Coalition encourages Colorado General Assembly to prioritize equity and need in distribution of K-12 dollars through the School Finance Act

Written by: Leslie Colwell
Date Posted: May 22, 2020

This week, the Children’s Campaign joined three dozen child advocacy organizations, early childhood education providers and school districts working with and on behalf of Colorado K-12 students and their families, in a letter to encourage legislators to target limited resources where they will make the biggest difference for kids in the School Finance Act.

Since the Joint Budget Committee returned to the Capitol this month, it has become clear that painful cuts to preK-12 spending appear unavoidable in the coming years because of dramatic revenue losses. Cuts to education funding have historically been made through a mechanism called the budget stabilization factor, which has applied an across-the-board funding cut to all school districts in the state.

The joint letter points out that, especially in these difficult times, an equal percentage cut to all districts would only exacerbate inequities in our school funding system. Legislators currently have the opportunity to interrupt harmful practices that exist in our current system of resourcing schools and students and prioritize the success of young people who are currently furthest from opportunity.

The letter submitted to every member of the Legislature asks that they begin to correct for the inequities that are baked into the current system by incorporating three principles into this year’s School Finance Act:

  1. Account for voter-approved mill levy override funding as a factor in how funding cuts are applied;
  2. Adjust school finance formula factors as a targeted solution, instead of resorting to across-the-board cuts through the budget stabilization factor; and
  3. Continue the state’s investment in preschool and full-day kindergarten.

Read more about the JBC’s discussions about education funding this week and the joint letter’s recommendations here:

Leslie Colwell

About Leslie Colwell

Leslie Colwell serves as the Vice President of K-12 Education Initiatives, leading the Campaign’s work to improve education in the state of Colorado. Before joining the Children’s Campaign in August of 2014, Leslie worked to facilitate partnerships and produce policy agreements, especially in the area of education as an Associate at The Keystone Center. Her professional experience includes working as Legislative Director for State Senator Mike Johnston, managing his education policy portfolio (including his office’s work on HB12-1238, Colorado’s READ Act, and SB13-033, ASSET), and directing a policy fellowship for educators for three summers. Leslie has also worked on Teach For America’s alumni team, and before that taught 6th grade Math and Earth Science as a TFA corps member at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) and on the steering committee of the Colorado Afterschool Partnership.