The bill directs the department of education to identify geographic areas within the state and specific subjects for which there is a teacher shortage. Under the bill, a rural school district (district) and a public or private institution of higher education (institution) may enter into an agreement to provide a teaching fellowship program for students enrolled in the fourth year of the approved educator preparation program. The district must be located within an identified area or need a teacher for one of the identified subjects and demonstrate chronic hiring difficulty and financial need; the institution must offer an approved educator preparation program. The agreement must include the commitments of both the district and the institution, including the commitments of both the district and the institution to jointly design an individualized fellowship plan for each teaching fellow that addresses necessary competencies, the district's commitment to extend an offer of employment to the teaching fellow when he or she successfully completes the fellowship year, and the institution's commitment to pay a percentage of a stipend to the teaching fellow during the fellowship year.
Each teaching fellow receives a stipend of $10,000 to use for costs of attendance during the fellowship year. The department of higher education, based on the districts' demonstrated chronic hiring difficulties and financial need, will annually select 100 teaching fellows for which the state will provide 50% of the stipend through the state financial assistance program. For these teaching fellows, the institution must provide the remaining 50% from institutional financial assistance. If a teaching fellow is not selected to receive state money, the district and the institution must pay the stipend in agreed-upon percentages. If the teaching fellow receives an offer of employment from the district and does not accept it, the teaching fellow must repay the amount of the stipend.
The district and institution must prepare an annual report concerning implementation of the teaching fellowship program and submit it to the department of higher education. The department must prepare a summary report concerning the implementation and effect of the teaching fellowship programs throughout the state and submit the report to the state board of education, the Colorado commission on higher education, and the joint budget committee and education committees of the general assembly.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)