Polis signs bills that change how Colorado’s public schools are funded

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

DENVER (KDVR) — For decades, Coloradans have been concerned about funding for schools in the state. The governor signed two laws Thursday that supporters say will put the state on the path for the future of school funding.

Colorado GOP urges parents to remove kids from public schools

The governor signed the two bills in front of a crowd of little ones who had no idea what he was talking about, but the bills will impact them.

“Students, this is a very exciting last day of school, isn’t it? It’s not every day that you get to see a bill turn into a law but also one that really helps support and fund our schools. So thanks to the work of these legislators, we’re going to be signing two bills today,” Polis told the students at Virginia Court Elementary School in Aurora.

The first law eliminated the budget stabilization factor — called BS factor for short — in the state’s school finance formula by paying it down, freeing up more resources for students in classrooms across Colorado.

“This represents the fact the fact that we are going to be able to move forward into the future and every student is going to be able to be in a classroom that, for the first time since the mid-2000s, will be fully funded,” said state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger. The former educator acknowledged that funding will now go back to 1989 levels but said it’s the start of progression for school funding.

Gov. Jared Polis signing a bill in front of elementary school students
Gov. Jared Polis signing a bill in front of elementary school students

Polis: ‘You will see the benefits of that next year’

Polis explained how the funding levels will change.

“It’s about $17,000 more in funding per classroom depending on the size of the class. So that’s very significant. You will see the benefits of that next year,” Polis told the students.

And as the state ushers out the old, they ushered in a new school finance formula with a second new law.

“What the second bill did was change that formula,” said House Speaker Julie McCluskie, a prime sponsor of the new formula. “It said it’s time that we drive more money to kids that have greater needs. To school districts in poorer parts of our state, for small, rural areas where we have less access to programs and services locally. So I’m very excited that not only are we driving more money to our schools by paying off the BS factor, we are also driving more equity into our schools.”

Colorado’s lieutenant governor admitted to hospital

With new concepts comes uncertainty. Some educators said the new formula may have unintended consequences.

“Part of the challenge with the new finance formula is we have 178 school districts in Colorado — 178 school districts are going to be impacted differently in that rewrite of the School Finance Act,” said Amie Baca Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association. “It’s complicated and complex, and when we represent every single school district across the state, we had to be sure that we were looking out for the interests and needs of every educator as well as every student across the state.”

The Colorado Education Association opposed the new formula but was neutral on the final law, saying it is a start, but there is more work to be done in that area.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to FOX31 Denver.