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2014 Funding for the Cherry Creek Schools


“We ask that you call your state legislators and tell them that your neighborhood schools belong to you. Let them know that we, and they, have a moral obligation to provide adequate resources so that each child has access to the best possible educational opportunities we can provide.”

~ Superintendent Dr. Harry Bull


 Colorado K-12 Funding vs. National Average


The Cherry Creek School Board on Monday, March 10, 2014 unanimously approved a resolution calling on the Colorado Legislature and Governor to "immediately eliminate the negative factor cuts in K-12 education funding" and calling for an end to unfunded mandates.

Resolution #038-14 Approval of Legislative Measures to Eliminate the Negative Factor

Funding Cuts

Date: March 10, 2014

To: Board of Education

From: Superintendent, General Legal Counsel, and Chief Financial Officer


The following resolution was prepared at the request of the Board of Education.

Pertinent Facts:

WHEREAS, to ensure that every student in Colorado has the same educational opportunities, Colorado's school finance formula since 1994 has included both a base amount of per pupil funding and an additional amount to account for unique local conditions and to equalize total per pupil funding across school districts.

WHEREAS, the factors funded through Colorado's school finance formula address significant variables, including district size, personnel costs, cost of living, and the number of at-risk students in a district.

WHEREAS, starting in fiscal year 2010-2011, the legislature added a new "negative factor" to make across-the-board cuts to education spending. The negative factor applies the same percentage cut to all districts, including the Cherry Creek School District.

WHEREAS, in 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 23, which was designed to help Colorado's public school funding catch up to the national average and to keep it at that level. In contravention of this expressed will of Colorado voters, the legislature's implementation of the negative factor leaves Colorado education funding at 42nd in the country, more than $2,500 below the national average in per pupil funding.

WHEREAS, in the 2013-2014 fiscal year alone, the negative factor extracted more than $1 billion from school districts of the state's support for public education.

WHEREAS, without the implementation of the negative factor, the School Finance formula would have provided Cherry Creek School District No. 5 with an additional $47,379,814 in the

2011-2012 school year, an additional $61,966,641 in the 2012-2013 school year, and with an additional $61,432,260 in the 2013-2014 school year. As a result of these state cuts through the negative factor and other factors, from the time period of 2008 to 2012, the School Board for Cherry Creek School District has had to do the following:

• Ask the Cherry Creek School District taxpayers for a $25 million property tax increase in November of 2012 to meet District budgetary shortfalls.

• Reduce 148 instructional positions from 2008 to 2012. Said reductions resulted in increased class sizes and reduced one-on-one instructional opportunities.

• Modify the teacher compensation schedule, resulting in a budget reduction of $2.5 million.

• Eliminate 104 educational support positions, including transportation staff, thereby increasing walking distances for students.

• Reduce curriculum instruction supply costs by $1.1 million.

WHEREAS, while the legislature has reduced school funding through the implementation of the negative factor, the legislature has passed multiple and significant educational reforms without corresponding funding to support these reform efforts ("unfunded mandates"). These unfunded mandates include, but are not limited to the Preschool to Postsecondary Education Alignment Act (CAP4K)(Senate Bill 08-212), the Education Accountability Act of 2009 (Senate Bill -09-163), the Educator Effectiveness Law (Senate Bill 10-191), and the Colorado READ Act (House Bill 12-1238). Thus, these unfunded mandates impose financial burdens on school districts already impacted by reduced funding through the negative factor cuts.

WHEREAS, the Cherry Creek School District Board of Education with Resolution #213-00, Approval of Initiated Constitutional Amendment 23 Providing Additional K-21 Funding, (September 11, 2000) advocated for the passage of Amendment 23.

WHEREAS, since state revenues are increasing and the legislature has discussed the replenishing of cash funds, the legislature must make it a priority to return to a sensible and constitutional system of school finance, consistent with the mandate of Amendment 23.

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Board of Education for the Cherry Creek School District hereby calls for the Colorado Legislature and Governor to immediately eliminate the negative factor cuts in K-12 education funding.


Passed unanimously 5-0


 Key Points

  • Between 2008 and 2012, CCSD had to reduce its budget by about 9 percent, or $39.7 million. This resulted in program cuts, deferral of maintenance, and the loss of about 340 full-time positions.
  • Currently, the legislature has access to more than $1 billion in the state's Education Fund. Superintendents from around the state have joined together to ask the legislature to allocate $275 million of recurring funds to public schools, in addition to the governor's proposed increase.
  • CCSD continues to lose $61.4 million in state aid every year due to what's called the "negative factor," the loss of funds intended to provide school districts with extra support for things like infrastructure costs for small districts or high levels of at-risk students.
  • We are asking the legislature to restore the dollars they have failed to provide to schools as required by Amendment 23, and let the Cherry Creek School District decide how use the funds to restore those things they lost during the Great Recession.
  • Locally elected school boards and their chosen leaders are the best experts of what is best for students, not politicians or political special interest groups.

​What is the Negative Factor?

Amendment 23, the citizen’s ballot initiative passed in 2000, mandates that “base” per pupil funding increase each year by the rate of inflation. To determine how much each district will receive under the School Finance Act, that “base” is run through a complex formula that includes variables such as school district size, local cost-of-living, and the number of “at-risk” kids (eligible for free lunch) in a district.

These variables are called “factors” and they substantially increase average per pupil funding received by school districts to reflect the very different costs they experience. The factors exist to address the increased per pupil costs that result when, for instance, a high percentage of pupils are from at-risk populations or when the necessary costs of running a school and hiring staff are divided among a small student population in a rural district.

In 2009, the legislature reinterpreted Amendment 23 to mean that only the base amount was covered by the mandatory increases — not the factors.  Under this interpretation, the legislature could (and did) cut total spending from one year to the next and claim compliance with Amendment 23 — despite voter intent to increase funding.

Starting in 2009, in order to make across-the-board cuts from all districts, the legislature added a new “budget stabilization” or “negative factor” to the School Finance Act formula. In effect, the legislature now decides how much it wants to spend on school finance, and then adjusts the negative factor to meet that funding target.

Source: Great Education Colorado

 More Information

 Legislator's Town Halls

  • First Saturdays , 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. - with Sen. Todd, Sen. Carroll, Rep. Ryden and Rep. Buckner
    Smoky Hill Library, 5430 S. Biscay Circle, Centennial, CO 80015
  • First Mondays,  7-8 a.m. – with Rep. Ryden and Rep. Fields
    Mimi’s Restaurant, 205 S. Abilene St.,  Aurora, CO 80012
  • Second Tuesdays, 6-7 p.m. - with Rep. May and Rep. Fields
    Children’s Hospital , 13123 E. 6th Ave.,  Aurora, CO 80045
  • Third Wednesday,  6:30 – 8:30 p.m. – with Sen. Todd, Sen Newel and Rep. Melton.
    Heather Gardens Clubhouse, 2888 S. Heather Gardens Way, Aurora, CO 80014
  • Third Thursdays, 7 - 8:30 p.m., with Sen. Carroll, Rep. Ryden, Rep. Fields, Rep. Buckner and Rep. Melton
    Community College of Aurora Rotunda
    16000 Centertech Pkwy
    Aurora, CO 80011

​"For our legislators, the inconvenient truth in the constitution is that local school boards are responsible for the budget of local school districts."

~ Cherry Creek School District Board of Education President Jim O'Brien


Copyright © Cherry Creek School District #5, 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 | 303-773-1184
Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

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