Funding Charter Schools: New Rules

Charter schools, like all public schools in Colorado, are funded by the School Finance Act based on their October student count.   Up until now, our state did not require that school districts share any proceeds of additional local tax initiatives, or mill levy overrides, with their charter schools.  Practices vary across the state, but currently eleven school districts equitably share voter approved revenue with their charter schools, according to the Colorado League of Charter Schools, and some do not share their MLO proceeds at all.

The St. Vrain Valley School District is already sharing proceeds from both of its mill levy overrides (MLOs) with charter schools based on charter school enrollment in the years the MLOs were passed by voters.  New legislation passed at the Capitol on this issue, House Bill 1375, requires that all school districts equitably share this revenue.  School districts can either:

  • adopt a plan for distributing the revenue to the schools of the school district for the benefit of the students enrolled in the school district; or
  • distribute 95% of the per pupil amount of the revenue to the innovation schools and charter schools of the school district (per pupil distribution).

The St. Vrain Valley School District must make this determination and post the decision on its website by July 2018.  This change takes effect beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.  What does this mean for charter schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District?   It depends on the school.   As student population at each charter school grows or shrinks, that school may receive more or less funding from the MLO based on its enrollment each year…instead of the percentage of the SVVSD student population at the time the MLO was passed, as is the practice now.

Posted in 2012 Mill Levy Override, School Finance

What Is The Negative Factor?

As legislators work on the state budget, a term we always hear when they are determining school funding is the “Negative Factor.”  It is a provision in state law that reduces the amount of total program funding and state aid provided to K-12 school districts.  It acts as a balancing tool for the Legislature, while still abiding by the state requirement of increasing funding by inflation each year.   To explain, let’s review the state per pupil funding formula:

Each district receives “base” per pupil funding (the same for every student in Colorado), plus “factors”, or adjustments for differences between school districts for things like district size, number of at-risk students, and cost of living/personnel costs.  

The state is required by law to increase the base per pupil spending by inflation plus growth each year.  

 

While the state must grow the “base” each year by inflation plus growth, that rule does not apply to the “factors”.  The Negative Factor reduces the factors funding.  

Although overall K-12 funding will increase over last year, the Negative Factor prevents this funding from keeping pace with inflation.

 

According to the Colorado Fiscal Institute, “our schools are currently receiving $831 million below inflation increases since 2009….If per-student support for schools had kept pace with inflation since 2009, schools would be getting $1,007 more per student in 2017-18.”  

The graph below shows how far per pupil funding has fallen below inflation since the introduction of the Negative Factor in 2009. The cumulative impact of the Negative Factor to SVVSD totals $167.3 million.  The blue and green bars represent actual funding, while the red bars show what schools would have received before the Negative Factor was applied.

avg-ppf-and-negative-factor-01

Posted in Uncategorized

Your Chance to Weigh In on Legislation

Currently in our country, citizens are increasingly paying attention to our political landscape.  As policy changes loom, many are asking how their voice or opinion can be heard.  That opportunity exists in Colorado on new bills that are introduced in our state legislature.

You, as a citizen of Colorado, have the right to attend committee meetings and voice your support for or opposition to bills when they are being considered.

GSV watches bills that affect education funding.  Here are the current bills under consideration, a brief synopsis of each, and the link to the bill in the Colorado Legislature.  Use the link to view the bill as written, its progress through the legislature, and dates it will be heard on the floor or in committee.  And, if you decide to attend one of these hearings, let us know!   We may join you there.

  • Senate Bill 17-061, Additional Funding for Charter School Operating Costs: This bill would require school districts to distribute revenues it receives from ongoing local property tax mill levies overrides equally, on a per-student basis, to the school district charter schools. For more information see Senate Bill 17-061
  • House Bill 17-1187, Change Excess State Revenues Cap Growth Factor:  This bill would modify the excess state revenues cap, currently defined by TABOR and Referendum C, by allowing an annual adjustment for an increase based on the average annual change of Colorado personal income over the last 5 years, rather than adjusting for inflation and population growth. For more information see House Bill 17-1187

This document from the Colorado Legislative Council explains How Bills Become Law in Colorado.

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings:

  • March 12, 2017 2:30 – 4:00 pm Congressman Polis, Broomfield High School, 1 Eagle Way, Broomfield, CO 80020
  • March 15, 2017  6:00 – 8:00 pm Senator Fenberg, Representative Hooton, and Representative Becker, Sanitas Brewing Company; 3550 Frontier Ave, Boulder, CO 80301
  • March 20, 2017 6:00 – 8:00 pm Senator Jones, Representative Singer, and Representative Foote, Trail Ridge Middle School, 1000 Button Rock Dr, Longmont, CO 80504
  • April 9, 2017 2:00 – 5:00 pm Congressman Polis, Senator Fenberg, and Representative Singer, Wildflower Pavilion on the Planet Bluegrass Ranch, 500 West Main Street, Lyons
Posted in Legislative Outreach, School Finance

Funding Charter Schools: Change Ahead?

Charter schools, like all public schools in Colorado, are funded by the School Finance Act based on their October student count.   Our state does not currently require that school districts share any proceeds of additional local tax initiatives, or mill levy overrides, with their charter schools.  Practices vary across the state, but currently eleven school districts equitably share voter approved revenue with their charter schools, according to the Colorado League of Charter Schools.  The St. Vrain Valley School District is already sharing proceeds from both of its mill levy overrides (MLOs) with charter schools based on charter school enrollment in the years the MLOs were passed by voters.

New legislation being debated at the Capitol on this issue, Senate Bill 61, proposes that all school districts equitably share this revenue with charter schools based on per pupil enrollment.  If passed, what would this mean for the St. Vrain Valley School District?   It depends on the school.  As currently written, the law would require that revenue received from MLOs each year be shared with charter schools according to each school’s funded pupil count for that year.  For example, if a charter school enrolls 2% of the school district’s students in a given year, it would receive 2% of the MLO proceeds for that same year.  As student population at each charter school grows or shrinks, that school would receive more or less funding from the MLO based on its enrollment each year…instead of the percentage of the SVVSD student population at the time the MLO was passed, as is the practice now.

Posted in 2012 Mill Levy Override, School Finance

The next wave to rock the school funding boat: the Gallagher Amendment

Last month the Denver Post reported that our residential property tax rate will go down next year.  This sounds like good news for homeowners, but it will come at a cost to our schools and state budget.

Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs is projecting a decrease in the residential property assessment rate.  Currently the rate is 7.96% of a home’s market value, which has remained unchanged since 2003.  For next year, the assessment rate is projected to fall to 6.56%.

The reason for the cut is the Gallagher Amendment.  Back in 1982, Coloradans were concerned about rising property taxes due to the increasing value of homes.  The Gallagher Amendment was passed to lock in the ratio at that time of residential to commercial property tax collections:  45% of total statewide assessed values come from residential properties, with the remaining 55% coming from commercial properties.  The commercial property assessment rate has remained unchanged at 29%.  In 1983, the residential assessment rate was 21%.  Over the years residential properties have increased in value much faster than commercial properties, and since the residential percentage of total assessments must stay at 45%…..the assessment rate has been cut nine times.

assessment-rate-graph

These rates cannot go back up in changing economic environments without voter approval, as legislated by TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.  Historically, once a tax rate has been lowered, it stays there.

Our tangled constitutional structure further complicates matters.  By law, the state government must backfill the difference between the total funding determined by the school finance formula and what local taxes provide.  So as residential property taxes go down, the state must come up with the extra funding to meet the school finance formula requirements.

Next year the decrease in the property tax assessment rate  is projected to cut $170 million in local funding to schools.  By law, the state must assume this burden and kick in the difference.  With growth in the state budget limited by TABOR, our Legislature will have tough decisions on which services to cut to make up for the shortfall.  One of these cuts may be to increase the Negative Factor, which would cause school funding to lag even further behind inflation.

To learn more about the tangle between Gallagher and TABOR, check out this video from the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in School Finance

Governor Proposes Cuts to K-12 Funding

 

mlobond2016 had a record number of local school funding measures on the ballot. We are fortunate that 3A, the bond supporting school buildings, passed in the St. Vrain Valley, but many Colorado school districts, including our neighbors to the north, did not receive the same voter support.  Funding inequities between school districts will continue to grow, and this is exactly why we keep an eye on what is happening to education funding at the state level–where this issue must ultimately be addressed.

budget-with-seal-paper-01Looking ahead, Governor Hickenlooper has proposed his Colorado state budget for fiscal year 2017-18.  Due to expected revenues not keeping pace with spending requirements, he is proposing funding cuts not only to higher education and roads, but to K-12 education as well.  The Negative Factor under his proposal will increase by $46 million.  See our separate post for an explanation of what this means for school funding.

great-edGreat Education Colorado is a statewide organization that, like Grassroots St. Vrain, educates and advocates for funding in our public schools. GSV has partnered with Great Education since 2010 and encourages you to sign up to receive their communications on statewide actions impacting education funding.

Posted in School Finance

Do you have a new state senator or representative?

building-capitol-01Grassroots St. Vrain will be meeting with the new and returning legislators in the coming weeks, and will be watching education funding related issues as they come up in the Legislature.  Decisions made at the state level impact students in our classrooms.  If you are interested in participating in the GSV meetings with legislators or joining us at the Capitol, please contact us at info@grassrootsstvrain.org.

Read more about each legislator and see which SVVSD schools fall within their boundaries.

Senators

  • Stephen Fenberg (D) newly elected
  • Matt Jones (D)
  • Vicki Marble (R)

Representatives

  • Mike Foote (D)
  • Matt Gray (D) newly elected
  • Edie Hooton (D) newly elected
  • Lori Saine (R)
  • Jonathan Singer (D)
Posted in School Finance

How Governor’s Negative Factor Increase Hurts School Funding

Each year, on November 1, the Governor of Colorado releases a budget proposal for the following fiscal year which starts on July 1. This proposed budget is considered by the Joint Budget Committee and may become part of the final budget approved by the state legislature in May.

In a nutshell, the Governor’s budget shows the total state budget will increase by 3.3% in 2017-18.  The report states:

  1. Revenue is dampened by a “marked slowdown in overall state tax revenue growth.”
  2. Just like last year, “the State’s revenue cap will prevent expected revenue in the General Fund from being available to meet the needs of the State.”
  3. Projected new expenses exceed projected new revenue by $500.1 million.
New Revenue Projected new General Fund Revenue $426.0 M
New Expense Projected Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) rebates $195.0 M
New Expense Repaying the current year’s reserve $180.8 M
New Expense Statutory transfers to transportation and buildings $164.0 M
New Expense New Medicaid costs $142.8 M
NET: Gap between new revenue and new expenses $500.1 M

Governor Hickenlooper has proposed several balancing actions, one of which is increasing the Negative Factor (the amount funding for K-12 schools has fallen below inflation since 2009) by $45 million.

What does increasing the Negative Factor mean for schools?  You may recall the state per pupil funding formula:  

Each district receives “base” per pupil funding (the same for every student in Colorado), “factors”, or adjustments for differences between school districts for things like district size, number of at-risk students, and cost of living/personnel costs, are added to the base.

The state is required by law to increase the base per pupil spending by inflation plus growth each year.  

 

 

While the state must grow the “base” each year by inflation plus growth, the Negative Factor reduces the “factors” funding.  

Although overall K-12 funding will increase over last year, the Negative Factor prevents this funding from keeping pace with inflation.

 

 

 

According to the Colorado Fiscal Institute, “our schools are currently receiving $831 million below inflation increases since 2009. The Governor suggests adding an additional $45 million to the current shortfall increasing the Negative Factor to $876 million for the FY 2017-18 school year. If per-student support for schools had kept pace with inflation since 2009, schools would be getting $1,007 more per student in 2017-18.”  

The graph below shows how far per pupil funding has fallen below inflation since the introduction of the Negative Factor in 2009. The cumulative impact of the Negative Factor to SVVD totals $167.3 million.

avg-ppf-and-negative-factor-01

It is too early to tell exactly how this will play out in the Legislature for 2017-18. Grassroots St. Vrain will watch the developments in the state budget and the Negative Factor, and will be meeting with legislators before they begin the new session in January.   You can find additional information about how the state budget, or “long bill”, is prepared and approved on the Colorado Fiscal Institute website.

If you would like to play legislator and try your hand at balancing Colorado’s budget, check out this budget simulator.

Posted in School Finance

Volunteer Appreciation Gathering

Please join us for the Yes on 3A Volunteer Appreciation Gathering on Monday, November 14 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at High Plains Bank, 600 Kimbark Street in Longmont.

sponsors_highplains

Posted in Uncategorized

Election results not final, but favorable for 3A

We are happy to share that measure 3A, the bond initiative for St. Vrain Valley schools, has a strong lead.  While the election results are not official, the latest posted returns in Boulder, Weld, Larimer and Broomfield counties show 59% of the voters supporting SVVSD measure 3A.

We would like to thank YOU, all of the volunteers who wrote postcards,  canvassed a neighborhood, held honk & wave signs, placed a Yes on 3A sign in your yard, stopped by an information table, attended a parent meeting, or shared the facts with your friends and neighbors. This is the power of grassroots.

Boulder County Results
Weld County Results
Larimer County Results
Broomfield County Results

Based on the current returns, it appears that Amendment 71, which enacts stricter signature and vote requirements for state constitutional amendments, will pass.  This will make it more difficult to address our statewide school funding challenges.

Posted in 2016 Bond