STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
|Time:||10:28 AM to 12:08 PM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|Referred to the Committee of the Whole|
Referred to the Committee of the Whole
10:28 AM -- House Bill 09-1250
Senator Penry, sponsor of House Bill 09-1250, presented the bill to the committee. The bill requires counties to distribute to school districts at least 50 percent of federal payments received as a result of having national forest lands in the county through the Secure Rural Schools Act. The requirements are phased in over three federal fiscal years for counties receiving payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) money. Senator Penry provided a packet of handouts related to the bill (Attachment A).
Senator Penry explained how the federal money is distributed, discussing how money is distributed to "A" and "B" counties, and explaining PILT.
Senator Penry responded to committee questions, including a question from President Groff about the possibility of combining small school districts. Committee discussion around school district consolidation ensued.
Senator Heath asked Senator Penry to comment on the amount of money that goes to the Road and Bridge Fund. Senator Penry provided clarification around this question, saying the bill implements a 50/50 split between schools and roads and bridges.
Senator Spence asked Senator Penry whether the money under the bill would be used to supplement or supplant School Finance Act moneys. Senator Penry explained that the moneys in the bill do not have bearing on the School Finance Act.
Senator King asked about distribution to "B" counties under the bill. Senator Penry responded, providing information about "A" and "B" counties. He noted that there are negotiations continuing and that there would need to be modifications to the bill. He explained that counties could change county type designation from year to year, which makes the phase-in provisions of the bill problematic.
The following persons testified:
10:43 AM -- Jane Urschel, representing the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), testified in support of the bill. She said the bill attempts a fair division of funds. Dr. Urschel spoke to President Groff's earlier questions around school district consolidation.
10:45 AM -- Jarrod Biggs, representing the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), testified on the bill. Mr. Biggs walked the committee through the handout (see Attachment A), explaining the information contained in it.
Mr. Biggs responded to committee questions, including a question from Senator King about whether the calculations in the handout assume that counties distribute only the minimum required amount. Senator Penry responded to this question as well, noting that counties are allowed to distribute more than the required five percent required under current law, but most do not. Conversation on this issue ensued.
Committee discussion with Mr. Biggs continued, with a question from Senator Spence about the sustainability of this funding stream for school districts. Senator Penry responded, saying the money is ultimately dependent on Congressional appropriations and it is likely that the moneys will decline over time.
10:54 AM -- Chris Mendez, representing Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI), testified in opposition to the bill. He said the bill removes a degree of local control and explained that each county makes spending decisions differently. Mr. Mendez suggested a sunset date be set because the source of the moneys is not a stable one. He provided information about how counties are currently distributing these moneys.
Mr. Mendez responded to committee questions, including a question from Senator Bacon, who asked whether CCI could support the bill if it is amended. Mr. Mendez provided information around "A" and "B" counties in response to a question from Senator King about which counties will be impacted by the bill. Committee discussion of how counties are designated "A" or "B" by the federal government ensued.
Committee discussion with Mr. Mendez continued, with a question from Senator Heath about CCI's specific concerns with the bill.
Mr. Mendez responded to a question from Senator King about the current financial condition of counties. Mr. Mendez said counties are having budget struggles and some of the counties that receive the funds at issue in the bill are some of the most rural and poor counties. He also responded to a question from Senator Hudak about what percentage of counties' budgets are made up of these funds. Discussion ensued between Senator Hudak and Mr. Mendez on the impact the identified amounts of moneys would have on counties and school districts. Senator Penry weighed in on this issue, providing examples by way of illustration.
Senator Penry spoke to the earlier conversation around local control.
11:11 AM -- Mike Spearman, representing Saguache County, testified in opposition to the bill. He described the county, saying much of the county consists of federal lands. He talked about challenges the county faces with regard to roads due to past underfunding. Mr. Spearman talked about how his county makes decisions around distribution of PILT money. He spoke to how other counties make distribution decisions as well. He commented that schools have a number of funding options, but counties do not. He said counties are against the bill because it takes away counties' ability to make decisions on spending these moneys.
11:18 AM -- Bruce Caughey, representing the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Jefferson County Administrators Association, testified in support of the bill. He said the bill puts Colorado in line with 18 other states that distribute 50 percent or more of these funds to schools. Mr. Caughey spoke to the DOLA handout (see Attachment A).
Mr. Caughey responded to committee questions, including a question from Senator Hudak about the impact the moneys provided under the bill would have on school districts. Mr. Caughey said the money would make a dramatic difference to school districts. Conversation on this issue ensued, with Mr. Caughey explaining that these moneys can be used to match Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) moneys.
Senator King asked Mr. Caughey whether CASE would support the addition of a sunset and a hold harmless in the bill. Mr. Caughey talked about discussions with CCI and DOLA around the bill.
Senator Penry asked Mr. Caughey to comment on Senator Spence's earlier questions around the stability of this funding stream. Mr. Caughey said the funds may allow districts to delay cuts that would need to be made.
11:29 AM -- Scott Groginsky, representing the Colorado Children's Campaign, testified in support of the bill. He said the bill provides important opportunities for rural school districts. Mr. Groginsky spoke to challenges faced by rural districts.
11:31 AM -- Karen Wick, representing the Colorado Education Association, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Wick said the bill provides a fair division of federal funds that are meant to support rural schools.
Ms. Wick responded to committee questions. Senator Hudak asked if the money possible under the bill would have a significant impact on school districts. Conversation on this issue between Ms. Wick and Senator Hudak ensued.
11:34 AM -- Phil Onofrio, representing Eagle County Schools, testified in support of the bill. He described the demographics of his school district, and explained that many school districts did not know they could work with county commissioners to get more than the current minimum five percent of the moneys at issue. Mr. Onofrio described discussions with his county. He discussed the needs in his school district.
11:37 AM -- Charlie Warren, representing Moffat School District, testified in support of the bill. He noted that his district is the poorest in the state and is a high performing district. He talked about his district's budget and the capital needs the district faces. Mr. Warren talked about how Secure Rural Schools Act and PILT moneys are distributed to the school districts in the county. He said more than half of his district's capital construction needs could be met under the bill.
Mr. Warren responded to committee questions. Senator King asked what the district expected to get in increased Title I and special education moneys under the federal stimulus package. Mr. Warren described federal funds received by the school district. Senator Penry spoke to the issue as well.
11:47 AM -- George Welsh, representing the Center School District, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Welsh talked about conversations in his county around increasing the school district's share of the moneys at issue. He talked about how his district might use the moneys. He spoke to earlier committee discussion around federal stimulus moneys.
11:52 AM -- Michael Lobato, representing the Center School Board, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Lobato said the bill represents the ability to shore things up. He talked about funding needs in Center and said the bill will provide more equitable funding.
Mr. Lobato responded to committee questions, including a question from Senator Spence about how the community would react to funding going to schools rather than roads. Senator King asked what Center's per pupil revenue is.
Senator Penry made closing comments to the bill and responded to committee questions.
|TIME: || 11:59:10 AM|
|MOTION:||Refer House Bill 09-1250 to the Committee of the Whole. The motion passed on a 7-1 vote.|
Final YES: 7 NO: 1 EXC: 0 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
12:04 PM -- House Bill 09-1296
Senator Hudak, sponsor of House Bill 09-1296, presented the bill. The bill extends the repeal date for the reading assistance grant program by one year.
The following person testified:
12:06 PM -- Brian Burne, representing Assistive Technology Partners, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Burne talked about the importance of the reading assistance grant program, speaking to a study currently underway.
|TIME: || 12:07:55 PM|
|MOTION:||Refer House Bill 09-1296 to the Committee of the Whole with a recommendation that it be placed on the consent calendar. The motion passed on a 6-0-2 vote.|
Final YES: 6 NO: 0 EXC: 2 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS
The committee adjourned.