and lively discussions. He taught me a lot about respecting others’ opinions and how different leaders of our country were all instrumental in doing good for our citizens, using different approaches.

If you could give yourself one high school superlative it would be:
I was considered “Miss Priss” because I didn’t wear jeans like some of my friends did. I was kidded for being “prim and proper.”

What clubs or sports did you participate in high school?
Pep club, journalism, Quill & Scroll, girls sports

What would your perfect school look like?
An ideal school is where there is a high level of innovation, creativity, opportunity for teachers and students to interact with authentic and respectful relationships. Where learning is based on relevant learning environment and a balance of technology, live role models teachers who are highly qualified and LOVE working with students.

What are you legislative priorities?
Resolve ninth-grade testing question; expand counseling; reasonable school finance proposal.