DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two education bills into law that will increase K-12 public school funding on average by $545 per pupil and address Colorado’s critical teacher shortage.
The School Finance Act, HB22-1390, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Barbara McLachlan and Senator Rachel Zenzinger, makes historic investments to increase funding levels for Colorado’s public schools to the highest level since the last economic recession.
“The 2022 School Finance Act is a record investment in our public schools to improve educational outcomes for students and buy down a massive portion of the Budget Stabilization Factor,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “This law increases funding for K-12 schools so our districts can maintain small class sizes, boost teacher pay and make sure classrooms have the resources they need to provide high-quality public education.”
“Thanks to the hard work we have done on this year’s School Finance Act, the Budget Stabilization Factor will fall to the lowest level since its inception,” said Senator Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “I’m proud of the responsible way that we have managed this issue, and of the increases we will see to Colorado school districts’ per pupil funding. This year’s School Finance Act makes resources available to teachers and students that they need and deserve.”
“I am proud to say Colorado is investing in teachers, students and K-12 public schools,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, Chair of the House Education Committee. “This year’s school finance act will increase per pupil funding to a record high, which school districts can use to reduce classroom sizes or increase teacher pay. We are also knocking down financial barriers to entering the teaching profession by providing loan forgiveness and stipends for teachers statewide. More resources leads to stronger schools, improving learning and better preparing students for the road ahead and I am so proud to stand behind both of these bills as they’re signed into law.”
The 2022 School Finance Act increases total funding for public schools by $431 million to a record $8.4 billion total and reduces the Budget Stabilization Factor by over $180 million to the lowest level since it was created. The increases in funding for K-12 public schools will result in an average increase of $545 per student. This funding will be used to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay and provide individualized support to help students learn.
The School Finance Act was amended to incorporate the text of HB22-1002, which lifts the current cap on the number of students who can participate in the accelerating students through concurrent enrollment program (ASCENT) and makes it available to more students. This program saves Coloradans money as they pursue their higher education degrees.
The Governor also signed HB22-1220, championed by Representatives Cathy Kipp and Barbara McLachlan and Senator Rachel Zenzinger, which will invest more than $52 million in federal funding to attract new educators to the workforce by reducing financial barriers to entry.
“This law is designed to address Colorado’s critical teacher shortage,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins. “We’re saving teachers money through loan forgiveness and student educator stipends so more talented educators can enter the profession with less of a financial burden. Colorado students need teachers to prepare them for educational success, and this law works to get more talented, qualified teachers in classrooms.”
“I know from personal experience how nearly impossible it is for student teachers to meet their prep obligations while supporting themselves financially via a second or third job,” said Senator Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “This bill establishes several programs that will help reduce student teachers’ stress and make the pathway toward a career in education far more appealing. It’s way past time to implement this kind of legislation.”