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Update Colorado’s Outdated, Inequitable Public School Funding Formula

Colorado’s school funding formula is outdated, inequitable, and not meeting the needs of students. But Colorado legislators have a chance to act THIS YEAR to change the trajectory for schools and kids across the state.

HB24-1448, New Public School Finance Formula, would update the school funding formula for the first time in 30 years, creating a more student-centered, more effective approach to funding our schools.

The new formula would prioritize students living in poverty, English language learners, and students who have special education needs. It would send additional funds to Colorado’s rural and small rural school districts and students.

Research suggests that this approach to school funding can help address disparities and improve students’ experiences, achievement, and well-being in school.

HB24-1448 also includes a reasonable phase-in over time to make sure the shift to a more equitable formula is done correctly.

An Opportunity to Prioritize Students

Did you know Colorado’s existing school funding formula has not been updated since 1994 and has resulted in the state sending more money per pupil to some of Colorado’s most well-resourced school districts than to districts where students face the most barriers to educational opportunity?

Without adequate funding, schools face difficulty hiring and retaining staff, paying for updated materials and technology, and maintaining safe, welcoming school buildings—all elements of a high-quality education that every student deserves. 

The school finance formula proposed in HB24-1448:

Puts Students First

by increasing the student weights for at-risk, English Language Learners, and adding a new special education factor. At-risk, English Language Learners, and special education will all be set at a 25% weight. The categorical funding for special education will continue to increase according to law.

Fixes the “Order of Operations”

to make the formula simpler and more understandable than the existing formula, which is complex and out-of-date, and to put student-related factors, rather than district-related factors, first.

Targets District Funding

for size and cost of living and adds a new remoteness factor. The size factor is capped at 6,500 students. The cost-of-living factor is capped at 23%. A new remoteness factor is included to support rural schools. Overwhelmingly, districts that have fewer resources, little property wealth, and serve a higher number of at-risk students and English Language Learners will benefit from the proposed changes.

Creates a Funding Floor

for districts in which their new funding cannot drop beneath FY24-25 under current law.

 

By the Numbers

Data analysts at the legislature estimate that the new formula would mean:

  • 100% of Colorado school districts would receive more funds beginning in 2025.
  • All 850,310 Colorado kids would receive more funding for their schools beginning in 2025.

And, after the formula is fully implemented:

  • $380 million in additional funds would support multilingual learners and at-risk learners each year.
  • $250 million in additional funds would go toward rural schools each year.
  • $280 million in additional funds would support special education learners each year.

The proposal was developed by the School Finance Task Force created by SB23-287Read the full report from the task force or an “at-a-glance” summary.

 


Learn More

Take Action: It’s Time to Update Colorado’s Outdated and Unfair School Finance System

Read the Colorado Children’s Campaign statement on the new funding proposal

 

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