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CEA weighs in on school finance bill with Capitol testimony

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CEA weighs in on school finance bill with Capitol testimony

Executive Director Tony Salazar tells lawmakers the bill invests in critical areas of need, but has to help students in every district

 

DENVER – The Colorado Education Association reaffirmed its commitment to collaborate with lawmakers on the Future School Finance Act (Senate Bill 13-213) in Senate testimony yesterday as Colorado moves to replace its antiquated methods for funding public schools.

“CEA has worked in collaboration through the School Finance Partnership to craft a new school finance act that will fund our vision for Colorado’s public schools. We’re very appreciative that Sen. Michael Johnston, Sen. Rollie Heath and others have taken up the challenge with us to improve public education in a dramatic way so that every student thrives in the state,” said CEA Executive Director Tony Salazar before the Senate Education Committee.

“We are currently examining how this bill will impact the growth and achievement of our students across the state, and the vitality of the education profession for our 38,000 members,” Salazar continued. “We agree with much of the premise and components of the bill, but we still have room for improvement in this bill to achieve the game-changing legislation we need to properly address Colorado’s gaping holes in education funding.”

Salazar said CEA is supportive of many parts of the bill, such as provisions to increase funding for at-risk preschool children, to make full-day kindergarten a reality for every child, and to improve opportunities for special education students, English language learners and gifted and talented students. But he reminded lawmakers that all school districts were significantly damaged by funding cuts over the last five years.

“Our schools have endured painful, unpopular budget cuts of more than $1 billion while educating a growing student population. Class sizes for students have increased, fees for parents have increased, and demands on our educators have increased at the same time many teaching positions, support services and course offerings have gone away,” said Salazar. “This bill needs to take into account the widespread damage that has occurred, and create a school finance system that works for every student, and supports the teachers and education support professionals who make a positive difference in the lives of every student.”

Calling Senate Bill 213 "the most important bill of the session," Salazar said legislation of this magnitude should not be rushed, but analyzed and studied until the school community is comfortable with the numbers and the language of the bill.

"It's not just a policy debate for us, because we will live through the human implications of the bill's provisions every single day. We need to get this bill right," Salazar concluded.

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