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Founded in 1995, the Colorado School Finance Project's (CSFP) mission is to compile, collect and distribute research-based, non-partisan information and data on topics related to school finance for state and local policy makers.

The Principles of School Finance: What is a School Finance System? For more information on School Finance, go to our School Finance 101 tab.

We have a new location: 1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 1101, Denver, Colorado 80203-2139.

August 2014:

DRAFT Preliminary CSFP 2014 school district Bond, Mill Levy Override, Local Sales Tax elections. Deadline to report elections to the respective counties is September 5, 2014. Report wll be updated as information changes.

Office of the State Auditor, School Fiscal Health report, July 2014. The report includes information from 2011, 2012, and 2013. For additional background, the District Budget Cuts tab contains information about the cuts districts made during this timeframe due to the Negative Factor and mid-year rescissions. The Colorado School Finance Timeline and Education Reform provides a historical overview of this time period. Prior year School Fiscal Health reports from 2009-2013 are on the School Finance 101 tab, then click on the Office of the State Auditor heading.

Map of Districts with 2 or more warning indicators:

July 2014

CSFP and APA presentation at CASE Conference - School Finance:

1) What does a good finance system look like and how does Colorado compare?
2) National Trends - formulas, funding, budgeting, transparency, student count.
3) Foundation formulas - philosophy of districts - FTE, student based and combinations
4) Colorado's formula

K-12 Per Pupil Funding and National Average Chart comparing Colorado per pupil funding to the National average 1970 - 2011 using NCES data, Gallagher, TABOR, and Amendment 23 passage also noted. Chart provided by Great Education Colorado.

June 2014

Dwyer v State of Colorado - complaint, press release, media. We have also added a new tab, Amendment 23 Dwyer v CO, for information related to the lawsuit.

June 2014 State Forecast: Legislative Council Forecast and Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB)

Mill Levy Overrides between 2009-2013 - Between 2009 and 2013, Colorado experienced the Great Recession and the beginnings of an economic recovery. To help balance the state's budget, the Colorado State Legislature first instituted Mid-Year rescissions, and then created the Negative Factor. During this time period 40 of Colorado's 178 districts passed a mill levy override (MLO), while 138 did not. Mill Levy Overrides between 2009-2013 is a one-page overview of the impact of having the capacity/not having the capacity to pass a MLO, the wide variation of how many dollars 1 mill can raise, and the impact to district budgets.

District Budget Conversations for 2014-15 School Year - information from districts and media as of June 30, 2014. Prior year budget cut conversations are in the District Budget Cuts tab.

CSFP's annual update to our timeline: Colorado's School Finance & Education Reform Timeline 1980-2014 - updated June 2014.

May 2014

What is Equity in School Finance? discussion presentation to CSFP Advisory Committee.

School Finance as of end of session.

April 2014

Buy-down of Negative Factor & Related Information


CSFP presentation to Advisory Committee

Colorado Public Radio: Why Colorado schools want their $1 billion back - listen or read the article. CPR's education reporter Jenny Brundin talks with Colorado Matters host Ryan Sarner about the $1 billion Negative Factor - April 16, 2014

March 2014

Presentation by Natalie Mullis, Chief Economist, Colorado Legislative Council to CSFP: The Colorado Economy, State Budget and TABOR Situation, March 21, 2014.

Students with Disabilities Four-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate - U.S. and Colorado

  • CO has one of the larger achievement gaps; ranking 33 of 48
  • 4 Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate:
    • All students: 75%
    • Students with Disabilties: 54%
    • Colorado Percentage Point Gap: 21
  • Colorado identifies about 10% of students as needing Special Education services. The National Average is about 12%.


All district responses (84 of 178 districts; 47%) gathered by CSFP regarding the impact of two scenarios (request for $200 million to reduce the negative factor by superintendents) for the 2014-15 budgets. Responses include district replies, letters and resolutions. Responses as of March 27, 2014. (See related post in February 2014 below). CSFP Timeline of School Finance and Education Reform.

We added a new tab: School Finance Act/Legislation & Amendment 23 - School Finance Bills, K-12 Education Supplemental Bills with related legislative information from 2000-2013. State Education Fund (SEF) Reports from 2002-2014, and Amendment 23.

February 2014

The Colorado School Finance Project, per the request of school districts, gathered information reflecting the impact of two scenarios for the 2014-15 budgets. The superintendents requested $275 million for education - $75 million of the $275 million was earmarked, assuming no discretion on funds. The CSFP asked districts to reflect on the impact of $200 million to reduce the negative factor (this in addition to the Governor's budget). We will gladly take input for how districts will utilize the $75 million in earmarked dollars. All responses will be published:


A Blast from the Past: Reminders about TABOR Rebates, Colorado Fiscal Institute

Students with Disabilities Four-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate - U.S. and Colorado


CASE Conference 2014, DBO Presentation powerpoint and handouts:

Three Years of Negative Factor by district - FY 2011-12 thru FY 2013-14. Totals by district and Fiscal Year.

Update to CSFP Trends in Per Pupil Spending illustrates the gap between Colorado and the national average, 1991-92 through 2010-11. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado state Profile Data, Education Week; Quality Counts, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). For the past 19 years, the gap has continued to grow; from less than $500 per student in the early to mid-1990s to between $1,800 and $2,700 less by FY 2010-11.



January 2014

Presentation by Natalie Mullis, Chief Economist, Legislative Council Staff to CSFP covering:

  • Economic and Budget Outlook
  • SB 09-228 Transfers
  • The Basics of TABOR
  • TABOR and Revenue Management
  • Memorandum of Overview of SB 09-228, Concerning an Increase in the Flexibility of the General Assembly to Determine the Appropriate Use of State Revenues - November 13, 2013

Presentation by Charlie Brown, Director, Colorado Futures Center at CSU: Financing Colorado's Future - A Fresh Outlook at The Funding of State Government.


Two Issue Briefs 1)Colorado State and Local Taxes and 2)Corporate Income Taxes from Colorado Legislative Council Staff


Presentation to Joint Education Committee: Overview of State Education Fund and K-12 Public School Funding - January 22, 2014, Craig Harper & Todd Herreid, JBC Budget Committee Staff & Legislative Council Staff

Trends in 2013 pupil membership (updated with CDE 2013 Instruction Progam Counts). This information is also available on the Student Trends tab/page.

  1. Who are Colorado's Public School Students? as of January 2014 - Highlights of several population groups
  2. Fall Student Counts for Gifted and Talented, Special Education, English Learners, Free Lunch, Trends in pupil membership.
  3. Colorado's Homeless Student Count 2005-2013.
  4. Free Lunch and Reduced Lunch Count, report on PK-12, 42% of Colorado's PK-12 students are Free and Reduced Lunch. Source: CDE Fall Free Lunch and Reduced Lunch Count.
  5. English Language Learners (ELL) and English Language Proficiency Act (ELPA), showing ELL and ELPA student count and per pupil spending trends, data source: CDE
  6. GT Students Served and Program Funding, 2005-06 thru 2013-14, Data source: CDE Instuctional Program Count.


Colorado and U.S. Teacher Salary Summary 2012-13: How Colorado teacher salaries compare to other states average teacher salary for 2012-13 and the average teacher salary percent change in constant dollars (1999-000 to 2012-13). Information from NCES using NEA, Estimates of School Statistics. Over the past 13 years, Colorado decreased the average teacher salary by 4.9%

  • Colorado estimated teacher salary 2012-13: $49,844
  • $6,539 below the U.S. Average
  • Rank: 32

Education Week, Quality Counts 2014 (2010-11 School Year, FY 2011). Colorado focus:

  1. Per Pupil Spending by State: Colorado ranks 43 of 51 in per pupil spending; spending $2,704 less per pupil than the U.S. Average of $11,864.
  2. Percent Total Taxable Resources spent by State. Colorado ranks 38th.
  3. School Finance Grade by state. Colorado ranks 39th with a D+.
  4. Achievement Gap-Closing Remains a Challenge State Map. U.S. map from Education Week: Quality Counts 2014. Colorado's gap widened by 5 points or more.
  5. Nearby States Spending More Per Pupil than Colorado. Colorado spends $2,704 less than the U.S. average.
    • Kansas spends $2,424 more than Colorado
    • Montana $5,329
    • Nebraska $4,483
    • Wyoming $10,374
  6. Past Quality Counts reports


2014 School Finance: from November and December 2013 Forecasts

Note: Typically our Home page contains information from the last 6 months. We try to "roll off" information every month to our Historical Info page. The information is in chronological order, most recent first.

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