Moffat County might benefit from increase to K-12 funding next year |

Moffat County might benefit from increase to K-12 funding next year

— Moffat County schools may see an increase in state funding if recent recommendations made by Gov. John Hickenlooper are approved this spring.

“The governor’s recommendations include positive change in per-pupil funding resulting in a net increase of a small amount. These numbers are very preliminary,” said Moffat County School District Superintendent Dave Ulrich.

Hickenlooper sent his recommendations for the 2017-18 budget, including K-12 school finance, to the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly in September.

An analysis of the recommendations was presented to the Moffat County School Board during their November monthly meeting.

Revenue would increase by $174 per pupil for Moffat County School District, Ulrich said.

However, the governor’s recommendations also include an increase in the negative factor, which could hurt school districts across the state.

“The governor’s office did increase the negative factor by $48.2 million dollars. That’s not good news. The idea is to keep the negative factor at the current level or decrease to keep education more fully funded. But to balance the budget they had to increase,” said Colorado Department of Education School Finance Division Executive Director Jennifer Okes.

Since 2009, the state has applied the negative factor to uniformly cut funding for K-12 education in an effort to balance the budget.

“The good news, even with the increase (in the negative factor), overall most districts will get more money on a per-pupil basis due to Amendment 23,” Okes said.

The increase is the result of Amendment 23 that almost 53 percent of Colorado voters passed in 2000.

The measure requires that the statewide base per-pupil funding for public education and funding for specifically defined categorical programs grow annually by at least the rate of inflation, according to Great Education Colorado’s website.

Gains based on inflation are higher than the negative factor resulting in a net increase; however, state legislators must now negotiate the governor’s proposal.

“The governor’s budget is only a proposal and the Joint Budget Committee, and the legislature typically make many changes as we move through the legislative process,” wrote Okes in an email to school superintendents.

In December, the Colorado Department of Education will participate in Joint Budget Committee hearings, submit supplemental budget requests for 2016-17 for changes in assessed valuations and pupil counts based on the actual October 2016 pupil count, and update projections for next year based on actual information, Okes said.

Once the state budget has been approved, it will allow the MCSD to have a clearer idea of revenue from the state as they move into the spring budget process, Ulrich said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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