State lawmakers are making budget decisions; let them know Kids Matter Too
The state Legislature is currently making critical budget decisions about how to fund our public schools for next year, and there’s an important opportunity to make your voice heard at the Colorado Capitol. An ad hoc coalition of school districts from across the state has come together to launch Kids Matter Too. This statewide coalition of parents and educators is calling on lawmakers to ensure Colorado’s growth benefits families by increasing funding for schools.
On Monday, March 20 the state’s latest revenue forecast was released and it shows a booming economy with more than $500 million available over what was projected just three months ago to fund critical needs. Despite this economic growth, Colorado school districts are coping with a teacher shortage crisis, shrinking funds for special education, and inadequate mental health services. Consider the following:
Colorado currently ranks 42nd in the nation in per pupil funding and 50th in the nation in teacher salary competitiveness. Next year, Colorado public schools will need to fill 3,000 vacant positions. This will be difficult with such low teacher salaries.
Funding additional mental health services is more than just a resource to help students succeed; it’s a student safety issue, as well. Years of budget cuts have decimated the ranks of school counselors and mental health professionals. Our students and families need more mental health support in our schools.
Only Oklahoma and Arizona spend less than Colorado on services for students with special needs. The federal and state government together only cover about 30% of the costs of these expensive services, which leaves individual school districts responsible to cover the remaining 70% with the dwindling funding they have.
Right now, lawmakers are deciding what to do with the additional funding, so it's important to contact your legislators this week to tell them how critical it is to increase funding for K-12 education in Colorado. Kids Matter Too provides valuable resources to help you connect with state lawmakers.
We often hear in the news about the strength of the state’s economy, but our schools are still reeling from drastic cuts during the Great Recession. Our students deserve better, and now the Legislature is in a position to return some of this funding to its public schools.
Your voice matters! Thank you for your continued partnership and support.