About Senate Bill 61

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Bill Title: Senate Bill 17-061 – Additional Funding Charter School Operating Costs (concerning distribution of additional operational funding to charter schools)

Bill Sponsors: Senator Owen Hill (R), Senator Angela Williams (D), Rep. Lang Sias (R), Rep. Paul Rosenthal (D)

Why is it Needed?
Charter schools have been part of Colorado’s public school family for nearly 25 years and currently serve 115,000 students in 238 schools across the state. If Colorado’s charter school students were combined into one school district it would be the largest district in the state.

Despite this enormous popularity and success, the average Colorado charter public school student still only receives 80 cents on the dollar compared with his or her traditional public school peer. Senate Bill 61 seeks to remedy this disparity by addressing one of the key funding inequities – access to local tax revenue – that charter public school students continue to confront.

What the Bill Does:

  • The main reason for the funding disparity that charter students face is the fact that the majority of Colorado school districts do not equally share local tax revenue raised through mill levy overrides (MLOs) with their charter schools.
  • The unequal distribution of this revenue has resulted in an approximately $20 million funding disparity between our state’s traditional public schools and charter public schools.
  • SB61 seeks to address this inequity by saying that if a voter-approved MLO is passed for a specific program or operational need that a district charter school offers, then the revenue generated by that MLO should go to charter public school students in that district on an equal per-pupil basis.
  • It also calls on the state to help level the playing field for students attending Charter School Institute (CSI) schools. Because CSI schools are not tied to a school district, they currently have no access to local tax revenue in the way school districts do, resulting in an average per-pupil funding gap of over $900 per student.

What the bill does NOT do:

  • SB61 does NOT dictate the types of programmatic and operational needs a district may decide to build into its MLO measures.
  • It does NOT require that a district share those MLO revenues that were raised for a specific program or grade level that one of its charters does not offer.
  • Lastly, it does NOT take away a district’s ability to direct MLO funds to certain historically disadvantaged populations such as special education students and students in poverty. It simply asks that if funds are directed in this way, that charter school students in these populations receive their proportionate share.

Click here to view the full bill language.

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