SB61 Myths and Facts

We’ve asked you to call your legislators and ask them to say no to #SB61. A few questions have been asked on our page about this as well. Now, here’s a list of myths and facts about SB61, pay special attention to the first item:

 

MYTH #1: Senate Bill 61 treats all 178 districts equitably.

FACT: While it includes all 178 districts and CSI charters, there is earmarked language that gives preferential treatment to a few specific districts:

  1. Under “restricted revenue”, the “third-party agreement” language solely benefits Denver Public Schools (DPS) which allows them to reduce their per pupil shares and thereby provide less mill levy revenue to charter students. If SB 61 passes, it prevents other districts from entering into similar agreements by locking in this special status in that the 3 rd – party agreement “existed before the effective date of this section” [pre-amended version 2, page 3, lines 2-3]. 
  2. There is also language that benefits Cheyenne Mountain School District (CMSD), which authorizes a single charter school, The Vanguard School, located in Colorado Springs District 11 and Harrison School District. While the Vanguard School serves students from across the Pikes Peak region, the language [pre-amended version 2, page 5, lines 9 – 15] limits the per pupil sharing to only charter students who reside in CMSD but who are enrolled at Vanguard. 
  3. Last, District 49 or “Falcon 49” passed a mill levy override (MLO) in November 2016 to refinance repayments of capital construction costs as part of their “Building Our Future Community” initiative. The amendment, L008, offered by the sponsors in committee [pre-amended version 2, page 5, line 20 to page 6, line 12] is a one-time exemption that prevents any district from entering a similar financial arrangement including Falcon 49 in the future.

This earmarked language within Senate Bill 61 again demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach, or “per pupil mill levy share”, undermines local control and unique financial solutions that voters approve in districts at a time of significant underfunding of public education.

MYTH #2: Equal payments via a fixed “per pupil mill levy share” results in opportunity equity for students.

FACT: Everyone agrees that all students deserve an opportunity to succeed regardless of where they attend school or the type of school they attend. However, equal shares actually fail students who need additional resources while others may not need as much. This is where local control is critical in making those decisions on resource allocation.

The School Finance formula has factors to help provide equity across the state. No one is claiming discrimination against Fountain or Canon City districts that received $7,961 per pupil in 2016-17 while Deer Trail district received $15,276 per pupil.

The same equity nuances exist on the micro level within districts which is why local control of resource allocation is vital.

MYTH #3: Senate Bill 61 solves the issue that mill levy override ballot language says “all students.”

FACT: Voters are thoughtful, informed and should be respected as such. If voters are unhappy with how local funds are distributed then they can take it up with their locally-elected school board. Nothing currently prevents a charter school from requesting additional mill levy revenue as part of their charter/contract with a district. If voters are still unhappy after these efforts they can vote school board members out at the next election. This bill violates voter intent by affecting mill revenue approved before some charter schools existed within a district. If voter information is the problem, then there are other solutions to make it clear to voters about what they are voting on. Taking away local control from elected officials is not an appropriate solution.

 

Now, if you haven’t already, please take action and contact your legislators. Ask them to oppose #SB61. Go to the link here for more information:

http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/this-is-not-a-drill-we-need-you/

 

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