Rep. Shannon Bird’s bill to incentivizes local education providers to provide innovative learning opportunities for high school students also signed into law

(May 10) – Gov. Polis signed a pair of bills at Overland High School today that will increase educational opportunities for students across the state. House Democrats were committed to investing in education this legislative session.

“It was always a priority of my late husband John to help students grow and succeed in their academia. This new law continues his legacy and will help kids realize their full potential.” said Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora.

Rep. Buckner’s children and grandchildren joined the signing ceremony. The bill signing took place at Overland High School where the late John Buckner served as a dedicated  school principal for 17 years. The school gymnasium is also named after him.

Rep. Janet Buckner’s bill, SB19-059, creates a pilot program to increase the number of students taking advanced, honor, or accelerated courses. A grant program would be created under the Colorado Department of Education that will provide support for districts who want to automatically enroll students in advanced courses for subjects in which they have demonstrated proficiency or above on state assessments.

During the third reading of the bill, Republican Reps. Colin Larson and Jim Wilson offered an amendment to rename the bill after former Rep. John Buckner. Rep. John Buckner passed away in 2015 after a battle with sarcoidosis, a chronic respiratory illness. Rep. Janet Buckner succeeded him and now holds the seat.  

SB19-059 passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Governor Polis also signed Rep. Shannon Bird’s bill, SB19-216, which incentivizes local education providers to provide innovative learning opportunities for high school students.

“We live in a dynamic and evolving economy. Making sure our students are well prepared for college or entering the workforce requires every student we educate to have a rich educational experience,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “We need strong teachers teaching a strong curriculum in the classroom. We also need innovative learning opportunities like apprenticeships outside of the classroom. We can now incentivize our school districts to expand opportunities for students so that every child receives a quality education.”

The bill creates the high school innovative learning pilot program to support school districts, boards of cooperative services, and charter schools in providing innovative learning opportunities to students enrolled in grades 9 through 12. Each local education provider that is selected to participate in the pilot program can count high school students who participate in innovative learning opportunities as full-time pupils, for purposes of school finance.

SB19-216, also sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bridges, passed by a vote of 51-16 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

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