Swanson Pushes for Equitable Funding
“The state funding formula for education is not working for everyone!”
That was the message from Superintendent Pam Swanson on Friday as she hosted a meeting of the “Opportunity Coalition” at Westminster High School.
The coalition is made up of school districts from across the state who have either high concentrations of students living in poverty or rural districts that don’t have the resources to adequately educate their children. A membership list of the coalition can be found below.
Swanson was a founding member of the group that speaks as a united voice at the Colorado Legislature in an effort to provide more funding for “at risk” students.
Lawmakers are currently working on this year’s School Finance Act and trying to figure out how to divide up education dollars in Colorado.
The current formula provides school district’s with a set amount of money for each student and then factors in a series of complex adjustments based on criteria like poverty, school district enrollment and the cost of living in a community. Critics say the formula is outdated and doesn’t fairly allocate already scarce resources.
For years, lawmakers have talked about changing the formula, but so far it hasn’t happened.
There does appear to be growing support for a change in formula particularly from leaders of wealthier school districts who are now struggling to manage “pockets of poverty” in their communities.
Experts have long concluded that it costs more money per student to effectively teach students in a classroom with a high concentration of poverty versus poor students in a classroom with wealthier peers. The current formula does not take that factor into account.
Dramatic changes to the formula won’t happen this year, but Governor John Hickenlooper’s Education Policy Advisor, Evy Valencia, who attended the meeting, said the Governor is well aware of the calls for change.
“It’s a big deal that you are having this discussion,” said Valencia.
Opportunity Coalition Members:
- Pamela Swanson, Westminster Public Schools
- Michael Clough, Sheridan School District
- Charlotte Ciancio, Mapleton
- Don Snowberger, Durango
- Wendy Rubin, Englewood
- Kermit Snyder, Rocky Ford
- Nikki Johnson, Campo
- Kate Bartlett, Lake County School District (Chief Financial Officer)
- Wendy Wyman, Lake County School District
- Elsie Goines, Las Animas School District
- Randy Holmes, Holly School District
- Scott Mader, Trinidad School District
Posted April 11, 2016