Welcome back to a new school year! GSV is celebrating ten years of sharing facts on news and issues that impact school funding in the St. Vrain Valley School District. We look forward to continuing our mission, and invite you to read about the new school funding initiative on our ballot in November.
School funding has been a hot topic for many years, thanks to two recessions and resulting cuts to funding, as well as conflicts in constitutional amendments that negatively impact Colorado’s budget. The result: Colorado does not fund its schools as it did decades ago. We have fallen behind the national average, and our per pupil funding is among the lowest in the nation. Some school districts have been able to pass local Mill Levy Overrides to supplement their funding, but many have not. This results in great inequities across our school districts, despite our constitution calling for “a thorough and uniform system of free public schools throughout the state.”
A statewide solution has been in the works for two years, including an unprecedented effort by volunteers. 130,000 valid signatures were collected across every Senate district in the state to put Initiative 93 on the ballot. Last week the Secretary of State announced this measure, now officially called Amendment 73, will be on every voter’s ballot in November.
Amendment 73 moves Colorado closer to the national average in per pupil funding and restores funding cut by the Budget Stabilization Factor. It is supported by almost every superintendent and school board in the state, as well as numerous state organizations. The measure would:
- increase base funding for all students
- support full day Kindergarten statewide
- increase funding for preschool and students with particular needs, such as special education, gifted and talented, at-risk and English language learners.
School districts would have discretion about how to spend the increased funding according to the needs of their district, including attracting and retaining quality teachers, safety, and counseling.
The extra funding would be financed by a tax increase on Colorado’s highest earners and corporations, with 92% of taxpayers being unaffected. Additionally, the measure provides tax relief to farmers, ranchers and small businesses by reducing taxes on non-residential properties.
We invite you to learn more about Amendment 73 and request a presentation for your organization or group today.
Schools did receive good news from the Capitol in May. For the past several years, Colorado’s Budget Stabilization Factor, or amount school funding has fallen behind the rate of inflation, has hovered above $800 million annually. Thanks to this year’s state revenue being higher than expected, legislators were able to pay down the B. S. factor, bringing it to $650 million. However, it is unlikely that we will have enough budget boon years to chip away at this debt to schools—and an economic recession will certainly add to it. If Amendment 73 passes, this shortfall would be eliminated.