The official website for Colorado Senator Mike Johnston (D-Denver)

School Finance Technical Advisory Group

The School Finance Partnership (SFP) Recommendations were an historic agreement on common principles across a diverse group of stakeholders. Together, the SFP created a vision of what our education system could be. The next crucial phase requires moving from the monumental agreements of the SFP to the technical requirements of policy. To accomplish that end, the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Senator Mike Johnston have formed a technical advisory group (TAG) to create a deeper understanding of the highly technical portions of the SFP Recommendations. This document outlines the overarching principles of this next process, the structure of TAG, and the many opportunities for interested stakeholders to engage in this process.  

Overarching Principles

In crafting the structure of the TAG, it was important to honor the unprecedented collaboration of the SFP. To continue the spirit of open, candid conversation, the TAG will adhere to the following principles:
  • Going forward, all interested stakeholders must be involved in a substantive and transparent discussion about any proposed School Finance revision.
  • SFP stakeholders should have several opportunities to review and comment on the progress of the policymaking. They should also have the opportunity to submit their own research.
  • While consensus will always be the goal, translating the principles of the SFP Recommendations into policy may not garner full consensus.
 

TAG Structure

The research process will involve two distinct groups – the technical advisory group (TAG) on the one hand and any interested stakeholders (including, but not limited to, the SFP) on the other:
  • Given that some SFP Recommendations require further technical exploration, the TAG researchers comprise a mix of acknowledged local and national experts who can provide the desired technical guidance (see “TAG Dates, Researchers, and Research Areas” below).
  • Interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to attend TAG presentations, ask questions, and, if desired, present their own research and recommendations.
 

Opportunities for Engagement

Every effort will be made to ensure all stakeholders have multiple opportunities to participate:
  • All interested stakeholders are invited to attend every presentation by TAG researchers. For any stakeholder who cannot attend the live sessions, the presentations and any subsequent discussion will be videotaped and posted online.
  • At the TAG meetings, the designated researcher will present his/her findings. The meeting attendees will then have the opportunity to debate the information.
  • To provide another avenue for input, CCC is engaging the Hope Street Group to create an interactive online platform in which all stakeholders can download TAG researcher presentations, comment on any aspect of the presentations, or upload their own recommendations or research.
  • At the beginning of every TAG meeting, there will be an opportunity to revisit and synthesize the discussion from the previous TAG meeting.
  • All TAG presentations and in-person or online feedback will be compiled into a published TAG report that will be available to all stakeholders.
 

TAG Dates, Researchers, and Research Areas

1. Ken Wong, Brown University – October 16, 8:00-11:00 AM, History Colorado Auditorium (1200 Broadway, Denver 80203)

Weights and Categoricals

  • SFP Recommendation: “When the foundational per-pupil funding is sufficient, separate funds for targeted programs should only be included when absolutely necessary. We should strive to reach outcomes for all students rather than increasing numbers of fragmented funding streams (Overarching Principle #2).”
  • Guiding Questions: How might a revised school funding formula eliminate the complexity and fragmentation of the current formula, while ensuring sufficiency of funding for all students and flexibility for districts and schools in allocating funding?

State and Local Share of Funding

  • SFP Recommendation C.2.1: “The tax structure supporting the state’s school funding system should be made more equitable … Residents in different school districts should not pay substantially different tax rates to support their schools.” Similarly, neither the state nor local districts should pay a disproportionate share of funding.
  • Guiding Questions: How should a formula share funding between districts and the state to achieve an equitable balance in which neither entity is disproportionately burdened?
2. CDE & Office of Legislative and Legal Services – Oct. 25, 2:00-5:00pm, History Colorado (1200 Broadway, Denver 80203)

Special Education Funding

  • SFP Recommendation C.1.6: The state should “provide adequate revenue for districts to address the needs of special education students in a way that does not over-incentivize districts to over-identify those students.”
  • Guiding Questions: What federal or state legal obstacles might constrain the General Assembly’s ability to create a more efficient SPED funding program that provides more flexibility to districts in how they support SPED students?
3. Marguerite Roza, University of Washington – Oct. 30, 2:00-5:00 PM, Colorado State Capitol Senate Committee Room 356 (200 E Colfax Avenue, Denver 80203)

Student Count Date

  • SFP Recommendation C.1.8: Colorado should “allocate funds equitably based on accurate student counts throughout the year.”
  • Guiding Questions: How can Colorado use a system of average daily membership (ADM) to maximize accuracy in student count? How should the state fund the build-out of such a system?

Student-Based Allocation

  • SFP Recommendation A.2: Colorado should encourage “allocation methods in which a portion of funding follows students to the public schools they attend.”
  • Guiding Questions: What have school districts across states that have implemented a system of student-based allocation (SBA) experienced? What are the benefits and challenges Colorado districts would face in implementing SBA?
4. Todd Herreid, Colorado Legislative Council – November 5, 2:00-5:00 PM, History Colorado (1200 Broadway, Denver 80203)

Funding for ECE and Full-Day K

  • SFP Recommendation A.3: The State Education Funding System should provide for full-day kindergarten for all families who choose it, full-day ECE for at-risk 4-year-olds, and half-day ECE for at-risk 3-year-olds.
  • Guiding Questions: What would it cost to provide these offerings?

Revenue

  • SFP Recommendation D.1: “The State Education Funding System should provide revenue sufficient for districts to meet standards as well as assessment, accountability and evaluation expectations.”
  • Guiding Question: Depending on what is learned from the above research areas, what reshaping the school finance formula cost, and how will that revenue be generated?
5. Wrap-Up Meeting – November TBD

Discuss any remaining research and legislative next steps