Lawmakers are trying to solve Colorado’s education funding problem

By Christopher Osher

THE COLORADO SUN

Top legislators this week said they feared the teacher strike in Denver was a symptom of chronic underfunding for Colorado public schools and expressed concern that teachers in other districts will get restless if the state doesn’t tackle school financing.

They pointed out that the state put a budget-balancing tool in place in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, that has deprived school districts of anywhere from $672 million to $1 billion in state aid annually.

But they didn’t point to specific solutions.

Now, as Denver teachers return to the classroom after negotiating a deal that boosts pay, action is brewing at the state Capitol that could bring big changes in the way money is distributed to Colorado’s 178 school districts and reshape public education statewide.

One proposal on track to hit the desks of state budget writers in the next two weeks would increase education revenue by as much as $451 million annually. A variation of the plan wouldn’t raise additional money but would impact property taxpayers statewide and change how the money is distributed to school districts.

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