SB21-053 (Moreno & Zenzinger/McCluskie & McLachlan) Adjustments To School Funding Fiscal Year 2020-21
The bill would solidify the General Assembly’s intent to maintain total program funding for the original appropriation made during the 2020 legislative session as part of the mid-year supplemental process. It would also appropriate additional funding for the 2020-21 budget year for districts that experienced lower-than-expected counts of “at-risk” students (those identified as eligible for free lunch) and districts who would have more than a two-percentage point decrease in total program funding from what was estimated during the 2020 legislative session due to enrollment declines. Finally, the bill appropriates $25 million for rural schools that the Children’s Campaign and many partners fought for as part of Proposition EE.
The Children’s Campaign supports the bill. The school funding adjustment includes an additional $11.5 million for targeted investment to Colorado’s students living in poverty. Because we have a school finance formula and structure that relies heavily on student count and an inadequate method of measuring poverty, and enrollment numbers dropped by 30,000 as a result of the pandemic, school district budgets were negatively impacted. This adjustment stipulates that a district’s funding will not decrease by more than the decrease in its funded student count, which especially protects districts serving high numbers of students eligible for free lunch. This school year, a confluence of crises has exposed weaknesses in our system of public education and highlighted the urgent need to invest differently.
Signed by the Governor.
February 26, 2021
Passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously and headed to the Senate floor, where it was placed on the consent calendar and passed on 2nd reading. It now awaits a vote on 3rd reading.