Colorado’s school finance act would boost K-12 funding next year to more than $9 billion — $150 million more than described in the recently finalized 2023-24 budget and a 7.5% increase from this year.
“The change to school finance is historic,” said Joint Budget Committee Chair Rachel Zenzinger. Average per-pupil spending is proposed to reach $10,579, a 10% increase from this year.
The bill, SB23-287, could set Colorado on the path to fully funding its schools according to constitutional requirements by the 2024-25 school year. Zenzinger said an amendment would lay out a two-year process to eliminate the practice of diverting K-12 dollars to other priorities, known as the budget stabilization factor.
The school finance act would also set aside money for rural districts and those with limited property wealth and provide more assistance to charter schools authorized by the state, which misses out on local revenue-sharing.
But the school finance act also kicks the can down the road — for at least one more year — on any bigger changes to how Colorado distributes money to K-12 schools.
Lawmakers on a special school finance committee had proposed in November to take on a major rewrite of Colorado’s school funding formula. Instead, the committee concluded its work after five years without recommending changes to the General Assembly.
Most districts are opposed to changing how the state distributes money to schools without significantly increasing the overall education budget. That made a formula rewrite a heavy political lift in a session that has been consumed with contentious fights over gun control, housing policy, and access to abortion and gender-affirming care.
Read the full story from our partners at Chalkbeat Colorado.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
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