As this year’s legislative session comes to an end, I am relieved that we made it out relatively unscathed (and actually, with some important wins). Here’s a recap of legislation and decisions directly impacting CSI:
- Session kicked off with a bill seeking to strip CSI schools of mill levy equalization funds. With our education reform partners and the strong voices of our CSI families, we successfully defeated HB19-1190.
- Following this, the Joint Budget Committee voted to appropriate $7 million to the CSI Mill Levy Equalization Fund. While this is a $1.5 million increase from last year, it is a reduction from the $10.5 million that was requested by CSI this fall, which had been included in the budgets of both Governors Hickenlooper and Polis.
- We were anticipating an amendment to the Long Bill that would attempt to strip funding completely and another that would attempt to abolish CSI. Neither of these materialized.
Throughout session, we called upon our schools to share their stories with legislators and with CSI. I was impressed by the strong response from our families and schools when called upon to use their voices and share their stories. We also had several schools testify in front of the House Education Committee about the positive impacts they’ve had from attending a CSI school.
I was also truly touched by the authentic stories shared about challenge and hardship before finding hope and success in a CSI charter school. No two stories were the same. But as I read each and every story, I did notice some themes in the experiences of our families:
- A CSI school made my child feel safe/welcomed/comfortable for the first time in a long time/ever
- A child has a newfound love of learning since attending a CSI school because the education model and teaching philosophy was the right fit for them
- A child with special needs received the attention they deserved from committed teachers and are seeing the successes
Without question, it is these real experiences that find a place in the hearts and minds of our legislators, decision makers, and broader communities and can shape the narrative of why charter schools (and specifically CSI schools) are an important part of the education system in Colorado.
This July marks the 15th anniversary of the Charter School Institute. We have been in existence for fifteen years, yet we are still fighting for equal access to public resources. So while session is over, sharing your stories shouldn’t be. Invite your legislators to graduation, moving up ceremonies, and student showcases. Share the stories of how your school is making a positive impact in the community with the local news media. Write a letter to the editor. Invite your legislators to visit your school this fall to learn about your program and hear from your students. Tell your story.