The legislature continues to take (small) steps forward for public education
As you know, we here at Great Ed are laser-focused on making sure the legislature uses every tool available to support sustainable and equitable increases to school funding. That’s more than a full-time job (which is why we need you to help!). Here are some of the bills we are monitoring which take steps to increase school funding. Keep in mind, Colorado is over $2 billion behind the national average in per pupil funding.
Joint Budget Committee Supplemental Bill
Last week, an amendment was proposed by Representative Kipp to bring back $12.1 million to school funding after the JBC introduced their mid-year adjustments taking $77 million out of school funding for the 2018-19 fiscal year. This was done because of a lower pupil count and at-risk count than initially anticipated when the budget was set, as well as higher property tax revenue than projected coming in on the local level.
The JBC issued a revised version of their initial statement of the supplement bill regarding school finance based on Representative Kipp’s amendment that was pushed through the House last week. The Senate held over the Kipp amendment and it will head back to the Senate for them to determine whether or not they will concur to restore $12.1 million for per pupil funding in the JBC’s supplemental bill. Representative Kipp’s bill would continue previous practice that the supplemental bill does not result in a decrease in per pupil funding. Our hope is that the Senate will concur with the House position to not cut average per pupil funding.
SB19-094 Extend School Finance Interim Committee passed through Senate Education with a vote of 5-0 and Senate Appropriations this week. This bill would extend the work of the legislative interim committee on school finance for one additional year and is written to ensure that there will be an even split of Republicans and Democrats on the committee, as there has been for the past two years. This bill would also allow this committee to hire an outside consulting firm to work on issues of school finance.
SB19-039 Interdistrict Transportation of Students passed through House Education with a vote of 10-3. This bill would delete a section of a bill passed last year, because the provision was deemed to be outside of the bill’s single subject. That bill was intended to mandate that school districts provide transportation for any student that is highly mobile or in a foster care situation to their home district. The part of the law that would be removed is the section that requires a school district to also transport ANY student in the district that wants to attend a different district, at the cost of the district in which they live.
What’s Coming Up?
HB19-1190 Repeal of Mill Levy Equalization Fund will be heard in House Education on Tuesday, March 5 at 1:30pm. This bill would remove a provision in a bill passed in 2017 that required state tax dollars to be used to fund CSI schools at local MLO rates. This bill would not change funding mechanisms for district charter schools, as district charter schools would still receive funding at local MLO rates.
Legislator Highlight of the Week: Senator Nancy Todd
This week, we’d like to highlight the work of Senator Nancy Todd representing Senate district 28. Sen. Todd, a long-time public education advocate and a retired teacher, has served on the House and Senate Education Committees for most of the 14 years she has been in office, and now serves as chair of the Senate Committee. We highlight Sen. Todd this week as Great Education Colorado’s longest-serving ally, and because of her unrelenting work to engage with us on issues of school funding and finding both short- and long-term solutions.
“The greatest investment we can make is in public education for every child, it will make us a stronger nation…The more educated a population is, the better decisions are made for all. High quality funding of education gives all students the great learning opportunities they need to succeed.” — Senator Nancy Todd
School Funding Issues: Explained
Reporter Jenny Brundin with Colorado Public Radio did a twitter series this week explaining issues of public education funding at the state level. Click the image below to see the full chain!