List of Issues of Concern to Montessori Schools in Colorado
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1) Group size, both in the classroom and on the playground (CDHS rules and regs)
2) CPP funding and class size (CPP)
3) Waivers for chokables and glass - seems like there are new confusions about whether waivers allow schools to include children under 3 in EC classrooms. There are also questions about now long waivers are good for. Sounds like all waivers written before the news rules package much be renewed. (CDHS - rules and regs) It sounds like all waivers moving forward will have an expiration date on them, meaning that programs will have to write for waivers over and over again, a costly and time consuming process which will certainly deter some schools from even bothering with it.
4) Shaken Baby Training - schools feel the training is for the wrong teachers, and some don't like that it is only available online through Colorado Shines It seems like there may be an issue some schools have with the PDIS system but that didn't come up directly.
5) There are definitely issues with the PDIS system: concerns about privacy (have to enter a lot of personal data online), difficulty getting all staff to participate This adds a huge administrative headache both getting staff set up initially and also keeping up with the school information on the flip side. This is just another layer of administrative tasks that directors (especially of small schools) don't have time to add to their plates.
6) Starting a child in an EC classroom the day he/she turns three is developmentally unsound - we know how to do it better but can't currently use developmental guidelines without breaking law) This really affects schools that don't have a waiver for 2 1/2 - 3 year olds using breakables and choke-ables. But, here again, even if you do have a waiver you have to re-apply for the waiver each time it expires.
7) The “Sponge Thing”, which is seen as an example of over-regulation.
8) Many directors believe the subjectivity of various licensing specialists is a big issue, as well as an over-dependence on rules and regs instead of common sense judgments.
9) Directors who are in the classroom must hire office help to cover them during that time. It's very difficult for a small school to manage that financially.
10) Staff vaccinations required (no personal exemptions allowed). There seems to be some confusion about this.
11) New nutritional guidelines that are not based on current scientific research (particularly whole-milk vs non-fat milk regulations are out of date).
12) There is a lot of sadness about the chicken in schools issue.
13) We were surprised that the Colorado Shines tiered system didn't come up. That seems like a core issue.
14) DOL issues - use of volunteers in schools and how early childhood and toddler teachers are categorized by the DOL. (Some employment attorney have advised that this just applies to infant-toddler teachers.)
The common theme seems to be extreme and over-reaching regulation from multiple agencies that has become an impossible burden on the schools. In many cases he oversight is really extreme and somewhat random (like the sponges and the non-fat milk). Small schools can't succeed at it, and even schools like ours struggle to keep up.