Student and District Characteristics

According to the 2022 School Finance Handbook, “A district’s funding under the school finance act is the number of pupils in the district multiplied by the district’s preliminary per pupil funding level, plus an amount of money provided to compensate a district for at-risk pupils, online students, English language learner students (ELL) and pupils participating in the accelerating students through concurrent enrollment (ASCENT) program. The following describes elements contained in state law that determine how pupils are counted and how a school district’s per pupil funding is adjusted by certain factors.”

Rural: A Colorado school district is determined to be rural based on the size of the district, the distance from the nearest large urban/urbanized area, and having a student enrollment of 6,500 students or less. Small rural districts are those with a student population of less than 1,000 students.

Free and Reduced Lunch: At-risk pupils are defined as students from low-income families, as measured by eligibility for free and reduced-price lunches under the National School Lunch Act. Preschool students are not included in a district’s at-risk count. The official date for counting at-risk pupils is October 1. Students qualify for free and reduced-price meals at school based on their family’s income. The act defines at-risk pupils as those who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches so districts can receive funding for students who do not actually participate in the federal program. As an alternative, the act allows districts to use the proportion of free and reduced-price lunch students in grades one through eight multiplied by the district’s enrollment if it produces a larger number than the actual count. This alternative count is provided because some high schools do not offer free and reducedprice lunches, and some students choose not to participate in the free and reduced-price lunch program, especially at the high school level.

Special Education:

Gifted and Talented: