At the 79th annual fall Delegate Assembly in Breckenridge in October, I represented the Primero Re-2 School District as a Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) voting delegate. This assembly gives direction to CASB’s legislative leaders for the passing of resolutions presented by the 178 Colorado school districts.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, as of May, 2019, there are a total of 146 rural Colorado school districts. There are 107 small rural districts with less than 1,000 students, and 39 districts with at least 1,000 but less than 6,500 students. All the small rural districts combined are comprised of 32,255 students, and the other rural districts total 92,110 students, for a total of 127,365. Overall in the state of Colorado, there are almost a million students (911,536).
A resolution proposed by Lewis Palmer District 38 near Colorado Springs opposed legislation that usurps local control by individual school boards of instruction at schools.
This particular resolution passed 44-31, with only 75 of 178 delegates voting.
Many small rural districts cannot afford to send their delegates to vote.
The majority of resolutions come from Front Range schools and does not necessarily reflect the needs of rural and small rural districts. In conversations with other delegates from the rural and small rural districts, I would say that the majority of them are not in favor of mandates from the Capitol that take away local control of school boards.
The following is Resolution No. 13:
“Opposing legislation that usurps local control of instruction vested by the Colorado Constitution in elected school… the Colorado State Constitution in Article IX, section 15, which was established in 1876, states that local school boards elected by their electors, ‘shall have control of instruction in the public schools of their respective districts;’ a constitutional principle known as ‘local control;’ and whereas, the membership of the Colorado Association of School Boards has adopted Standing Resolution No. 1 recognizing that control of instruction is vested by the Colorado Constitution in locally elected school boards; and whereas, legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor that mandates specific instruction or that directs local school districts to follow specific instructional text or content violates the fundamental principle of local control contained in Article IX, section 15 the Colorado Constitution.
“Be it resolved that the Colorado Association of School Boards oppose any current or proposed legislation that requires locally-elected school boards or their districts to follow or adopt specific instructional text or content in violation of the fundamental principle of local control embodied in the Colorado Constitution.”
CASB represents school boards who believe:
— Control of public school systems is best directed by locally elected school boards and not legislated at the state or federal levels.
— Local boards are better positioned to make effective decisions for children as they are directly accountable to their communities for oversight and use of financial resources and student outcomes.
The role of the state government is to support research, promote best practices, and help ensure adequate per pupil funding.
The narrative of advocacy is controlled by the Front Range area and elected officials at the Capitol. It is very disappointing to me that only 65-75 of the 175 delegates are present to vote at these assemblies. Each district has one delegate vote, and one must be present to vote.
There were over 1,000 attendees at the 79th annual Convention at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in December, and only 64 voting delegates were present.
The cost to attend these assemblies is extremely expensive. I have addressed my concern with Cheri Wrench, executive director at CASB and Matt Cook, director of public policy and advocacy at CASB. They both agree that we must figure a way for more school districts to be represented.
Small rural and rural districts represent the majority of the 178 total Colorado school districts. Without a delegate present at these assemblies, they have no voice.