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Board Legislative Agenda

Jeffco Public Schools appreciates the strong relationships between district leadership and state policymakers. It’s critical that the district and state legislators partner together to meet the needs of K-12 students. In that spirit of collaboration, Jeffco’s leadership and board have a strong interest in ongoing and frequent communication specific to development and introduction of legislation that impacts public education generally, and Jeffco Public Schools specifically. We must engage consistently so that legislation is responsive to the needs of K-12 students and is contextualized within the realities of locally controlled school districts.

Responding to Declining Enrollment

Since March 2021, the Jeffco Board of Education has voted to close 20 schools (elementary schools, K-8 schools, and a middle school) due to declines in the school-age population in the county. Jeffco’s total district membership in its district managed schools has decreased 10 percent since the 2019-2020 school year when Colorado and the nation, as a whole, have both experienced a three percent decrease.

Named a “top-five 5 challenge school district leaders will face in 2024” by the publication Education Week, declining enrollment will continue to impact how and what Jeffco is able to fund in support of student learning and success. It is critically important that the five-year averaging provision (which calculates funding for a district based on average enrollment over five years) built into Colorado’s school funding formula, remains in place.

This provision provided Jeffco, and nearly half of all districts in Colorado experiencing swiftly shifting demographics, a runway to adapt to funding losses and appropriately shift resources to provide thriving experience for students. 

School Funding Efficiency and Effectiveness

The Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education has a strong interest in identifying funding levels that are proven to positively impact a student’s growth and achievement. Instead of assuming we can adequately educate and support students with the amount of funding available to districts, we believe it is necessary to investigate what an effective K-12 education costs in Colorado and to set our expectations to that level.

As public school districts are expected to take on more and more delivery of programs and services to students and their families, it is critical that we collectively understand the costs of doing so, so that we can do it well. We support commissioning an external adequacy study to understand sufficient school funding models and subsequently taking steps to apply those models to a public education context in Colorado.

Financial Priorities

The Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education applauds the governor and the legislature for their collective commitment to eliminate the Budget Stabilization (BS) Factor. However, Jeffco has lost out on over $930 million dollars since the inception of the BS factor, and while we are grateful the state plans to eliminate the BS Factor, our students will not receive a payback on the lost funds from the last 14 years. 

As the legislature considers changes to the school finance formula, the Jeffco Public Schools Board of Education holds the following values:

  • The state has the ability to increase funding for Colorado education services and capital expenses without reducing opportunities for students in Jeffco. We oppose changes to the school finance formula that net less funding and fewer resources for Jeffco students. 
  • Changes to the formula should be phased in over time – a multiple year implementation period. District finances should not be upended in late spring, when our budget is done and legislatively required to be approved by June 
  • We appreciate the buy down of the budget stabilization factor. Jeffco expects to receive our full buy down, without offset from formula changes that reduce benefits and services to our students.  

Grant Programs

The legislature should avoid creating new grant programs; these one-time funding opportunities often create position “cliffs” and use resources that, if allocated to the school finance act, would create predictable and ongoing positions to sustainably support student learning across all districts.

Currently, at least $115 million is awarded through grant programs, funding which may or may not be focused on key priorities for school districts and once divided among them is too small to make a significant difference. The legislature should consider a periodic review of each grant program, its effectiveness, and whether or not to continue as a grant program or as a critical component to the funding formula. Any new grant programs should have defined goals, measurement for effectiveness and evaluation to ensure there is a sunset.

Accountability System Redesign

We believe Colorado can have the premier accountability system in the country, one that is also meaningful to our communities. In order to accomplish this the State’s accountability system must evolve. We advocate that the state of Colorado redesigns the K-12 accountability system so that it:

  • Accurately and comprehensively measures and advances students’ learning and progress.
  • Does not result in bias towards any student demographic.
  • Utilizes timely data that is actionable.
  • Does not require additional standardized testing.
  • Holds school districts, schools, and educators to a high level of expectation
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