Time’s Up

Funding really does matter and that’s why we are hearing so much about it.

If you follow the world of public education, then you are probably aware of what’s going on at the state Capitol these days – especially when it comes to funding:

January 10, Erica Meltzer (Chalkbeat) provided this rundown of first education bills to hit the floor. Yet, only two directly impact funding: HB18-1070 (Sponsors Rep. Wist & Rep. Young), which addresses BEST funding and SB18-004 (Sponsored by Sen. Andy Kerr) asks to refer a measure to the voters for funding of full day Kindergarten.


Just this week, Chalkbeat also posted a story that included research regarding how much the cuts from the recession of 2008 have impacted student performance (grades and graduation stats).


“The latest analysis, conducted by three Northwestern University researchers, found that the impact of the spending cuts was substantial. Cutting per-student spending by 10 percent throughout a student’s high-school years reduced their likelihood of graduating by nearly 3 percentage points.”

In this article, Chalkbeat reporter Matt Barnum goes on to say:

“Ten states saw overall spending decline by that much or more for four consecutive years since 2008. Other states saw drops that were less severe, particularly because federal spending spiked due to the stimulus. By 2011, total education spending nationwide had fallen by about 4 percent.”

How do we relate to this on a local level? Here’s a little on Jeffco history –

Nov. 2008, the district failed to pass a mill/bond ($32M mill levy over ride/$350M bond) and in Dec. 2009 the district was facing $30 to $40 million in cuts over the following two years including possible closure of 11 schools. https://www.denverpost.com/2009/12/12/jeffco-districts-closures-rally-public-community-officials/

In 2009, Colorado legislature rescinded $130 million, which grew to $1 billion in 2014, and is presently at about $850 million (*Governor Hickenlooper’s 2019 budget proposal would buy down the Negative Factor, now known as the Budget Stabilization Factor). See Negative Factor by school year below.


In 2011, Jeffco employees took a 3 percent pay cut across the board.

From 2009-2012 the district had reduced more than $63 million from the budget, streamlined administrative costs, reduced employee compensation, and cut nearly 450 jobs. The district was facing another $46 million in cuts for 2013/14 school year. 2012-2013 spending would be below that of 2007-2008.

Nov. 2012 voters passed $39 Million mill levy override and $99 Million Bond. Even with the passage of the mill levy override, staff was asked to continue to absorb the increasing cost of health care, which had tripled over the past 10 years.


2012 was the last mill levy override (dollars for operations) passed in Jeffco and since the Great Recession – those dollars were intended to prevent further cuts that year (an additional $46 million in cuts projected for 2013/14).

2012 was the last bond (dollars for capital/construction) passed in Jeffco – it was intended to do bare minimum maintenance to keep students and staff in schools “safe, warm & dry.” Jeffco’s last bond for major construction (building new schools, new additions, major construction projects) was in 2004, 14 years ago. Today, Jeffco has capital needs that exceed well over $1 billion, and as our buildings continue to age, the need for capital infusion continues to grow and become more urgent.

Here’s a look at the Negative Factor by school year

2010-11          $381M
2011-12         $774M
2012-13         $1.001B
2013-14         $1.004B
2014-15         $880.1M
2015-16         $830.7M
2016-17         $830.7M
2017-18         $828.3M *


In 2015-16, Colorado per pupil funding was the same as 2007-08.

Funding really does matter and that’s why we are hearing so much about it now. We hear a lot about it, but we just never do anything to really fix it.

“They say, if you want to know what a community values, look at how its children are treated. If you want a sense of what a community hopes for the future, look at how it values its schools.”