Understanding Colorado Public School Funding
Colorado public schools receive funding from a variety of sources. However, most revenues to Colorado's 178 school districts are provided through the Public School Finance Act of 1994 (as amended). In budget year 2016-17, this legislation provided for over $6.3 billion of funding to Colorado school districts via state taxes ($4.1 billion), local specific ownership (vehicle registration) taxes ($159.4 million), and local property taxes ($2.12 billion). Moneys provided via the Public School Finance Act of 1994 are available to each school district to fund the costs of providing public education.
Colorado’s fiscal challenges have a direct impact on our local schools and the opportunities we can provide to our students. Use Mission: Possible to answer frequently asked questions.
How does School District 27J Receive Money?
How do we at School District 27J spend our money?
Colorado Legislative acts that impact school funding:
Enacted in 1992, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) sets limits on amount of revenue that can be collected by the State and local governments at growth plus inflation. If revenue is higher, law requires refunds to taxpayers. The law also imposes a limit on property taxes and requires a vote to increase taxes. This law has limited the amount of money that can go to education, even in a booming economy.
Enacted in 2000, Amendment 23 requires the state to increase yearly funding for education by establishing a minimum increase in the amount of per-pupil funding given to districts by at least the rate of inflation. Amendment 23 also created the State Education Fund with the goal of catching K-12 funding up to where we were in the ‘80s.
The Gallagher Amendment was an amendment to the Colorado Constitution enacted in 1982 concerning property tax. The amendment requires reductions in the residential assessment rate for property tax purposes when increases in home values outpace increases in the value of commercial property. Essentially, it keeps relationships between residential and business tax rates proportional. This created a need for the state to backfill education revenue that was previously funded by local property taxes. Funding was once 2/3rds local but is now 2/3rds state.
School districts do not get a percentage of marijuana sales tax to contribute to district operational costs. Of the tax revenue collected, $40 million is set aside into a statewide grant fund, the BEST program, to be used only for building construction. All 178 school districts in Colorado must apply for funding, with awards typically going to lower funded or rural districts.
The More You Know:
UNDERSTANDING COLORADO SCHOOL FINANCE AND CATEGORICAL PROGRAM FUNDING
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SCHOOL BOND AND MILL LEVY?
COLORADO'S K-12 EDUCATION FUNDING RANKINGS
EFFECT OF GALLAGHER AMENDMENT, TABOR, AMENDMENT 23 AND NEGATIVE FACTOR ON PUBLIC EDUCATION