Fear that legislators would cut education funding were put at ease last month when it was decided funding would remain at the same level for the upcoming school year.
“We thought we would, but we didn’t see additional cuts this year,” said Lt. Gov. Joseph A. Garcia.
The School Finance Act, for K-12 schools, provides $57.2 million more in funding from the state this year. The increase is expected to make up for the cost of increased student enrollment next year, but district representatives say more funding is needed to maintain projects.
Administrators are still unsure how to offset the continually increasing costs of operating schools. Garcia said districts have expressed a need for more funding than they are receiving from the state to avoid job and program cuts.
In a press release from the Colorado Education Association, President Beverly Ingle said, “Our state avoided digging a deeper hole for our students, but Colorado educators, parents and communities know maintaining current funding is not enough.”
Mike Wetzel, director of public relations for the CEA, said he was grateful the state did not cut the budget this year, but he thinks more could be done to help schools.
“We feel it is all about priorities,” Wetzel said. ”Colorado needs to make education a priority.”
Most revenue for Colorado’s school districts is provided by the Public School Finance Act of 1994.
The state legislation provided $5.2 billion in funding for the 2011-12 budget from state taxes.
Garcia said the amount of state funding a district receives varies, depending on property tax. He believes difficulties for schools arise because the student population changes every year. He believes students with high needs deserve more attention and funding than they are getting.
“It’s clear that in Colorado we are not being as successful as we’d like to be with all students,” he said.
He said another focus state funding of education in the future will have to be making higher education more affordable.
“If we’re successful getting more kids prepared for higher education, we need to have it available for them,” he said.