Bill Ritter today signed the "Innovation Schools Act of 2008," which strengthens school-based decision-making by letting schools break free of certain district and state education rules.
Gov. Ritter also signed legislation that allows a merger between the state and Denver Public Schools retirement systems to move forward.
"Thanks to a lot of great work by many, many people, we made the 2008 legislative session the 'Education Session,'" Gov. Ritter. "We are improving how students are taught and we're making smarter investments in our children's education. And with the Innovation Schools Act, we are now empowering local schools to give students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in an ever-competitive 21st century economy."
The Innovation Schools Act (Senate Bill 130) was sponsored by Senate President Peter Groff and Rep. Rob Witwer. It encourages schools to improve student learning by creating Zones of Innovative Performance that will be free of certain district and state regulations. It will allow schools to make their own decisions on spending, the length of the school day and year, course content, hiring and teacher compensation.
"A status quo approach is no longer working and in fact is hindering our ability to graduate our students with the skills they need to succeed in a global economy," said Senate President Peter Groff (D-Denver). "These schools and districts of innovation will have the potential to instruct students in exciting new ways. We have the potential to improve student achievement by offering flexibility in the way education is administered."
Gov. Ritter also signed House Bill 1403 (Romanoff/Sandoval & Groff), which provides a framework for the DPS Retirement System to merge with the Public Employee Retirement System.
By merging the two systems, DPS and PERA could cut administrative expenses, decrease risk, and improve efficiency. Combining and streamlining the two retirement plans will making DPS more attractive to prospective teachers from other parts of the state because now their pensions will be portable.
"Teachers shouldn't have to lose their benefits when they switch school districts," House Speaker Andrew Romanoff said. "They should be able to go where they're most needed."
"This could potentially be the largest public pension merger in the country – ever," said State Treasurer Cary Kennedy. "It's a win-win-win: A win for Denver Public Schools, a win for PERA, and a win for the people of the State of