(May 21) – Declaring his belief that it makes Colorado a national model for equitable and accountable financing of public schools, Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed into law a sweeping modernization of the state’s K-12 funding formula.
SB13-213 was sponsored in the House by Rep. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and in the Senate by Sens. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) and Rollie Heath (D-Boulder). It is the first update since 1994 to the formula used each year to allocate state dollars to each of Colorado’s 178 school districts.
To elevate a K-12 education system that ranks among the worst-funded in the country and ensure that every child in Colorado has the resources to succeed, the new law would take effect if Colorado voters approve an infusion of much-needed dollars. It would reduce wide disparities in per-pupil funding, provide support for a series of unfunded reform mandates and cure our inability to address increasing demand from English language learners and other at-risk students.
The new law sets a base level of per-pupil funding for all school districts to provide a more equitable distribution of resources, ensures that dollars follow students to their schools, and adds additional funding to disadvantaged districts to bring them up to par. The bill, which included input from business groups and nearly every education stakeholder in the state, also funds full-day kindergarten, increases support for at-risk students, gives districts and principals more freedom to innovate and increases transparency so schools are accountable for every taxpayer dollar they spend.
“This measure is the key that will unlock the door to success for thousands and thousands of young Coloradans,” said Rep. Hamner, a former superintendent of the Summit County schools.
She issued an appeal at the bill signing ceremony for recognition “that there is nothing more important to Colorado’s future than well-educated students and graduates, that we can do better for our kids and for our schools, and that now is the time.”