Editorial: Bill offers promise

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Editorial Board

Matt Beckett

Community representative

Brad King

Community representative

Allan Reishus

Community representative

Brent Boyer

Newspaper representative

Scott Stanford

Newspaper representative

Our View

There’s still plenty of time — and political gamesmanship — that could alter the current proposed version of Sen. Mike Johnston’s changes to how Colorado funds its public schools, but what is included in the recent versions offers a lot to like for Moffat County parents and educators.

There’s been a lot of buzz about new legislation at the state Capitol in Denver, and most of it hasn’t been about a bill that could be a boon for Moffat County public schools.

There’s still plenty of time — and political gamesmanship — that could alter the current proposed version of Sen. Mike Johnston’s changes to how Colorado funds its public schools, but what is included in the recent versions offers a lot to like for Moffat County parents and educators.

In short, Johnston is attempting to oversee a major overhaul to how Colorado funds K-12 public education. At its heart, the legislation would allocate more per-pupil revenue to almost every school district, and Moffat County stands to see a significant boost in school revenues as a result. As it’s currently written, Johnston’s Senate Bill 213 would allocate an additional $1,264 per student to the Moffat County School District, a substantial increase over what the district currently receives.

Of course, there’s a catch. Johnston’s bill — and the increased funding — are contingent on voters statewide approving a tax increase to provide nearly

$1 billion in additional education funding. That’s a tough sell to Northwest Colorado residents already leery of government growth and inefficiencies, let alone a difficult tax pill to swallow while the region, state and country continue to pull themselves out of the Great Recession.

But there’s more to like about Johnston’s bill than just more per-pupil revenues. The legislation also calls for the state to fully fund all-day kindergarten programs, which currently are only half-funded by the state. The Moffat County School District picks up the tab for the other half of the program, providing tuition-free all-day kindergarten to local families. If the state begins to completely fund the program, that means additional revenues the school district can allocate to other educational programming.

Much about Johnston’s bill can change in the coming days and weeks — it underwent consecutive days of lengthy hearings this week at the Capitol and was subject to numerous proposed amendments — but the bottom line is that it offers a lot of promise for Moffat County. We’d like to see our school district discuss specifics on how increased funding would positively impact the quality of education Moffat County children receive; indeed, that’s a serious discussion that will have to take place if voters here and across the state are going to jump on board with a tax hike.

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