With more education dollars, legislators ponder extra for higher-needs students – Sentinel Colorado

DENVER | Expecting a cash infusion after the Colorado Supreme Court gave its blessing to raising local school district taxes, lawmakers are proposing major changes to how the state spends its education dollars.

House Bill 1325 would expand the definition of children living in poverty and qualifying for additional funding and, for the first time, give districts more money for every English language learner enrolled in their schools.

School districts like Aurora Public Schools and even Cherry Creek schools would benefit greatly from such a change. APS is home to a large number of English language learners and a growing number of a families speak a language other than English at home in Cherry Creek schools, officials say.

The bill also proposes a matching fund to help districts that have struggled to pass special property tax increases for schools, known as mill levy overrides. By offering state dollars, proponents hope to create an incentive for voters in districts with low property wealth and high tax rates to put more local money into the pot.

Lastly, it proposes a new special committee on school finance — a previous committee met for three years without producing legislation — to work on more changes.

The legislature has about two weeks left in the session and a long backlog of major bills. The bill is set for its first hearing in the House Education Committee this week. A fiscal analysis that would show the impact on individual districts had not been completed as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Lawmakers for years