The False Billion Dollar Budget

We’ve all heard the fictional story about the billion dollar budget for Jeffco. Despite the fact that financial experts across the state AND in our district keep correcting this, those who hate taxes just keep repeating the mantra and saying the district needs to live within their means.

Maybe they’re unaware of the more than $63 million in cuts that haven’t been restored to our kids in Jeffco. Maybe they don’t realize that in the last five years, JeffCo Public Schools has received 481 million dollars LESS from the state of Colorado than was supposed to be budgeted. And there are more budget cuts on the way.

Regardless, let’s end the false billion dollar budget rhetoric. It’s a disservice to our children.


Jeffco’s brilliant financial services team has put together an explanation for us below. We’ve copied the content to make it easy to share and added the graphic as well as a link to print this if you want to share easily on social media:


The key to understanding total appropriations and why schools focus on the General Fund for budgeting begins with understanding the purpose and use of funds.

  • Governmental entities use fund accounting to track revenues and expenditures, mostly due to the fact that some funds have very specific restrictions on how dollars can be spent, e.g. Food Services and Grants.
  • Separate funds are created to track revenue that is received for a specific purpose and to assist with meeting special reporting requirements — similar to separate checking accounts.
  • Having separate funds ensures that dollars are tracked and used for intended purposes and allows for better transparency.
  • Jeffco has fourteen (14) funds, not including the Charter Fund.  The district does not budget for charter schools. Charter schools have sole control of their funds and expenditures and, per state statute, are required to appropriate their own budgets. These funds cannot be used to help with district-managed schools.
  • The General Fund is our main operating fund. It accounts for the majority of district expenditures and offers the best opportunity for impact to student learning.
  • Per Colorado statute the district is required to appropriate a budget for each fund. However, adding appropriations for all of the funds together does not equal the total district expenditures.


Some funds receive transfers from the general fund; thus, adding these funds together would result in double counting because the expenditures occur in both funds. 

And, some funds represent revenue received for a specific purpose (activity/program). Thus, it would be wrong to assume that those dollars could be transferred to the general fund for general operating purposes because suspension of the specific purpose/activity/program would eliminate the revenue.

SJK Note – this represents tshirts that families purchase for field day, fees parents pay, money for yearbooks, field trips, spirit wear, fundraisers, etc. – items we choose to purchase with our own money. NOT tax dollars! The school simply organizes these events and collects the monies for family convenience.


Focusing on the General Fund for budgeting is the most effective way to evaluate the allocation of resources.

  • The total budgeted expenditures (appropriations) for all funds are disclosed in the Adopted Budget and Dollars & Sense publications which are available on the district’s website at


Understanding Total Appropriations Talking Points_Page_2 (1)


You can print this by clicking here – Understanding Total Appropriations Talking Points

Or visit the Jeffco website to read more –