• With the passage of 34 of 38 local school funding measures this November, Coloradans sent a clear message of support for schools, students and the resources necessary to ensure their success. The first rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and Colorado has started to turn a corner for our students. Following the election, several metro area superintendents and legislators weighed in on the significance of these local measures and the still critical need for a longer term, statewide solution to the Denver Post:

    Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools Superintendent
    “We worked very closely together over the last two years,” with Jeffco, Cherry Creek and other districts to convey the need to make up some of what budget cuts had taken, he said. “It’s important to have a clear message, that it’s not about one district or another, not about urban districts or suburban,” Boasberg said. “We’ve got a real crisis in this state, which has one of the lowest funding rates in the country.”

    John Barry, Aurora Public Schools Superintendent
    “Going for mill levy overrides is not a way to run a district,” said Barry, which won a $15 million mill levy override. “You have to have proper funding from the state level to do this in a reasonable, predictable and planned manner.”

    Senator Michael Johnston, Denver Legislator
    “I think it’s more of a recognition of the fact that our current funding system is broken,” said state Sen. Michael Johnston. … “[Mill Levy overrides are] the school districts’ best version of duct tape and bailing wire, just to keep it together.”

  • A recent Denver Post article looked at the change to four-day school weeks in an increasing number of Colorado School Districts with the last several years of state budget cuts: “Since the recession hit in 2007, 18 Colorado districts have switched to four-day school weeks — a nearly 30 percent increase. The state jumped from 62 to 80 districts with schools [with four day weeks]… Most cited financial reasons for the change…Critics of the four-day week, while acknowledging that even minimal savings can mean a lot to a district, see the practice as adding to an already troubling summer learning loss and flying in the face of trending reform efforts aimed at expanding instructional time.” Click here to read the Post article which includes reactions from parents, educators, and national experts about the impacts of a four-day week.
  • Despite so-called “flat-funding,” the 2012 legislative session resulted in a school funding level that is more than $1 billion below what is required by Amendment 23. As a result, school districts around the state are faced with even more cuts this school year. The effects are coming into focus this fall: Two Garfield County school districts changed to a four-day school week this school year as a result of multiple years of state per pupil funding cuts (Glenwood Springs Post Independent); other districts have resorted to fewer teachers and electives and increasing class sizes, among other cuts. (Click here to see a summary of cuts from districts around the state reported by the Colorado School Finance Project). Parents are feeling the strain of increased fees and school supply lists, as detailed in EdNews Colorado Blog by Jeffco parent Michelle Patterson. What have you noticed? Tell us here.
  • Colorado gained over 9,000 students from 2009-10 to 2010-11, and reduced the number of teachers by 500. (Colorado School Finance Project)
  • According to a recent study by the Education Law Center regarding the fairness of school finance systems around the country, Colorado received a D for distribution — whether schools with poor students get the funding they should — and an F for effort, a measure of how school funding relates to the overall wealth of a state. (Children’s Voices)
  • One San Luis Valley school district faces $400,000 in budget cuts. As a result, this year’s cuts include the superintendent absorbing elementary school principal responsibilities after the school’s principal resigned and took another position. Because of the money saved by not hiring another principal, the District was able to hold onto the music program for this year, but will no longer offer culinary arts courses (have been a part of the school since the 1970s), cut a physical education teaching position, some classes and other educator positions have been absorbed in addition to the elementary principal position, and the fifth grade has been incorporated into the middle school to save on building heating and maintenance costs. (Valley Courier)
  • “I am terrified of what’s happening to the Thompson School District and what that means to our community. We have been cutting fat. As of last year, we’re amputating.” -Marylou Rogers, a library media specialist at Loveland High School & a Thompson School District Budget Proposal Team member. The Thompson School District announced it will have to layoff 48 staff members to cope with budget cuts for 2012-13. In 2010-11, the District laid off 187 licensed employees, including teachers. (Loveland Reporter-Herald)
  • With a fourth year of state cuts, Colorado Springs School District 11 is considering eliminating 48 literacy specialists. Currently, these educators provide teacher coaching, data interpretation and other duties related to increasing literacy across all classes. (KRDO.com)
  • Over 85% of districts responding to a Colorado School Finance Project survey report that they have increased class size, combined grades or eliminated programs in the past 3 years. (Colorado School Finance Project)
  • The Adams 12 Five Star School District has make deep budget cuts for the last 6 of 7 years and estimates that the coming year’s cuts will be between $14-18 million. Budget cuts have resulted in the District instituting new student fees to cutting out sports programs in middle schools, and the recently approved plan to begin advertising on school buses, which is expected to raise an additional $10,000 in the first year of the program. (Your Hub)
  • Colorado has the 3rd largest poverty gap in 4th grade reading, and the gap is growing faster than in any other state. (DC is faster). On a state level $1.8 million is directed toward closing achievement gaps. (2012 Quality Counts Report, page 49; Lobato opinion, Page 61)
  • Colorado funds 36,575 of the 123,002 students identified as English Language Learners in our state. The Colorado Department of Education estimates that the state provides support of about 20-25% of the total educational expenditures incurred by districts to address the needs of English Learner Students (Yet, approximately 65% of school funding comes from the state.). (Colorado School Finance Project)
  • Even though the court in the Lobato case warned the legislature that our school funding system is “unconstitutional” and “unconscionable,” the legislature is considering a budget for next year that cuts per pupil funding below 2006-07 levels. (Great Ed Blog, Page 122)
  • Colorado spends 3.1% of taxable income on K-12 education, compared to a national average of 3.9%. The four highest achieving states (MA, NJ, MD & VT) have an average of 4.8%. (2012 Quality Counts Report, page 62)