House Bill 4-403: Easier Said than Done

By: Julien Beai

As a quick disclaimer before the actual article, I agree with House Bill 4-403’s premise and core idea.   However, in practice and implementation, it would promote a drastic cut in funding and allow for disadvantage to take place.

This bill originally did not make sense to me, so let me try to explain this bill as simplistic as possible without changing definitions or warping the language in the bill.  House Bill 4-403 promotes a revision to the 1994 Public School Finance Act.  The 1994 Public School Act makes funding by per pupil and uses the characteristics of the district (such as property tax, state funding, and federal funding) to fund the school.  House Bill 4-403 would generate a per pupil figure through a specific system.  All Colorado school funding would be pooled together to create one figure.  Then all of the students in Colorado would be lumped to create one figure.  The pool would then be divided by the total number of Colorado students.

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House Chambers Photo By: Ashlyn Davis

This would generate a per pupil figure.  Every school would take their number of students and multiply it by the per pupil number to determine funding.  In theory this bill would aim to equalize all schools and put them on a level playing field.  But in practice, this system would damage those schools who have relied on property tax plus the state and federal funding to generate their programs within the school.

Let us take an example of a school that has two hundred students and gets 1 million dollars in funding.  If this bill was to be implemented, it would wreck the budget for that two hundred student school.  The programs that relied on the 1-million-dollar funding would most likely have to be cut and the budget change would be inherently unfair to that school.   Cherry Creek has a 2016-2017 average per pupil funding of $7,333.  Cherry Creek High School has 3,602 students.  That is a total per pupil funding of $26,413,466.  That money goes into instruction costs, support costs, and all other necessities.  Drastically changing that number, or the reduction of per pupil spending would not help education cost or lead to a more educated country.

Reducing school funding means, theoretically, that some schools would not be able to participate in programs such as Mock Trial or Speech and Debate.  That limits the opportunities in the school and thereby decreases learning.  Schools should not have to be hindered when previously they have not been able to provide the leaps in education and learning with the money they have now.  House Bill 4-403 is a bill that suffers from the problem of implementation.  We can sit around and agree that this bill would fix the inequality in each school district but implementing this would hurt more than help.  A change does need to happen regarding education.  Changes in how schools operate, the graduation requirements, and what material to cover in the classroom.  However, House Bill 4-403 cannot provide the change that we need regarding education.  The hypothetical is much less harmful than the truth of the matter.  This is a bill that is best designated for what-ifs.

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