Bill would give more funding to state schools
DENVER — A bipartisan group of lawmakers plans to introduce a measure into the Colorado Legislature in the next few days to increase spending for K-12 education and implement a few changes to address disparities in how schools are funded.
The measure calls for spending an additional $303 million to address everything from easing the so-called negative factors inherent in the annual School Finance Act to using tax revenue from marijuana sales to add kindergarten space in schools that want them.
“The Student Success Act ... will provide education reforms that will provide fiscal transparency, a more accurate student count, greater funding for our charter schools, and also address the desires from the superintendents talking about the negative factors,” said House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland.
“And it still will do it within available resources,” DelGrosso added.
While the final amount of school funding will depend on a revenue forecast for the coming year that won’t be available until next month, the measure would add $80 million to restore some of the cuts made to school funding during the recent recession, $35 million for English-language proficiency, $20 million for reading programs, and $13 million for charter schools.
All that would be recurring funding.
The plan also calls for $115 million in one-time funding, and $40 million in capital construction, the bulk of which would go toward kindergartens.
But while the lawmakers said they were proud of what they were trying to do, some said they were dismayed at what they can’t do without more money, such as ensuring all schools provide all-day kindergarten.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said that won’t happen unless Colorado voters approve a tax increase similar to Amendment 66 that they overwhelmingly rejected last fall.
“We’d love to do more, but it’s not fiscally sustainable,” he said. “We can come together on certain aspects with an increase in our budget ... to put into some things we all agree on, but it’s not enough to get everything that we were pushing last year.”