STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
|10:45 AM to 12:33 PM
|This Meeting was called to order by
|This Report was prepared by
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only
10:46 AM -- House Bill 09-1125
Senator Hudak, sponsor of House Bill 09-1125, presented the bill to the committee. The bill prohibits school districts and other local education providers from offering gifts of money or other incentives to encourage enrollment, with some exceptions. She said it is her belief that good schools should not need to offer incentives and there are better uses for taxpayer's moneys.
Senator Romer commented that the New America School did offer incentives, but did not use state moneys for these activities. He asked Senator Hudak if schools could use 501(3)(c) moneys for such incentives. Senator Romer said he wants to be sure that alternative high schools in particular will be able to use all the tools available in attracting students to the school. Senator Hudak responded, saying the bill does not restrict advertising. Senator Bacon asked whether a foundation of a school could offer incentives. Senator Hudak responded that a foundation is not a local education provider. Committee discussion on these issues ensued.
Committee discussion continued, with more committee conversation about what would and would not be allowed under the provisions of the bill.
The committee also discussed the changes made to the bill in the House. Senator Hudak provided additional clarification around the intent of the bill. The committee discussed this further.
Julie Pelegrin, Office of Legislative Legal Services, came to the table to respond to questions raised by the committee. She said the language is very broad, and suggested adding a third exception might address the issues raised. Ms. Pelegrin provided information about the conversation around the bill in the House Education Committee, and responded to committee questions about the scope of the bill.
The committee discussed the bill further with the sponsor and the drafter, with a focus on the specifics of what the bill prohibits.
The committee continued its discussion of the bill, specifically what the bill does and does not allow schools to do, as well as the provisions in the bill as introduced as opposed to the reengrossed bill. Senator Hudak said the witnesses will likely speak to the changes made in the House.
The following persons testified:
11:17 AM -- Karen Wick, representing the Colorado Education Association, testified in support of the bill. She said good schools do not need to offer financial incentives to attract students and parents, but should compete on their merits. Ms. Wick talked about the changes made in the House, saying they were meant as clarifying changes. She said incentives are not the best use of taxpayer moneys, rather those moneys would be better spent in the classroom.
Ms. Wick responded to committee questions.
Senator Hudak responded to a committee request for an example of the kind of situation that prompted the bill. The committee discussed the particular situation and situations other schools might face.
11:23 AM -- Sean Bradley, representing the Colorado League of Charter Schools, testified in support of the bill. He said the league supports the bill in its current form, and noted that the bill as initially written would have prevented some charter schools from offering wrap-around services to students. Mr. Bradley said the league does not support incentives to boost enrollment for the October count, but noted that there are schools that need to offer certain incentives to get students into schools. He provided examples, including child care and transportation. He said the league worked closely with the House sponsor on the bill.
Mr. Bradley responded to committee comments and questions.
11:31 AM -- Bruce Caughey, representing the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), testified in support of the bill. Mr. Caughey said CASE supports the bill in its current form. He explained the intent of the amendments adopted in the House, and said he believes the reengrossed bill does allow for most of the items of concern brought up in committee discussion.
Mr. Caughey responded to committee questions and comments.
11:35 AM -- Jane Urschel, representing the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), testified in support of the bill. She said CASB's support was contingent upon the changes made in the House.
Dr. Urschel responded to committee comments and questions.
Senator Hudak made closing comments to the bill.
Senator Bacon laid the bill over for action to Wednesday, March 11, 2009.
11:41 AM -- Senate Bill 09-236
Senator Lundberg, sponsor of Senate Bill 09-236, presented the bill. The bill requires school districts that are building a new public school to hold at least one public hearing about the planned construction. He said he has two amendments, and described the amendments' effects. He also said he would be willing to add a conceptual amendment to reduce the financial impact on school districts.
Senator Lundberg responded to committee questions. He clarified that one of his amendments is intended to address concerns raised around security.
Committee discussion with Senator Lundberg continued, with conversation around time frames, particularly as they relate to charter schools, specified in the bill. Senator Lundberg responded to a number of committee questions related to the bill's impact on charter schools. He said the intent of the bill is not to slow down the building process, it is to provide transparency.
The following persons testified:
11:55 AM -- Bruce Caughey, representing the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), testified in opposition to the bill. He talked about the requirements that must be met by districts under the procurement code, which include public meetings. Mr. Caughey talked about the possible costs to school districts to meet the requirements of the bill.
11:57 AM -- Jane Urschel, representing the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), testified in opposition to the bill. She described the process under current law and said it is very transparent. She said CASB has not taken a formal position on the bill, enumerated CASB's concerns about the bill, and posed a number of questions about the reach of the bill.
Senator Lundberg responded to committee questions related to the issues raised by Dr. Urschel.
12:05 PM -- Daniel Bennan, representing the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, testified in opposition to the bill. He expressed concerns around public safety related to the bill's requirements on posting information on a website. He said the bill provides information to a much larger audience than just those interested in what the school might look like, and this might pose a danger to students and adults in the school, as well as first responders.
12:08 PM -- Brian Campbell, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. He said that blueprints are available currently, so if there are security issues, they already exist. He said he supports the transparency provided in the bill.
12:10 PM -- Bill Geis, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. He said transparency is the most important aspect of the bill. Mr. Geis related an example that illustrates the issue the bill seeks to address. He said that information is already digitized, so the expense should be minimal.
Mr. Geis responded to committee questions.
12:14 PM -- Linda Sasenick, representing herself, testified in support of the bill. She spoke further to situations in Jefferson County, saying the public was not notified. She said current law does not provide the needed and adequate public notice. In big districts, she said, there is no statutory requirement that the public be notified and heard. Ms. Sasenick said the sense that there is an open process is not correct.
Ms. Sasenick responded to committee questions and comments.
12:19 PM -- Jeff Sacco, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Sacco talked about the situation in Jefferson County, and said the bill represents common sense and allows citizens to work in concert with schools. Mr. Sacco talked about CORA requests, and the difficulty faced by the community in getting information from the Jefferson County School District.
Mr. Sacco responded to committee questions and comments.
12:27 PM -- Russell Haas, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. He spoke to the security issues raised by earlier witnesses.
Mr. Haas responded to committee questions.
12:29 PM -- Jack Ott, representing himself, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Ott said the voter is the customer of the government, and neighborhoods should have input into school construction.
Senator Lundberg provided closing comments to the bill and responded to committee comments.
| 12:32:42 PM
|Refer Senate Bill 09-236 to the Committee of the Whole. The motion failed on a 1-6-1 vote.
Not Final YES: 1 NO: 6 EXC: 1 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: FAIL
| 12:33:08 PM
|Moved that Senate Bill 09-236 be postponed indefinitely. The motion passed on a 6-1-1 reversal of the previous roll call vote.
Final YES: 6 NO: 1 EXC: 1 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee adjourned.