There is no more important or emotional issue in education and education reform at present than how schools are funded and at what amount. In Colorado, we spend near the bottom of all 50 states on our K-12 system and students. This is mirrored in Colorado’s spending at the post-secondary level, which raises the question that Colorado and its courts, legislature and citizens are asking: how much money does it take to educate our children?
The answer to that fundamental question must be based on the outcomes of the K-12 and higher education systems, i.e. how do we get students to graduate ready to enter the workforce. The spending question is perhaps more subtle and critical and the one that was wrestled with through the work of the School Finance Partnership. Tony Lewis took part in those conversations as a member of the partnership’s steering committee. The group released its final recommendations in August 2012. Click here to download the report.
Colorado’s school finance system involves layers upon layers of policy that have developed over time, often leading to incongruent and difficult mandates and rules. The system that delegates how much money goes to schools and how it is distributed and spent is the key lever for the improvement of schools and education. The distribution of state and local funds for education has to improve before we can address how much money is needed.
Recommendations for policy change include:
- Transparency; there should be transparency throughout the system on how money is spent, from school level expenditures, through the district and up to the state.
- Accountability; money should follow the student to the school where he/she is being educated.
- Efficiency; changes should be made to the student count date to reflect the movement of funding between schools and districts due to student mobility and attendance/completion.