Rural Agility Project

Waivers anyone? Help rural districts obtain relief from state mandates

CASB, with support from the Colorado BOCES Association, launched a collaborative effort to achieve more flexibility for small and rural districts by supporting them through the waiver process.

After decades of mounting legislation designed to solve big problems in big school districts, small and rural school districts are struggling to operate under a legislative scheme that simply doesn’t fit. School boards are looking for ways to recover the flexibility to exert meaningful local control.

Three statutes – the Waiver Statute, the Innovation Schools Act and the Charter Schools Act – might provide the best way to hoist bulky mandates off of small and rural districts and free up resources to provide innovative educational programs.

While all of the waiver laws are designed for single-district applications to the State Board of Education, nothing prevents small districts from sharing significant portions of the work at the front end or back end of the innovation process.

Through its Rural Agility Project, CASB has developed tools and resources and can support member boards interested in applying for a waiver.

To assess your board’s interest in the Rural Agility Project, consider these questions:

  • Is our local board work tied up with state mandates?
  • Would our district budget benefit from waivers of state law or regulation?
  • Do we have ideas in our district for educational programming we can’t implement (or our staff can’t manage) because of state-level constraints?
  • Is the possibility of gaining more flexibility through the Rural Agility Project worth exploring for our district?
  • How much time and energy could we devote to help such an effort succeed locally or statewide?

Additional resources

CASB handout: Seeking a Waiver from the School Readiness Assessment Law

Fact sheets from the Colorado Department of Education

Innovation Act Waiver Requests
The Innovation Schools Act allows schools to obtain waivers from requirements stemming from three sources: state statutes and regulations, district policies and negotiated collective bargaining agreement provisions. This fact sheet provides guidance on restrictions in these categories that may be waived, application process and deadlines.

Charter Waiver Requests
Charter schools may receive waivers from specified areas of statute once a charter contract has been established. This fact sheet provides guidance on charter school waiver requests and the requirements set in the Charter School Act that must be met.

Waiver Requests
Colorado law allows districts to request waivers from certain areas of state statute and rule. These waivers can apply to the full district or individual schools within the district. This fact sheet provides waiver application content requirements and process.