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Colo. superintendents tell lawmakers they want $70M more for schools

Colorado Capitol

Colorado’s superintendents have a message for the legislature: if you want results, we need more money.

That’s the sentiment expressed in a letter signed by most of the state’s superintendents to the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee, the panel responsible for drafting the state’s budget.

“To meet the expectations that have been set forth for Colorado’s schools and students, we must receive adequate funding to carry out this important work,” the letter, sent Friday, reads. “We see both short- and long-term challenges to adequately funding Colorado’s schools.”

The letter goes on to outline challenges and the superintendents’ proposed solutions.

In the short term, superintendents want an additional $50 million, on top of what Gov. John Hickenlooper has already proposed, allocated to their schools based on free- or reduced-lunch populations. They also would like to see an additional $20 million given to rural school districts.

And they want that money with no strings attached.

“We further propose that decisions about the specific allocations and use of the aforementioned funds, as well as funds included in the Governor’s State Budget Request, should be made by local boards of education and not directed by policymakers at the state level,” the executives wrote.

Further, the 174 superintendents go on to say the state’s funding system for schools is “structurally flawed.” But they say they’re ready to work with lawmakers to fix the system.

Part of the problem, as the superintendents see it, is the legislature’s use of the “negative factor,” a legislative workaround of multiple constitutional requirements.

While it’s unclear how the state’s school executives and policymakers will work through their issues next year, a Denver judge last week rejected the state’s request to dismiss a lawsuit on the negative factor.

Signed, your state’s superintendents

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