As Lawmakers Debate K12 Funding, School Districts Across Colorado Fight to Remind them Kids Matter Too

School Leaders to Lawmakers: One-Time Funding Doesn’t Make up for Years of Cuts

Denver, CO – The Colorado State legislature is expected to make budgetary decisions in the coming weeks that will impact K12 public education for years to come. While elected officials have touted one-time funding and paying off the budget stabilization factor, it doesn’t make up for decades of severe underfunding. Colorado School districts came together to form the “Kids Matter Too” campaign last month to urge state lawmakers to fully fund K12 public education and stop shortchanging Colorado kids.  

“Now, as ever, our schools continue to face significant challenges in securing the necessary resources to provide the best possible education for our students,” said Superintendent of Harrison School District Wendy Birhanzel. “It is our goal to provide a high-quality education to every student in our district, but we cannot do so without adequate funding and the pandemic has only made the situation more dire. We are facing a teacher shortage and a youth mental health crisis, all while families are struggling with economic stressors and the workforce landscape continues to shift. Lawmakers can’t keep cutting into the K12 budget because kids matter too.”

Colorado schools face more than a $10 billion budgetary shortfall that has accumulated over more than a decade. The combination of TABOR, the fluctuation of property taxes, and a lack of dedicated investment in K12 public schools makes it difficult to provide resources to help meet the challenges Colorado kids are facing. This includes a chronic teacher shortage and the inability to attract and retain the best and brightest, increasing mental health needs for students, and a lack of funding for STEAM and career and technical education to prepare youth for the workforce. 

Fortunately, the majority of Coloradans support increasing funding for K12 public education so we can invest in future generations. According to last year’s Colorado Public Education Survey, nearly 50% of Colorado voters don’t think that Colorado schools have the financial resources they need, 64% approve of re-allocating tax revenue to public education, and 63% of Colorado voters support a proposal that would increase K12 funding.

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