Governor Jared Polis signs legislation to fully fund education in Colorado

Senate Bill 24-188 and House Bill 24-1448 update the school finance formula for the first time in 30 years and increase school funding by $500 million.
Posted at 10:53 AM, May 24, 2024

AURORA, Colo. — Governor Jared Polis signed two bills into law Thursday that will fully fund education in Colorado.

Polis signed Senate Bill 24-188 and House Bill 24-1448 into law at Virginia Court Elementary School in Aurora. The bills update the school finance formula for the first time in 30 years and increase school funding by $500 million.

The Senate bill will provide more funding to rural schools and serve more children in poverty and those with special needs. The House bill, on the other hand, zeros out the Budget Stabilization Factor created in 2009 after the financial crisis.

The budget stabilization factor siphoned money away from education to pay for other budget demands. Over 15 years, that siphoning amounted to $10 billion by some estimates.

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Colorado ranks about 45th compared to other states for school finance. Brett Johnson, chief financial officer for Aurora Public Schools, said the bipartisan legislation will have a big impact on school districts like his.

“Districts like Aurora who are over 75% free and reduced lunch, are over 55% English language learners, will very much benefit relative to the population that we serve,” Johnson said. “This bill helps prioritize funding for some of the most vulnerable students. It doubles the at-risk factor. It triples the English learners factor. It creates a brand new special education factor that did not exist prior."

The new funding will phase in over six years.

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