Action Alert – Support Charter School Funding Equity

Charter schools have been part of Colorado’s public school system for over 20 years and currently serve nearly 115,000 students across the state. If combined, charter public schools would be the largest district in Colorado. 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.

This inequity must no longer be allowed to continue. Charter public school students are no less a part of our public school family than any other student in the state, and there is no reason their educations should be valued any less.

For this reason, the Colorado League of Charter Schools is pursuing critical legislation that seeks to address one of the key inequities – access to local tax revenue – that charter public school students continue to confront. Introduced recently at the Capitol, Senate Bill 17-061 says two things:

  • If a local mill levy override (MLO) was passed for a specific program or operational need that a district charter school has, then the revenue generated by that MLO should go to charter public school students in that district on an equal per-pupil basis. Because the majority of school districts do not currently share this revenue equally, charter school students across the state face an estimated $20 – $25 million disparity.
  • It also calls on the state to level the playing field for students attending Charter School Institute (CSI) schools by distributing equalization payments to these schools. Because CSI schools are not tied to a school district, they have no access to local MLO revenue in the way school districts do, resulting in an average per-pupil funding gap of over $900 per student.
    (Click here for a more detailed one-page overview of the bill)

If we hope for this proposal to become law, legislators need to hear from the charter public school community in force.

Specifically, next Thursday, February 9, Senate Bill 17-061 will get its first hearing in the Senate Education Committee. Jeffco legislator, Senator Rachel Zenzinger, is a member of that committee, and if we hope to have her support, she needs to hear loud and clear from you why she should support this measure.

Please reach out to Senator Zenzinger today by either calling her office (303.866.4840) or using the email template below to send her a message at senatorrachelz@gmail.com. Either way, it should only take 5 minutes of your time. The more charter representatives she hears from about the importance of this issue, the more likely we are to have her support in committee next week. Please contact her TODAY!

Email instructions:

Use the template below to contact Senator Zenzinger and tell her about the importance of Senate Bill 17-061 to you. Personalize it by describing what your charter school means to you and how either equal MLO funding or other funding inequities have impacted your school. Ask her to support SB17-061.

Email subject line:

Support Equity for ALL Public School Students, Support SB17-061

Email template:

Dear Senator Zenzinger,

I am writing today to urge you to support equal funding for ALL public school students.

Charter schools have been part of Colorado’s public school family for over 20 years and currently serve nearly 115,000 children across the state. If combined, charter schools would be the largest district in Colorado.

Despite charter public schools’ enormous popularity and success, the average Colorado charter public school student receives 20% less public funding than their peers in traditional public schools. One child’s public education should not be valued any less than another’s simply because their school has the word “charter” in its name.

Thankfully, there is a solution on the table. Senate Bill 17-061, which was recently introduced with the bipartisan support of Angela Williams and Owen Hill, would help equalize funding for Colorado charter public school students. This legislation states that if a local mill levy override (MLO) was 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 these schools currently have zero access to local tax revenue.

I strongly encourage you to support SB17-061 when it comes before you in committee on February 9. In a time of limited resources, it is more important than ever to provide every child equal access to public resources for public education. Supporting Senate Bill 17-061 is a step in the right direction to ensure that charter public school students no longer have to deal with an injustice they neither signed up for nor deserve.

Thank you,

Posted in: News & Updates