Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 05-1216, "Concerning the school improvement action cycle for low-performing public schools." I vetoed this bill as of 12:20 p.m. today, and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.
There is a great deal in the bill to like, and much that I support. I extend my thanks to Representative Rosemary Marshall and Senator Peter Groff for the tremendous amount of effort that they both put into working on the bill. It is regrettable that in the waning hours of the session the legislature didn't approve the sponsor supported amendments necessary to earn my signature. It is my hope that Representative Marshall and Senator Groff will return next year to convince the legislature that the changes we worked for in H.B. 1216 are critical and necessary to improve Colorado's failing schools.
H.B. 1216 was conceived as a response to experience gained last year at Cole Middle School, the first school in Colorado to face mandatory conversion into an Independent Charter School after three consecutive years of unsatisfactory ratings on the School Accountability Reports. H.B. 1216 would have provided that schools that score unsatisfactory must achieve ratings of low for at least two consecutive years before they are not subject to mandatory conversion. The bill also would have required schools that score in the bottom third of the low rating to demonstrate improvement over time or also be subject to mandatory conversion. H.B. 1216 would have utilized School Improvement Teams to audit schools receiving a rating of unsatisfactory as a means of assisting districts in identifying areas that need improvement. The bill would also increase the number of options for districts and the State Board of Education to consider should a school be subject to the school improvement cycle.
I am extremely proud of the hard work and progress that has been made in improving schools across Colorado for all children. I remain firmly committed to seeing that schools that aren't succeeding for their children are given every opportunity to do so. However, changes made to schools that aren't succeeding must be substantive and are not merely window-dressing. I believe that, while most districts are committed to improving academic achievement, there must be a statutory mechanism for the State Board of Education to impose necessary reforms in circumstances where local districts are unwilling or unable to act in the best interests of the children and parents at the school. I shared these concerns with the bill sponsors early in the legislative process and unfortunately they weren't addressed before the bill was passed.
Accordingly, I have vetoed this bill.
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