Last week more than 100 Colorado school district superintendents stood together to remind lawmakers of their support for Gov. Hickenlooper's proposal for an additional $200 million in funding for public schools.
The superintendents also are asking for an additional $70 million. Of that sum, $50 million would be distributed to districts for children living in poverty and $20 million would go to "small rural" school districts as defined by the Rural Education Council.
"During the last session, parents' voices were critical in convincing lawmakers to begin to pay back a small part of the more than $1 billion withheld from schools despite the voter-approved constitutional Amendment 23," Cherry Creek Superintendent Harry Bull said.
Last year, after state superintendents and parents joined together, legislators agreed to pay down $110 million of the more than $1 billion in funds withheld during the recession. But in the current year's budget, the Cherry Creek School District remains short by more than $54.6 million of funds constitutionally mandated by the voter-approved Amendment 23.
"Because of the community's willingness to support our bond and budget elections in past years, we have been able to protect class size, retain effective classroom teachers, and keep programs, activities and athletics to provide a quality education to our children." Bull said.
"But each year brings a new challenge to secure sufficient funding to just maintain our current level of services and manage new mandates for technology and accountability," he said. "We need legislators to support us in securing the resources needed to provide the opportunity to ensure that all children in Colorado have the opportunity to become successful in post-secondary education and work."
As legislators get closer to considering funding for the 2015-2016 school year, the superintendents want to remind them of the letter to Joint Budget Committee signed by 174 of the states 178 superintendents sent in November.
In the letter, the superintendents also called for a long-term solution to the perennial issue of school finance. In their statement the superintendents said:
"While we hold that the short-term steps outlined above will provide some necessary relief for distressed Colorado schools, the more chronic problem of a structurally flawed system of financing Colorado schools still exists," superintendents wrote.
"During the last session, parents' voices were critical in convincing lawmakers to begin to pay back a small part of the more than $1 billion withheld from schools despite the voter-approved constitutional Amendment 23." ~ Dr. Harry Bull