There’s always a lot of chatter this time of year about school funding. In particular, every single year there are bills introduced at the Capitol (they’re also always nearly identical) to introduce vouchers and/or tax credits, even though it is unconstitutional in Colorado and Colorado voters have said NO very loudly to ballot issues twice in the past.
The other that comes up is funding charter schools equally. The past few sessions have brought up sharing of local district mill and bond dollars.
We’ll say it again, there’s a different between EQUAL and EQUITY. There’s an Action Item at the bottom of this, help us make calls and emails!
We need to have serious discussion about this topic so people really understand the funding issues. Choices can be great and the charters and options in Jeffco, in addition to strong neighborhood schools, make for a variety of programs to suit the needs of every child. However, the cost to educate children as individuals varies greatly. Every child has different needs and every area has different needs.
Senate Bill 61 brings up the topic yet again this year. Senate Education passed this today, March 13th. It now goes to the Senate as a whole to vote and then to House Education.
We have to ask you to contact your House Representatives about this. We ask you to contact ALL House Representatives about this to give your feedback.
In the grand plan for education funding and how pathetic our funding is in Colorado, this is just ridiculous. We end up taking away from some students to give more to others. We SHOULD be working together to advocate for more education funding for ALL Colorado students, not dividing our communities.
An Amendment was approved on SB61 that would force cash-strapped districts to run an election this fall to ask voters whether or not they want current mill levy revenue to go to charters. Regardless of the outcome of that election, districts would be forced to share any new revenue approved by voters with charter schools whether they need it or not.
This puts voters in a position this fall in which they could overwhelmingly ‘vote no’ on giving charters current local money, but then on the very same ballot, ask voters to approve a separate question that gives additional mill levy revenue to charter schools in a fixed amount.
There are many good charters in Colorado. There are also many good neighborhood schools. Charters get 100% of their PPF passed directly to them (less about 5% for services that districts provide for them, though the cost of those services is more than 5%.)
Charters also receive $277.98 per student for capitol funding (buildings), directly from the State from Marijuana funding. Neighborhood schools do not get those funds and must share approximately $40 Million per year in 178 school districts and can only apply for matching grants from the BEST funds. Charters are also able to obtain waivers from a variety of mandates that other schools cannot opt out from. This enables charters to operate their schools more economically through their independent choices and less expensively.
In Jeffco, we have always shared our mill and bond monies with charters. ALWAYS! There has always been a seat at the table for charters on the mill and bond campaigns and we’d like to see more parents helping advocate for ALL students. Not many show up to help and some have even advocated against mill and bond issues, even though they receive funds from the initiative.
Some districts have chosen to run mill and bond campaigns for items such as full-day kindergarten or other specifics such as a new high school. Diverting those funds would be ignoring the will of the voters in an already complex funding structure and with negative talk about charters that have failed (Edison is only one example) and for profit charter entities, this may negatively impact education funding for all students in Colorado.
Charters offer another option for families and a little over 10% of students in Colorado make the choice of a charter. There are good charters, please remember that. However, note what Senator Nancy Todd had to say, “Charter schools are not the silver bullet to solve our education issues. Let’s work together and not override local districts’ power.”
Local control allows all 178 school districts to use funding to operate in ways that suit their economic condition and the specific needs of their communities when it comes to mill and bond monies. SB61 doesn’t serve all Colorado students, it further separates students and produces more winners and more losers and adds to the division. No one should be picking and choosing on local control issues.
Please stop bills that divide our communities and allow local control, accountability, and transparency to serve communities.
Now make those calls and emails! Start with the ones on top in bold, those are the members of the House Education Committee. Please vote NO on SB61!
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