The Colorado State Senate voted unanimously April 25 to pass SB19-246, Public School Finance, a bill sponsored by Sen. Nancy Todd (D-Aurora) to increase statewide funding for public school students and focuses on special education needs. The bill now heads to the Colorado House of Representatives for consideration.
“A quality education is the cornerstone of a child’s growth and success,” said Todd, a former educator*. “Increasing financing for Colorado’s public schools is an investment in our state’s future and will allow us to improve education for kids in every corner of Colorado.”
SB19-246 would increase the statewide base per pupil funding for the 2019-2020 budget year by $182.76. The bill also improves funding for rural school districts, appropriates money for English language learner programs and allocates resources to address behavioral health issues in schools.
One of the most important investments made by the School Finance Bill was a result of Amendment 23, an amendment introduced by Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D-Arvada) that will increase the percentage of special education funding from 31.4 percent to 47.5 percent.
“Special education funding is a top concern for educators across Colorado, and this critical funding will provide school districts, particularly rural districts, much-needed relief,” said Zenzinger. “This is a critical step toward ensuring that every child gets a great education, regardless of where they live or if they are disabled.”
The $22 million increase in Colorado public school funding would be historic. It would be a permanent increase that will grow with inflation and help schools provide support to students with the most significant needs. According to Todd, this amendment to the bill will provide much-needed relief to rural districts where special education funding is particularly difficult for rural districts because they do not have the economies of scale to accommodate and meet the needs of some of their more severely disabled students.
For more information on SB19-246 and Amendment 23, go to www.leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-246.
* Editor’s Note: I have known Nancy Todd for more than 15 years and her focus on public education is sincere. Todd was my daughter’s teacher when she attended West Middle School in the Cherry Creek School District.