School Finance and Constitutional Reform
School finance and constitutional reform continue to be significant issues for school board members. A number of efforts to change Colorado's school funding structure are making their way through the courts or to the ballot. This page will help summarize those efforts and provide resources to help school board members better understand school finance in Colorado.
School Finance ResourcesThe state legislature allocates funding to Colorado's public schools each year on a per-pupil basis through the School Finance Act. This funding is based on characteristics unique to each of Colorado's 178 school districts, and additional funding is allocated for at-risk populations. Local school boards are responsible for adopting a budget each year. Below is additional information and resources to help guide you through public school finance.
- CASB Leadership Workbook: An overview of school finance starts on page 66 (look for an updated workbook in December).
- CASB Resolutions: Resolutions on school finance and tax reform adopted by the CASB Delegate Assembly are on page 8-14 of this document.
- Archived Publications
Lobato vs. the State of Colorado: The Adequacy Lawsuit
Trial in the lawsuit challenging Colorado’s school funding system opened in a Denver district court Aug. 1, 2011. Lobato v. State of Colorado challenges both the state system’s level of funding and the method of determining funding, including the Public School Finance Act, categorical programs and capital construction.
The plaintiffs – a group of 26 parents and 21 school districts – say the state’s current system does not meet the Colorado constitutional requirements of “thorough and uniform.” The defendants say requiring more funding for education would bankrupt the already cash-strapped state.
The trial is set to last five weeks, and at the end, Judge Sheila Rappaport will decide whether Colorado’s education system meets constitutional requirements. If the plaintiffs prevail, the Court’s order will direct the Legislature to fix the system and bring it into compliance with the constitution.Resources:
- CASB's Lobato v. State of Colorado webpage.
- Read CASB’s Resolution on the Lobato case adopted by the CASB Delegate Assembly. It's on page 31 of the 2010 Resolutions Book.
- Read CASB’s Legal Updates on the Lobato case
- Listen to CASB’s very first podcast – an interview with Executive Director Ken DeLay about the trial.
- Read an overview and FAQs by plaintiff supporters.
- Visit EdNews Colorado’s Lobato webpage.
Additional ResourcesColorado School Finance Project
Provides unified and quality leadership on issues related to school funding in Colorado.
Great Education Colorado
Grassroots organization focused on increasing Colorado’s long-term investment in education, from preschool through college.
CDE's Public School Finance webpage
An overview and links to more information regarding school finance in Colorado.
Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute
A nonprofit, nonpartisan project of the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, promoting justice and economic security for all Coloradans.
Colorado Economic Futures Panel
Analyzes the state's difficult fiscal situation and provides a platform for informed discussion and possible solutions.Their mission is to build public trust and improve the processes of public policy decision-making to build a better Colorado.