Across the Street column: State Board of Ed determines school district funding
Across the Street
Across the street, literally.
During our monthly meeting, as the first week of the 72nd legislative session began, the State Board of Education walked across the street to attend the State of the State address. Jared Polis, our new governor, reiterated his primary-education-related promise: “Our top priority this session is empowering every single Colorado community to offer free, full-day kindergarten while expanding free preschool to 8,000 more Colorado children.”
The state already pays for kindergarten students to attend for half-day classes. Many school districts offer full-day kindergarten, using district funds and parent-paid tuition to pay for the additional half day. If the state agrees to pay for free full-day kindergarten for all kindergarten students in Colorado, the estimated cost will be an additional $250 million per year.
In the first week of the new session, 107 new bills were introduced. Seventeen of these involved education. Of the 17, five were sponsored by Democrats, four by Republicans and eight were bipartisan. From their introduction, the bills will pass through the Senate and House committees, and to both Senate and House Chambers before they become law. Many never get that far, but for now, legislators worked into the night to get their five bills written and submitted by the Jan. 10 deadline.
In addition to following all the legislative activity at the Capitol, the State Board of Education met for two days. One of our duties involved a vote to approve the monthly allocation of state funds to the 178 school districts in Colorado.
Under the Public School Finance Act of 1994 (Section 22-54-115, C.R.S.), the State Board is responsible for determining the monthly amount of money each school district receives from the state. At our January meeting, we certified the December 2018 calculations and distribution. All districts and state distribution amounts were listed. The calculations for January through June 2019 will be certified at the February meeting. All information is available on the State Board of Education website.
Here are examples of the state distribution for districts in three counties that I represent: Roaring Fork School District with 5,524 students, $1,825,907.67; Garfield Re-2 with 4,740 students, $2,749,786.13; Garfield District 16 with 1,163 students, $681,911.92; Meeker with 700 students, $191,591.25; Rangely with 483 students, $288,488.64; and Moffat County with 2,106 students, $595,107.88. Throughout all of Colorado, the December distribution totaled $367,678,953.24.
In another vote, the State Board approved a charter school appeal for the SKIES Academy. The SKIES Academy Charter application was initially granted, but later revoked, by the Cherry Creek School District. The State Board found that this was not in the best interests of students, families and the community and remanded the charter to go back to the local district to work together for a resolution. Charter SKIES Academy, based at Centennial Airport, will be a hands-on, project-based curriculum for sixth- through eighth-graders. It will focus on students desiring a possible career in aerospace engineering, piloting and other aspects of aviation.
Thus, we begin the first month of the 2019 legislative session and the first state Board Meeting of the new year.
Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. The Department of Education is located across the street from the Capitol. “Across the Street” appears monthly in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and at postindependent.com.
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