January 30, 2019

Denver, CO – Yesterday, the Senate passed SB19-009, Financial Incentives for Rural Educators, a bill that would help address the teacher shortage plaguing rural districts. The bill passed the chamber unanimously, with four Senators excused, and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration, where it is sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango) and James Wilson (R-Salida).

This bill would remove the limit on stipends available and increase the total amount of the stipend available to students in teacher preparation programs who agree to teach in rural schools from $2,800 to $4,000.

“I am thrilled that the Senate has made a commitment to investing in the future of our children and our state,” said Senator Nancy Todd, Senate Education Committee Chair, Senate sponsor of SB19-009, and retired teacher. “This legislation will attract talented educators to our rural districts and ensure that every child, no matter what part of the state they live in, will have access to a quality education.”

There are an estimated 3,000 unfilled teacher jobs in Colorado, with rural school districts feeling the brunt of the shortfall. The problem is compounded by the fact that many Colorado teachers are preparing for retirement and the number of teacher-preparation program graduates in the state has declined by 24.4 percent over the past five years.

Of the 178 school districts in Colorado, 148 are classified as “rural.” There are 109 districts that have fewer than 1000 students, meeting the criteria for “small rural,” with 88 districts made up of fewer than 500 students, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

For more information about SB19-009, please visit: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-009.