|"There is no 'one size fits all' solution for our students. It would be irresponsible for the Legislature to now tie our hands and mandate how restored funding must be spent."|
February 28, 2014
Dear Senator Linda Newell, Senator David Balmer, Senator Nancy Todd, Senator Morgan Carrol, Senator Pat Steadman, Representative Daniel Kagan, Representative Paul Rosenthal, Representative Sue Ryden, Representative Spencer Swalm, Representative Kathleen Conti, Representative John Buckner, Representative Jovan Melton, Representative Rhonda Fields, and Representative Kevin Priola:
We are writing to express our unified support for the school finance proposals put forward by Colorado school superintendents in their recent letter to Governor Hickenlooper and members of the General Assembly.
As you are aware, since 2009 the General Assembly has systematically reduced funding for Colorado's public education programs and services by choosing not to fully fund education as required under Amendment 23. These cuts are causing irreparable harm to children in our districts and across the state.
It's important to remember that during these years of ongoing budget cuts, the Legislature did not offer solutions regarding how or where cuts should be made. In fact, additional unfunded legislation was passed each year, without regard for the current financial picture.
Every school district in Colorado has its own plan to cope with the state's unmet funding obligation. The school districts of Arapahoe County representing Aurora, Byers, Cherry Creek, Deer Trail, Englewood, and Littleton each have students with varying needs and instructional priorities. There is no "one size fits all" solution for our students. It would be irresponsible for the Legislature to now tie our hands and mandate how restored funding must be spent.
As education professionals in your legislative district, we urge you to support the proposed restoration of school funding with $275 million from the State Education Fund plus the additional K-12 funds proposed by Governor Hickenlooper for 2014-2015. This would be an important first step in reducing the negative factor. The $275 million is already constitutionally earmarked for local school districts and, because locally elected school boards in conjunction with parents, teachers and administrators know best how to prioritize spending on programs, the money should be allocated without new mandates and expectations. A portion of the $275 million allocation should be directed to students with significant risks of not making adequate educational progress. The total amount of money directed to students at risk and the specific allocation process should be determined through a welcomed dialog among superintendents, lawmakers, and others.
Allowing Boards of education to allocate funding in the local communities will serve all students' needs, help narrow achievement gaps, and address mental health, emotional, physical and learning needs of all students. School districts must be given flexibility to put restored funding where their students need it the most based on their community's local values.
We look forward to an opportunity to provide you with additional detailed information about the financial picture in each of our school districts and how unrestricted restored funding will help us meet our student's needs.
Aurora Public Schools
Julie Marie Shepherd, Board of Education President
Rico Munn, Superintendent
Amy Nichols, Aurora Education Association President
Byers Public Schools
Tom Thompson III, Board of Education President
Tom Turrell, Superintendent
Cherry Creek Public Schools
Jim O'Brien, Board of Education President
Harry Bull, Superintendent
Sheryl Cunningham, Cherry Creek Education Association President
Deer Trail Public Schools
John Price, Board of Education President
Robin Purdy, Superintendent
Englewood Public Schools
Duane Tucker, Board of Education President
Brian Ewert, Superintendent
Libby Bucher, Englewood Educators
Littleton Public Schools
Lucie Stanish, Board of Education President
Scott Murphy, Superintendent