District 50 Adds Voice to State Budget Debate
Superintendent Pam Swanson and Board of Education Treasurer Ryan McCoy told education leaders that while state funding needs to be increased, District 50 is beating the odds and still improving in spite of a money crunch.
The two were invited to participate in a panel discussion before the Colorado Association of School Board (CASB) earlier this month. The discussion, “School Finance 2016: A Formula Not Funded a Promise Not Kept,” explored the economic challenges facing school districts. Several years ago the state legislature began using the so called negative factor which allows the state to provide less funding for schools than promised with the passage of Amendment 23.
Swanson told the room, filled with Board of Education members from across Colorado, that District 50 will receive about $11 million less this year because of the negative factor. Still, she said, the work goes on. “We have never made any excuses because of the lack of money,” said Swanson. “We continue to make great progress because of the hard work of our staff.”
McCoy echoed the sentiment. He cited the Board’s commitment to a Competency Based System and continued focus on performing arts and career technical education (CTE) programs. He also spoke with pride about the District’s summer food program which privides healthy meals to students when they are not in school.
While Swanson and McCoy spoke about doing more with less, both leaders acknowledged that the state must increase education funding in Colorado and address the inequities within the state funding formula. Colorado’s finance structure is complicated by amendments to the Colorado constitution concerning tax increases and the use of property taxes.
While frustrated by the lack of funding from the state, McCoy acknowledged that lawmaker’s hands are somewhat tied noting board members and legislators have similar dilemmas. “We have to decide what to cut, not how do we innovate and invest.”
Still McCoy said there is some room for optimism. “We are starting to change the conversation,” he said.
Posted October 27th, 2015