Skip to main content
Colorado General AssemblyToggle Main Menu
Agency NameToggle Agency Menu

I_SFinance_2021A 08/24/2021 09:06:17 AM Committee Summary

PUBLIC
STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
INTERIM COMMITTEE  LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE
Date 08/24/2021
Attendance
Coleman X
Geitner E
Herod X
Larson X
Lundeen X
Zenzinger X
Kirkmeyer X
McCluskie X
Time 09:06:17 AM to 03:30:35 PM
Place SCR 357
This Meeting was called to order by McCluskie
This Report was prepared by Annie Kitch
Hearing Items Action Taken
Opening Remarks Committee Discussion Only
Overview of School Finance in Colorado Committee Discussion Only
Update on Federal COVID-19 Funding Committee Discussion Only
At-Risk Students and Funding Committee Discussion Only
Discussion of Poverty Study Proposals Committee Discussion Only
Logistics and Next Steps Committee Discussion Only

Opening Remarks - Committee Discussion Only


09:06:38 AM  
Representative McCluskie
gave opening remarks, welcomed new members, and reviewed the agenda. Committee
members also made opening comments and discussed their goals for the committee.
Committee discussion ensued.



Overview of School Finance in Colorado - Committee Discussion Only


09:22:20 AM  
Brita Darling and
Julie Pelegrin, Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), and Marc Carey,
Legislative Council Staff (LCS), introduced themselves and began their
presentation regarding the school funding formula. The presentation was
sent to members of the committee and can be accessed here:
http://leg.colorado.gov/content/isfinance2021acommdocs


 
09:22:21 AM  
Ms. Darling reviewed
the formula for calculating funding which is based on factors such as school
district characteristics, including statewide base funding, personnel costs,
cost of living, nonpersonnel costs, and the size of the district. The panelists
responded to questions from the committee.    

09:42:29 AM  
Ms. Darling continued
her presentation and described funding based on student characteristics.
Committee members discussed previous efforts to shape the School Finance
Funding Formula.



Brita Darling continued her presentation by describing additional aspects
of the funding formula such as the funded per pupil count, district total
program, and the budget stabilization factor (BSF). Ms. Darling explained
that the BSF is a percentage reduction in each school district's total
program funding that is calculated after the base per-pupil funding amount
is increased and other district-specific adjustments are calculated.

Ms. Darling
then provided a summary of the 2021-22 school finance formula funding.
 
09:57:11 AM  
Dr. Carey continued
the presentation by explaining that school funding primarily comes from
state and local shares, which equaled approximately $8.0 billion in FY
21-22. He shared that state and local shares can vary significantly by
district and funding can look difference once the BSF is applied. Dr. Carey
explained that  revenue sources can include mill levy overrides, binding,
fundraising, grants, categorical funding from the state, state funds from
sources such as the READ Act, and federal revenue.  Dr. Carey responded
to questions from the committee regarding state and local funding sources,
mill levies, and forms of revenue.

09:58:12 AM  
Dr. Carey explained
that local shares have generally decreased over time, as the state share
has increased in an attempt to offset those decreases because of three
constitutional factors: the passage of the Gallagher Amendment in 1982;
the passage of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) in 1992, and the passage
of Amendment 23 in 2000. Both the Gallagher Amendment and TABOR have put
downward pressure on local property tax revenue. The passage of Amendment
23 has driven increases in total program funding based on inflation and
enrollment growth.  
10:21:13 AM  
Julie Pelgrin continued
the presentation by explaining that after the passage of Tabor in 1994
,
most districts
waived the TABOR revenue limit, but still reduced their mill levies. In
2007, the General Assembly amended statute to clairfy that districts only
needed to reduce their mill levies to stay within the TABOR revenue limit
if they were subject to the limit. The General Assemly also amended statute
to cap mill levies at 27 mills. House Bill 20-1418 and House Bill 21-1164
then reset the mill levies for districts subject and not subject to the
TABOR limit.



The presenters responded to questions from the committee regarding mill
levy overrides, provisions in HB 20-1418 and HB 21-1164, and mill levy
resets that may take place without voter approval.



Update on Federal COVID-19 Funding - Committee Discussion Only


10:38:38 AM  
Kate Bartlett, Colorado
Department of Education (CDE), discussed federal funding that Colorado
received during the COVID-19 pandemic. A large amount of funding came from
 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds with
the intention of addressing the impact that COVID-19 has had on education.
ESSER funds were established as three different funding streams: ESSER
1, designated under the CARES Act for the purpose of  crisis response;
ESSER II, established under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental
Appropriations Act for resuming and sustaining in-person instruction; and
ESSER III, established under the American Rescue Plan Act for the purpose
of aiding in recovery.



Ms. Bartlett also shared information on additional federal funds for education
such as the Governor's Emergency Education Relief fund, Coronavirus Relief
Funds for education, and emergency assistance for non-public schools. She
shared that CDE is actively working to ensure that schools receive as much
information and opportunity as possible to receive these funds.  



Ms. Bartlett responded to questions from the committee regarding federal
funds and compensatory services.




Ms Bartlett's presentation was sent to members of the committee and can
be accessed here:
http://leg.colorado.gov/content/isfinance2021acommdocs
 
10:57:40 AM  
Kate Barlett shared
that ESSER allocations are calculated using the Title I formula; however,
these funds may be used for any allowable activities under ESSER funding
guidelines and are not subject to Title I requirements.Coronavirus Relief
Funds were distributed on a per-pupil basis that incorporated factors from
the School Finance Formula.



Ms. Bartlett and Jennifer Okes, also with CDE, answered questions from
the committee regarding the distribution of Coronavirus Relief Funds, federal
government audits around funding uses, and CDE's efforts to review applications
for funding to ensure that they're consistent with the allowable uses listed
in the funding guidelines.
11:08:18 AM  
Kate Bartlett continued
her presentation by explaining the ten largest total ESSER & Coronavirus
Relief Fund allocations. She also described the allowable and common uses
of district ESSER funding. Ms. Bartlett responded to questions from the
committee regarding ESSER applications, funding distribution, and spending.




Ms. Bartlett provided an overview on how the state broke down the ESSER
funds that have been set aside. Ms. Okes explained the methods that CDE
took to distribute funding to the districts.
11:24:18 AM  
Ms. Bartlett responded
to questions from the committee regarding student enrollment for fall 2021
in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.



At-Risk Students and Funding - Committee Discussion Only


11:26:04 AM  
The committee recessed.
01:19:34 PM  
The committee reconvened.
01:22:05 PM  
Riley Kitts and Stephanie
Perez-Carrillo, Colorado Children's Campaign (CCC), shared that the at-risk
student factor, which increases with the number of at-risk students, is
currently at $495 million. Mr. Kitts also explained how CCC used data related
to free and reduced lunch (FRL) enrollment to measure poverty. He stated
that FRL is not the most accurate proxy to identify student need because
it only counts for income status;  is a binary measure; may hinder
participation in other programs; and is not collected in a centralized
location.  



Mr. Kitts and Ms. Perez-Carrillo responded to questions from the committee
regarding other data that could possibly be used to identify at-risk students.
   
01:34:32 PM  
Ms. Perez-Carrillo
continued the presentation by sharing that FRL data is often decentralized
because it is collected at the district level. She shared that districts
do all that they can to collect the data, but there are technological and
resource limitations. Ms. Perez-Carillo responded to questions from the
committee regarding school staff and parents' awareness of the FRL program.
Committee discussion ensued.




Mr. Kitts continued the presentation by discussing options that members
should consider to improve data collection methods such as examinging IT
systems.
01:45:43 PM  
Michael Griffith,
Learning Policy Institute, presented on methods to identify at-risk students
such as collecting census, foster care, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP) data. He also discussed why many states use FRL as a proxy
to measure poverty, as it's a good marker for school status as a whole,
but also noted how it often does not account for an individual student's
situation. Mr. Griffith shared how Massachusetts and Texas successfully
use other measures to identify at-risk students.



Mr. Griffith responded to questions from the committee regarding FRL data.
 
02:12:17 PM  
Dr. Wendy Birhanzel,
Superintendent, Harrison County School District, explained that her district
is in dire need of additional resources that the school funding formula
is not meeting. She urged the committee to look at what other states are
doing successfully to meet student need as a model for Colorado.



Superintendent Birhanzel responded to questions from the committee pertaining
to other criteria used to determine at-risk student status.  

02:20:35 PM  
George Welsh, Superintendent,
Canon City School District, provided a background on his district and shared
that the district is at a 55% poverty level; however, it may be higher
because high school students often don't submit their FRL forms. He also
encouraged the committee to look at other states' models to identify at-risk
students. In addition, he suggested that the worth of each mill levy within
each district should be re-examined.



Mr. Welsh and Ms. Birhanzel responded to questions from the committee regarding
the current at-risk student measure and their experience working with  different
demographics within their districts. Committee discussion ensued.  



Discussion of Poverty Study Proposals - Committee Discussion Only


02:54:55 PM  
Anna Gerstle, LCS,
provided an overview of the three responses that the committee received
for a request for proposal to conduct a poverty study on school districts
in Colorado. The committee discussed the vendor proposals.



The vendors responded to questions from the committee regarding their approach
to factoring in the many systems that come into play when measuring poverty
across districts.  



Logistics and Next Steps - Committee Discussion Only


03:27:36 PM  
Ms. Gerstle shared
that the Committe will meet again on September 17, October 19, November
5, and January 10. The committee will announce bill draft requests during
the November 5 meeting and vote on the drafts during the January 10 meeting.




Representative McCluskie shared possible topics for discussion at future
meetings.  


03:30:35 PM   The committee adjourned.






COVID-19 Resources
NORTH ENTRANCE IS CURRENTLY CLOSED.  TO ENTER THE CAPITOL, USE THE SOUTH ENTRANCE, UNDER THE STAIRS, AT 14th AVENUE AND SHERMAN STREET.