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Bill changing Colorado charter school regulations defeated in House committee

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(The Center Square) – A bill to change financial and administrative guidelines for Colorado’s charter schools failed to advance from the House Education Committee.

In an 8-3 vote, legislators postponed House Bill 24-1363 after an eight-hour hearing on Thursday. Three Democrats – Reps. Lorena Garcia and Tammy Story and Sen. Lisa Cutter – sponsored the bill. It would have repealed a 5% cap and allowed school districts to retain the cost of any services for charter school students, including reimbursement for special education services. The bill also would have changed regulations affecting procedural matters involving charter schools, school districts and the state board of education.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to continuously defend charter schools, which are a bright spot in our education system, and we are grateful for the bipartisan group of legislators that voted to defeat HB24-1363,” said Brenda Dickhoner, president and chief executive officer of Ready Colorado, a school choice group.

Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, and one of three voting in the minority, said the bill should generate additional conversations about charter schools, including parent representation on school boards.

“All of us need to have an opportunity to talk about where we are presently at,” Bacon, the assistant majority leader, said during the hearing. “We have been in the throes of this because charters have been on the books in Colorado since the early 90s, 1992. But we are in a different place and I would like to see us come together to roll up our sleeves. I’m concerned that we have pushed ourselves so much to the boxes that we won’t do it.”

Ready Colorado joined the Colorado League of Charter Schools and several other organizations in issuing a joint statement against the bill. More than 56,000 emails were sent to legislators by individuals from throughout the state who opposed the legislation, according to the joint release from the organizations.

“We’re glad that a bipartisan group of legislators recognized this bill for the extreme proposal it was and stopped it from moving forward,” Dan Schaller, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools, said in a statement. “What we really need right now is a focus on putting students first. We can do a better job for students, for quality, and for families if we are focused on outcomes and not agendas.”

House Republicans stated the bill would have significantly hampered charter schools.

“This bill would have threatened charter schools with closures and funding cuts, furthering the Dem’s agenda to limit school choice,” Colorado House Republicans posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

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