Superintendent Jim Rex told senators Wednesday that districts need temporary relief from state mandates to keep classrooms running.
He noted K-12 public education has been cut by nearly $350 million since July.
He urged legislators to quickly pass a measure introduced Tuesday that would suspend some mandates for the current and next school year. Those include required teacher-to-student ratios and some testing in grades one, two and nine.
The measure would specify districts can require teachers take up to five days of unpaid leave and negotiate lower salaries for retired teachers who have returned to the classroom.