HB18-1232 (Young/Kerr & Coram) New School Funding Distribution Formula
The bill creates a new student-centered public school funding formula to replace the 1994 school finance formula. The proposed formula utilizes weights to account for student characteristics such as poverty (expanding the current “at-risk” factor to include students eligible for both free and reduced price lunch) and English learner, special education, and gifted and talented status. The new formula would also provide full-day funding for kindergarten students in full-day programs (currently, the state pays for only a half day) and provide half-day pre-K funding for kids served in early childhood programs. The bill takes effect only if voters approve a ballot measure before 2022 that increases funding for preschool through high school public education.
The opportunity to overhaul Colorado’s school finance system presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine the potential of our education system. In our current system, many children enter school unprepared to succeed, and achievement gaps widen as they progress through school, resulting in poor academic performance, grade repetition, expensive remedial services, and high rates of school dropout. This is because, in part, Colorado continues to finance public education through methods that have no demonstrable link to the cost of delivering a rigorous education that can produce high achievement in all students.
The Children’s Campaign supports this bill because it is the first step towards establishing an adequate and equitable school finance platform that will drive Colorado’s reforms of the past and future. While Colorado is moving ahead in many ways, the state’s formula for funding schools remains largely unchanged since 1994, meaning the for 24 years our investments have not been aligned with dramatic changes in our student population, increasing competition in the workforce, innovations in technology and education delivery, and requirements that have come along with systemic policy changes. A growing body of research shows a clear link between targeted investments based on student needs and improved outcomes, and this bill accounts for the unique challenges posed by geography, poverty, English proficiency and special education status, among other factors. While much work remains to be done to fix our broken and unsustainable revenue system for K-12 education, this is the first and most fundamental step in ensuring that structural barriers to opportunity are removed, leading to more equitable outcomes, and ensuring that all students in Colorado graduate from high school prepared for college, careers and life.
Assigned to the House Education Committee