2023 School Finance Act increases average per pupil K-12 public school funding by a record 10.6 percent
THORNTON, CO – Three bills to invest in public schools and set students up for success were signed into law by Governor Polis today.
SB23-287, the bipartisan School Finance Act sponsored by Senator Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, and Reps. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Cathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins, raises the statewide average of per pupil funding to $10,614 and reduces the Budget Stabilization Factor by $180 million, while committing lawmakers to fully eliminating the Budget Stabilization Factor for the 2024-2025 school year.
“Every Colorado student deserves a quality education that meets their individual needs and prepares them for success,” said Zenzinger, sponsor of SB23-287 and SB23-099. “Education is my number one priority at the legislature, which is why I am so proud of the major step forward we’re taking today on the path to fully funding public education in Colorado. We have more work ahead of us, but this year’s School Finance Act contains the largest commitment to public education in Colorado history, something our schools desperately need and deserve.”
“As a former teacher, I know firsthand how crucial it is to properly invest in our students and schools to provide the necessary resources to allow them to thrive,” said McLachlan, sponsor of SB23-287 and HB23-1231. “These new laws increase per pupil funding, commit to buying down the Budget Stabilization Factor over the next two years, and provide after-school math lesson opportunities. Addressing the Budget Stabilization Factor was one of the main reasons I ran for office, and I’m proud that the School Finance Act makes significant progress to properly fund our schools. Colorado students deserve a quality education, and these new laws will boost math performance and allow our students to better succeed in school through increased funding.”
“Today, Colorado is taking a critical step in providing robust funding for our schools to help students learn and thrive,” said Kipp, sponsor of SB23-099 and SB23-287. “Our new laws will fund special education services within our schools and invest $665 million more annually in Colorado’s K-12 public schools to reduce classroom sizes, increase teacher pay and ensure schools have the resources they need to provide every student the high quality education they deserve. These laws will create a better learning environment for all of our students while better supporting schools and educators.”
SB23-287 also includes a $30 million one-time appropriation for rural schools, and brings total K-12 funding for the 2023-24 budget year to more than $9.1 billion. This funding can be used to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay, and provide individualized support to help students learn.
The bill will also create a task force charged with examining Colorado's public school financing system and making recommendations that would make the school finance formula more transparent, equitable, and student-centered.
Polis also signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by McLachlan and Senator Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, to improve Colorado students' math performances from pre-K to 12th grade.
Also sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Lundeen and Rep. Rose Pugliese, R-Colorado Springs, HB23-1231 provides robust support for students, families, and teachers through evidence-informed tools and programs to expand time-on-task math engagement for students and training for educators and parents. The new law makes it easier for students to get the support they need to improve their math skills both in and out of school.
“Colorado kids deserve the best possible education, but right now too many of our students are failing to earn a passing grade when it comes to their math skills,” said Marchman. “As a math teacher I know firsthand how crucial these skills are, which is why I am proud to see this bill signed into law. Resources like after-school programs and specialized training will give parents and educators the tools they need to get our kids caught up, and will help ensure that students of all ages are getting the high-quality education they need to thrive.”
HB23-1231 permits the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to provide free math training and technical assistance for teachers to incorporate math education tools in the classrooms and identify areas of improvement for students. The new law will enable schools to send notifications to parents and caregivers if their students are underperforming or struggling in math, and incorporates a train-the-parent model to increase understanding of math concepts at home.
It also creates a new state-based grant program focused on after-school math and STEM improvement. In addition, HB23-1231 integrates early numeracy into universal preschool quality standards and establishes a Ninth Grade Success Grant Program to help students tackle math concepts at a critical point in their education.
Finally, Polis signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by Zenzinger and Kipp that will boost funding and improve special education in Colorado.
Also sponsored by Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Weld County, and Rep. Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock, SB23-099 will increase the required annual appropriation to CDE by an additional $40 million, and will help bring down student-teacher ratios, decrease class sizes, and help schools provide tailored assistance for students within special education to support their learning needs and ensure they receive the quality education they deserve.
SB23-099 builds off the success of last year’s SB22-127, which dramatically increased funding for more than 100,000 Colorado special education students, from about $220 million per year to more than $300 million per year moving forward.