Legislation would distribute more than $50 million in federal pandemic relief funds to save teachers money
DENVER, CO – The House passed a bill today on a preliminary vote to save teachers money and prepare our students for success. This bill will invest more than $50 million of federal pandemic relief funds to build stronger schools and boost Colorado’s teacher workforce.
“Colorado is facing a critical teacher shortage and pandemic pressures have heightened the situation,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “Our bill saves teachers money through loan forgiveness and student educator stipends so more talented educators can enter the profession without the financial burden. To prepare students for success, we need more teachers in the classroom and this bill will boost their workforce.”
“We are taking a multi-pronged approach to address Colorado’s teacher shortage and that includes breaking down financial barriers to entering the profession,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “Our bill saves our educators money by providing loan forgiveness to new teachers and creating stipends for student educators. Investing in our teachers builds stronger schools, improves educational outcomes and better prepares students for the road ahead. I am proud to sponsor this legislation that invests more than $50 million to boost Colorado’s teacher workforce.”
HB22-1220, sponsored by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Barbara McLachlan includes multiple strategies to address the teacher shortage.
As amended, the bill now includes $10 million for student loan forgiveness to teachers who recently entered the profession. Modeled after an existing student loan forgiveness program, this program will provide up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness to educators who entered the profession during the pandemic, reducing the financial burden for up to 2,000 educators.
The legislation creates and fully funds two stipend programs for two years that will save student educators over $20 million a year as they pursue educator preparation programs. It also creates new options to assess prospective educators and allows more prospective educators to obtain temporary educator licenses, breaking down unnecessary barriers to enter the educator workforce. The program anticipates supporting over 1,300 student educators.
The bill expands opportunities for all teacher candidates and reduces red tape. It would make student teaching a paid position for income-eligible students. These educators would no longer need to work second or third jobs while finishing their teaching programs. The bill also creates a stipend program to pay for teacher competency exams, which can cost educators hundreds of dollars while they complete their licensure program. The bill expands the measures used to examine competency, creating a new pathway to initial licensure for prospective educators that expands how prospective educators can prove their competency.
The legislation builds on laws passed in recent sessions to address the educator workforce challenges, such as SB21-185, which invested $15 million into two new programs to recruit and retain educators. It also follows on bills passed earlier this session to encourage retired educators to return to school districts.