Colorado school finance coming into focus

By Sandra Fish

CHALKBEAT

Expect the wrangling over the Public School Finance Act to continue in the next to last week of the 2019 legislation session.

With extra money freed up by unexpected property tax adjustments, the Senate Education Committee resisted an attempt Thursday to reduce a $25 million commitment to rural schools to $15 million and to remove $5 million for behavioral health funding.

But the Senate Appropriations Committee compromised somewhat Friday, approving an amendment reducing rural school funding to $20 million and removing the behavioral health funding.

State Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, an Arvada Democrat and Appropriations chairwoman, noted Senate Bill 246 next goes to the Senate floor “where I believe we will be discussing and possibly adding some further amendments.”

One amendment would move $22 million to special education funding, Zenzinger said in an email Saturday. Another may move any other savings in the bill to the state education fund. Spending more on special education is one of Zenzinger’s priorities this session. Right now, districts pick up the lion’s share of extra costs for students with disabilities.

The $7.4 billion school finance package is scheduled for floor debate on Tuesday, but could be called up on Wednesday instead.

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