Apr 30, 2024 - Education

Capitol Pulse: Colorado's school funding overhaul in limbo

Illustration of the Colorado State Capitol with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A massive overhaul of how Colorado pays for schools is facing a significant roadblock at the Capitol.

State of play: The new formula will distribute more money to districts based on the number of students with special needs, rather than the cost of living, as well as make other changes.

  • The state's largest teacher's union is objecting to the bipartisan legislation put forward by the House speaker and top Senate Republican because of worries it will lead to less funding in the future and open the door to public support for private schools.

Why it matters: The opposition from the Colorado Education Association, which represents 40,000-plus teachers and a prominent force within the Democratic majority, puts the future of the decade-in-the-making legislation in jeopardy.

What they're saying: Union president Amie Baca-Oehlert launched a statewide campaign asking members to voice their dislike to lawmakers even as she says she's open to working on needed changes, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.

The big picture: The 30-year-old formula is disliked by school leaders across the state but few agreed on how to revamp it because it's a zero-sum game.

Reality check: All school districts will get more money at first β€” a collective $500 million infusion over six years. But questions remain about the sustainability of the extra dollars and the fears that some districts will get less money in future years.

  • The American Federation of Teachers Colorado and a handful of districts, including Boulder, Douglas County, Adams 12, Cherry Creek and Littleton, also oppose the bill.

What's next: A flurry of amendments added to the bill Friday will improve chances for passage, but critics say more is needed before a full House vote as early as this week.

πŸ”” Capitol Pulse is a regular feature designed to get you smarter, faster about what's happening at the state Capitol.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the Colorado Education Association.


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