Dec 10, 2011 8:57 PM by Trovette Tottress

Colorado schools could receive more funding after landmark decision

It's a decision that will affect every child in the state of Colorado. On Friday a judge ruled that Colorado schools were severely under-funded. Today plantiffs and members of the legal team celebrated the landmark decision.

Tara Lobato was in the eighth grade when the lawsuit was filed. She's now a sophomore in college.

"To really see what students of Colorado were going through and seeing what struggles they had and seeing the potential we have to help them, there's nothing better than being able to stand up here and have a voice for all of them", said Tara Lobato.

But it's a decision that's six years in the making. In 2005 the Lobato family didn't believe their kids had the same resources as larger districts around the state. Last August in a trial, they along with other parents argued that the school funding system is not thorough and uniform as mandated by the constitution. However, state lawmakers argued that voters should decide how much should be spent on education and brought up concerns about how to pay for it. In a monumental decision District Judge Shelia Rappaport sided with the Lobatos and other parents saying " the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, severely under-funded."

Attorneys for the Lobatos are thrilled about the decision and say with many schools falling behind the ruling couldn't come fast enough.

"As we speak, kids are going through a system that is inadequately funded, facilities that are falling down, and inadequate text books with teachers who are not paid a fair wage", said Kathy Gebhardt, one of the lead attorneys on Lobato v. State of Colorado,

Currently the state's entire budget is around 7 billion dollars.  Nearly half of  the budget is spent on education. The new decision could force state legislators to come up with $4 billion dollars more in order for school funding to be constitutional. That could leave jails, roads and other state programs without funding.

Members of the D-11 School District Board say their schools are trying to enact reforms mandated by the state. And with the ruling, they believe they will finally get the resources needed to implement them.

"We've increased our population of students over 100 thousand and we just have more need in the state (but) we don't have more money", Jan Tanner President of the D-11 School Board.

Friday's ruling is a decision they're hoping will give students more promise to a brighter education.


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