Colorado, like many other states in the United States, struggles to provide adequate funding for our public schools. While state funding is a crucial component of ensuring that students receive a quality education, it is often not enough to meet the needs of every student.
Colorado spends $3,087 less than the national average per pupil.
School districts can turn to their community for additional funding, and voters in Boulder Valley have been generous with approving bonds for capital needs. However, there are state mandated limits on how much Districts can raise using local property taxes. This is where school foundations come in.
Impact on Education, an independent non-profit, provides additional funding to the Boulder Valley School District, supplementing the state and local school funding they receive. Our work helps the District provide every student an excellent and equitable education.
How public education funding works in Colorado
Colorado is unique in that it has a complex school funding formula – the Public School Finance Act of 1994 – that takes into account many different factors, such as student enrollment, the cost of living in different areas of the state, and the number of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
Our public schools are primarily funded by a combination of local (property) taxes and state revenues. Until the late 1980’s Colorado’s per pupil funding was above the national average, when new laws led education funding to fall.
How do school foundations help?
School foundations are non-profit organizations dedicated to raising funds to support public education. In Boulder Valley, we have 56 public schools and 4,000 educators serving nearly 30,000 students. The disparity is real. The opportunity is, too.
In 2022, Impact on Education invested over $3,500,000 to support the Boulder Valley School District.
Our work engages students and empowers educators to make sure every student has access to the resources they need, when they need them. Because even when life isn’t fair, access to an excellent and equitable education should be. Our support helps improve student outcomes by:
- Expanding or launching new programs and services, including the expansion of high school wellness centers, summer learning for incoming kindergarten students, and career readiness workshops for highschoolers
- Ensuring all students have access to school supplies and learning tools
- Resourcing educators and schools to expand opportunities for students
- Investing in and supporting new BVSD programs and initiatives
- Advocating for equitable public education
- Providing timely and effective resources to meet emerging needs and address community crises
Some good news
The Boulder Valley School District is expecting an additional $18.2 million in next year’s budget, including about $12 million in state per-pupil funding and about $3.8 million from the $120 million allocated statewide to reduce the budget stabilization factor. The budget stabilization factor allows the state to use promised K-12 education funding in other areas of the budget. An additional $2.8 million in state revenue is pending legislative actions.
At-a-Glance: Public education funding in Colorado
Learn more about how school funding works in this slideshow from Great Education Colorado.
- In 1982 the Gallagher Amendment passed which limited local revenues by cutting the residential assessment rate (the percent of the value of a home that is taxed) by two-thirds. School districts were able to stabilize local revenues by floating mill rates (the rate charged for property taxes) up from 1982-1992.
- In 1992 the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) passed, requiring voter approval to adjust mill rates, limiting the state’s ability to bolster school funding with state dollars.
- In 2000, Amendment 23 was passed in an attempt to reverse the K12 funding cuts.
“Amendment 23 became a ceiling and not the protective floor it was originally intended to be. Its measure of inflation is the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which does not reflect the kinds of things that school districts must pay for, like health care, heating, cooling and fuel costs. Starting in 2009, the legislature reinterpreted Amendment 23 and established the Negative Factor—allowing deep cuts to schools. As a result of that reinterpretation, schools are currently being funded at a level of $572 million below what the proper interpretation of Amendment 23 requires.
– Great Education Colorado, Funding FAQs
- In 2020, Amendment B passed which prevents any further reductions in the residential assessment rate, eliminating the effect of the Gallagher Amendment.
BEFORE YOU GO …
Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 29,000 students and 4,000 educators in the Boulder Valley School District.