Money constraints will shape state’s education agenda

By Erica Meltzer

CHALKBEAT

There is an elephant in the room as the Colorado legislature convenes with Democratic majorities in both chambers — and it’s made of money.

Lawmakers have ambitious goals for education that include improving the preparation and support of novice teachers, attracting more teachers to shortage areas, ensuring more students learn to read and that more high school students can take college classes, and expanding mental health services in schools.

There’s a new political dynamic at the Capitol and a new governor, Jared Polis, who campaigned on funding full-day kindergarten and expanding access to preschool.

But not everything has changed.

“We still have the exact same budget issues facing our schools as we did 12 months ago, as we did three years ago, as we did eight years ago,” said state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, a member of the Joint Budget Committee. “The budget stabilization factor is almost exactly the same as it was eight years ago.”

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