February 23, 2022

RURAL ED BILLS ADVANCE IN HOUSE

DENVER, CO – Two bills that would address the rural educator shortage and improve access to early childhood education in rural areas today advanced on Second Reading in the House.

“We’re serious about addressing the teacher workforce shortage in rural Colorado,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “Our bipartisan legislation will boost the rural education workforce by simplifying the path for teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers and other retired staff to return to rural school districts. This will help prepare students for success by making sure they have enough talented, qualified teachers and educators in their schools.”

HB22-1101, sponsored by Representatives McLachlan and Catlin, would make it easier for rural school districts to address the rural educator shortage. It would make permanent a program that is currently scheduled to expire that allows retired public employees to return to full-time work in a rural school district without an impact on their retirement benefits. It also expands the program to include school nurses and paraprofessionals.

“This session, we’re making every effort to improve access to early childhood education and prepare our students for success,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Between pandemic induced-learning loss and educator workforce shortages, this has been a challenging year for parents and students. This bill would make it easier to access quality, community-driven early learning and care solutions which saves parents money and sets our youngest learners up for success.”

HB22-1070, sponsored by Representative McCluskie, would make it easier to form an early childhood development service district. Under current law, a service district must include all of the territory of a political subdivision. For example, a service district established in a municipality or county, would need to include all of that county or municipality. The bill allows a service district to include only a portion of a special district, municipality, county or other existing taxing entity. This bill would also allow for early childhood districts to receive gifts, grants and donations to provide early learning opportunities to students.