SB21-268: (Zenzinger & Lundeen/McLachlan & McCluskie) Public School Finance

Originally Posted: May 21, 2021
Last Updated: June 11, 2021

Summary

Passed as a bill each year separate from the budget, the School Finance Act (SFA) sets funding levels for Colorado’s 178 school districts for next school year. This year’s SFA restores dramatic cuts that were made to K-12 funding last year, reinstates several grant programs that were paused, and increases per pupil funding by two percent to reflect inflation.  

  • At-Risk Funding – provides a historic one-time $77 million investment for students who were most impacted by the pandemic by expanding the “at-risk” formula factor for the 2021-22 school year to include students eligible for reduced-price lunches (not just those eligible for free lunch).The bill also allows for students to be double-counted for at-risk funding if they are both English Language Learners and eligible for FRL.  
  • Budget stabilization factor (BSF) – lowers the amount of the BSF, the state’s annual cut to K-12 funding, from last year’s high of $1.2 billion to the 2019-20 level of $572 million.  
  • READ Act – allows districts to carry over 15 percent of the per pupil intervention money to the following school year. 
  • School Counselor Corps Grant Program – removes the existing cap and appropriates $2 million from the State Education Fund 
  • Expelled and At-Risk Student Services – amends the grant program to focus on students identified as being at risk of dropping out of school due to chronic absences and disciplinary actions, including classroom removal, suspension, and expulsion by focusing on alternatives to suspension processes and systems including restorative justice practices, behavior interventions, anti-bias training and equity, diversity and inclusion training. 
  • Mill Levy Equalization – $2 million for mill levy equalization for institute charter schools 
  • Restores funding to grant programs that were reduced or eliminated in the 20-21 budget due to budget cuts brought on by the COVID pandemic: 
    • $250,000 – AP Enrollment Courses Grant Program 
    • $493,907 – Local Accountability Systems Grant Program 
    • $2.5 million – K-5 Social and Emotional Health Pilot Program 
    • $3 million – Behavioral Health Care Professional Grant Program 

Position

The Children’s Campaign supports the bill. This year’s SFA increases and targets investments to at-risk students including English language learners and students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. It also restores funding to essential grant programs that were created but not funded in response to the pandemic. 

Current Status

Senate concurred with House Amendments. The bill repassed the Senate unanimously and now heads to the Governor for signature. 

Previous Status


May 21, 2021

Passed the House Education Committee unanimously and now heads to the House Appropriations Committee for consideration.