State Board & CDE

State Board of Education

Colorado’s Constitution provides that the general supervision of the public schools shall be vested in the State Board of Education, whose powers and duties are prescribed by law.

The State Board currently consists of nine elected members who serve without pay. The constitution provides that there shall be one State Board member elected from each of the congressional districts. When the number of congressional districts in the state is an even number, an additional State Board member is elected at large. This ensures that there will always be an odd number of persons serving on the State Board.

The State Board is the governing board of the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Within the limits of its jurisdiction, the State Board appoints the commissioner of education, makes rules and regulations that apply to school districts, accredits public school districts and regulates educator licensing, among other things. The State Board exercises judicial authority with regard to appeals by charter schools. The State Board appoints and receives recommendations from a variety of advisory commissions and committees in the process of carrying
out its responsibilities.

The State Board has authority to release school districts from some state statutes and regulations. Districts can pursue this flexibility under the waiver statute or Innovation for Schools Act [C.R.S. § 22-32.5-108.] The process for seeking a waiver has been expedited for those school districts with fewer than 3,000 students. Most recent waiver requests to the State Board involve conditions of teacher employment.

Commissioner of Education

The Office of Commissioner of Education was made an appointive office by a 1948 amendment to the constitution. The commissioner serves as the executive officer of the State Board and is the chief administrator of CDE.

The commissioner advises the State Board concerning educational matters, submits reports as required by law to the governor and the General Assembly and is responsible for personnel administration in the Department of Education. It is the commissioner’s duty to execute the policies and regulations adopted by the State Board. The commissioner must maintain adequate statistical and financial records of the school districts and maintain a continuous research program to stimulate improvements in education. In addition, the commissioner has the
authority to issue instructions to school officials concerning the governance of the public schools, to prescribe forms and items to be included in reports submitted to the department, to construe provisions of school law and to cause the preparation and distribution of printed materials that may be beneficial to school personnel and students.

Colorado Department of Education

The Colorado Department of Education provides leadership, resources, support and accountability to the state’s 178 school districts to help them build capacity to meet the needs of the state’s nearly 900,000 public school students. CDE also provides services and support to boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES), early learning centers, state correctional schools, facility schools, the state’s libraries, adult/family literacy centers and state high school equivalency testing centers, reaching learners of all ages.

As the administrative arm of the State Board of Education, CDE is responsible for implementing state and federal education laws, disbursing state and federal funds, holding schools and districts accountable for performance, licensing all educators, and providing public transparency of performance and financial data. CDE serves students, parents and the general public by protecting the public trust through ensuring adherence to laws, strong stewardship of public funds and accountability for student performance.