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Peter MarcusMay 1, 20174min476

Democrats and the state’s largest teachers’ union say Republicans have hijacked a critical school funding measure in the name of charter schools.

The annual School Finance Act, which lawmakers are constitutionally obligated to pass each year, was amended on Thursday to include equitable funding for charter schools.

Republicans, led by Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs, have been pushing the effort since the start of the legislative session, hoping to require districts to distribute revenue from local property taxes equally to charters on a per-pupil basis.

A standalone bill on the subject, Senate Bill 61, passed the Senate, but it has not yet been introduced in the House. Political observers say the strong-arm tactic to attempt to address the issue through the School Finance Act is meant to apply political pressure.

“I do want to continue to pressure and keep the narrative up,” Hill said, as he introduced the amendment, according to a report by Chalkbeat Colorado.

Democrats appeared appalled that Hill would use a $6.5 billion annual K-12 education funding plan to advance a side issue on charter school funding. The effort would address revenue from additional property taxes that is used to pay for operations.

“To pick up Senate Bill 61, and slip it into the School Finance Act, is troubling and offensive to me,” said Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora. “When we look at mill levy overrides, that’s not state money. That’s local money. What was, and still is, the point of Senate Bill 61 is to take local control away from schools.

“The School Finance Act is not the place to send messages and play political games. I am extraordinarily disappointed in my colleagues for jeopardizing such an important bill for the education funding of our Colorado children.”

Republicans, however, boasted that even with the charter school funding, the legislation serves to fund public education. The measure would raise per-pupil funding by $179.

“Providing our kids and classrooms with fair and equitable funding they need to not only succeed, but thrive, should not be a partisan issue,” Hill said. “We have to work together to make sure we’re putting our kids first.

“Senate Republicans are standing up for our students, ensuring our schools have all the resources they need, and prioritizing the brightest possible version of our future; why aren’t Democrats?”

The Colorado Education Association expressed frustration.

“The Senate is playing shell games in the School Finance Act to move money from one type of school to another instead of tackling the real funding dilemma all schools face,” said Kerrie Dallman, president of the teachers’ union. “Don’t play politics with how schools are funded.”


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Susan MeekSusan MeekJune 30, 20166min325

Coloradans, start your research. With 24 ballot proposals approved for petition circulation, your signature is highly desired and you are the deciders as to which ones reach the ballot. These initiatives have a direct impact on our quality of life in Colorado and it’s our responsibility to be informed, engaged and part of this process. If we aren’t engaged, we really can’t complain about the outcome, can we?


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Terry JonesTerry JonesMay 17, 20166min437

Free burritos, free tacos and margaritas and discounted fried chicken sandwiches. These aren’t the happy hour specials at the local bar, but tokens of appreciation awarded to educators during Teacher Appreciation week. I understand the good intentions — and I love a good margarita — but does our society make these same offers to physicians, engineers or architects? Of course not, because this would be perceived as condescending to those professions. As education professionals, we deserve the same public accord as other august professions.


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Nora FloodNora FloodMay 6, 20166min310

Charter schools have been part of Colorado’s public school family for over 20 years and currently serve over 108,000 kids in 226 schools across the state. If combined, charters would represent the largest school district in Colorado. Despite this enormous popularity and success, charter public school students remain at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the resources committed to their education. The average charter school student in Colorado still only receives 80 cents on the dollar compared with his or her traditional public school peer, a disparity that is fundamentally wrong and that two bills currently before the state Legislature — Senate bills 187 and 188 — seek to address.


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanMay 3, 20164min265

Thousands of Colorado students opted out of the state’s Colorado Measure of Academic Success tests over the last couple of weeks, with at least one Douglas County high school at 800 students who took a pass, according to a well-placed source. High school CMAS/PARCC tests are only for ninth graders. During testing weeks, school work slows down or stops. High school students get days off when their grades aren’t being tested.