urrently, Colorado has 350,000adults over 21 who don’t have a high school diploma, which will continue to increase since only 82.3% of students in Colorado graduated in 2023 according to the Colorado Department of Education.
“Many Coloradans are forced to leave high school early due to various life circumstances, and face barriers that make it difficult to return and earn their degree,” Senator Janet Buckner said to the Colorado Democratic Party.
However, a bill introduced at the start of the year could change this and help those adults earn their high school degrees.
On January 9th, the bill SB23-003 was introduced in the department section on the senate under education. This bill passed on June 6th, 2023 with a majority vote by representatives of 55-10 and the senate voting majority 32-3.
Bill SB23-003 aimed to create and fund an in-person high school for adults to earn high school diplomas for free. Before, Coloradans would have to attend an online school to earn a high school degree over the age of 21, but now, a new in-person high school is set to open with 400 students at one time.
The bill would provide 5 million dollars to a non-profit organization to operate a program that includes operating the high school, hiring teachers, paying for childcare services, and operating a free transportation system.
This bill could also help introduce more adults into the workforce because adults could earn certificates that are recognized by multiple industries, career and education certificates, or college credits without any cost.
Bill SB23-003 has a majority support, but some oppose it.
“It’s not okay for state funds to just target two areas. They need to be distributed throughout the state so the benefit to Colorado is the entire state,” Representative Richard Holtorf of Akron said to a reporter at Colorado Politics.
The prime sponsors, Representative Don Wilson and Senator Bob Gardner both represent El Paso County while Representative Mike Weissman and Senator Janet Buckner both represent Arapahoe County. This means that this bill will mostly support the cities included in these counties.
Although this bill could focus more on Arapahoe and El Paso County, it would overall benefit all Coloradans, notably parents who have kids attending high school but don’t have degrees of their own.
The location and date of when the school is opening has yet to be determined..
-By Hayne Kang