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Public School Finance

Concerning the financing of public schools, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.
2021 Regular Session
Education & School Finance (Pre & K-12)
Bill Summary

The act makes changes to the "Public school finance act of 1994" (school funding formula) increasing the statewide base per pupil funding for the 2021-22 budget year by $141.67 to account for inflation of 2% for a new statewide base per pupil funding amount of $7,225.28, and sets the minimum statewide district total program funding amount for the 2021-22 budget year and requires the dollar amount of the budget stabilization factor to remain the same for the 2022-23 budget year.

The act authorizes the state board of education (state board) to take action against an educator license, certificate, endorsement, or authorization if the educator is convicted of an offense under the laws of another state, the United States, or any territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, the elements of which are substantially similar to a felony drug offense described in part 4 of article 18 of title 18, Colorado Revised Statutes.

The act extends to 18 months the length of the accreditation contract entered into between the state board and each school district board of education (local school board) and the state charter school institute for the 2021-22 school year.

The act extend by one month the deadline for a local school board to certify to the state board mileage for reimbursement from the public school transportation fund and for the state board to certify to the state treasurer the amount of reimbursements from the public school transportation fund.

The act changes the period of time in which the department of education (department) may establish an alternative pupil count day to within 45 school days after the first school day.

The act allows local education providers to carry forward more than 15% of the per-pupil intervention money received pursuant to the "Colorado READ Act" for the 2020-21 budget year for use in the 2021-22 budget year.

The act adjusts the amount of additional funding authorized in Senate Bill 21-053 that is available to school districts that fully fund total program with local revenue.

The act authorizes a school district that operated a district preschool program pursuant to the "Colorado Preschool Program Act" in the 2019-20 school year with a waiver to serve children under 3 years of age to continue in subsequent school years to use the same number of preschool positions to serve children under 3 years of age who have multiple significant family risk factors.

The act extends the budget deadlines for the 2021-22 budget year for school districts and local college districts.

The act makes permanent statutory provisions that allow school district charter schools that convert to institute charter schools or institute charter schools that convert to school district charter schools to continue to receive funding for at-risk students using the funding formulas that applied to the charter schools prior to the conversion.

For the 2021-22 school year, the act prohibits a local school board from reviewing or making revisions to an existing innovation school plan, innovation school zone, or a public school included in an innovation school zone, pursuant to the innovation school and zone review and revision process. Further, the local school board shall not make any revisions to an existing innovation school or innovation school zone plan that have not been approved before the effective date of this act.

The act removes the $10 million annual cap on appropriations for the school counselor corps grant program.

The act requires a board of cooperative services (BOCES) that intends to locate or operate a authorize a full-time BOCES school or an additional location of an existing school that is physically located within the geographic boundaries of a school district that is not a member of the BOCES during the 2021-22 school year to obtain written permission from the school district in which the school will be operated or located. The requirement for written consent does not apply to a BOCES school that is authorized or operating prior to the effective date of the act.
The act requires school districts and institute charter schools to address chronic absenteeism and disproportionate disciplinary practices in order to provide support to students who are identified as at risk of chronic absenteeism and disciplinary actions, including classroom removal, suspension, and expulsion. The act amends the expelled and at-risk student services grant program to focus on services for students identified as at risk of dropping out of school due to chronic absenteeism and disciplinary actions.

The act amends the Colorado imagination library program to align the public relations campaign with "Colorado READ Act" campaigns and requires the contractor administering the program to provide a high-quality independent evaluation of the impact of the program on child and family outcomes and to establish a distressed affiliate fund for county-based affiliate programs. The act establishes the intent of the general assembly to provide full funding for free books for eligible children by 2026. The act amends the definition of "local public body" in the public open meetings statute to refer to school districts, which are the local public bodies, rather than school boards.
The act declares that the use of federal funding under the "American Rescue Plan Act of 2021" to provide programs, services, and other assistance to populations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency to mitigate the impacts of the public health emergency through the concurrent enrollment and innovation grant program and the career development success program are allowable uses of the federal funding.

The act declares the general assembly's intention in making changes to the school finance formula commencing with the 2021-22 budget year, as follows:

  • Modifies at-risk funding by adding pupils who are eligible for reduced-price lunch under the federal school lunch program, in addition to the free-lunch pupils in the existing definition, and removes the subset of English language learners who are currently included in the at-risk pupil count from the definition of "at-risk pupils";
  • Adds a new English language learner funding factor to the school finance formula for all English language learners included in the prior year's pupil enrollment. The factor is 8% of per pupil funding multiplied by the English language learner enrollment. as defined in the act.
  • Makes corresponding changes to the calculation of district total program funding, minimum per pupil funding, and the minimum per pupil funding base to reflect the school finance formula changes relating to English language learner factor funding; and
  • Makes a corresponding change to the statutory district total program amount to reflect the changes to the at-risk funding factor and the addition of the English language learner funding factor.

The act authorizes the use of appropriations for the accelerating students through concurrent enrollment (ASCENT) program for the 2021-22 budget year.
The act removes the $27 million appropriation in the 2021 long bill from the state education fund to the English language learners professional development and student support program.

The act appropriates:

  • $505,743,696 to the department from the general fund for the state share of districts' total program funding;
  • $400,000 from the state public school fund for school finance audit payments;
  • $2,000,000 from the state education fund for the school counselor corps grant program;
  • $2,200,444 from the general fund to the department to restore funding to the following grant programs that had appropriations reduced or eliminated for the 2020-21 fiscal year:
  • $800,000 and 0.6 FTE for the ninth grade success program;
  • $375,807 for the school leadership program;
  • $280,730 for the accelerated college opportunity exam fee grant program;
  • $250,000 and 0.3 FTE for the John W. Buckner automatic enrollment in advanced placement courses grant program; and
  • $493,907 and 0.4 FTE for the local accountability systems grant program.
  • $2,500,000 from the marijuana cash tax fund and 1.0 FTE for the K-5 social and emotional health pilot program;
  • $3,000,000 from the marijuana cash tax fund for the behavioral health care professional matching grant program;
  • $2,000,000 for mill levy equalization for institute charter schools;
  • $1,750,000 to the concurrent enrollment expansion and innovation grant program and $1,750,000 for the career development success program from federal money in the workers, employers, and workforce centers cash fund; and
  • $410,221 to the department from the general fund for the Colorado imagination library program.
    (Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details