April 2, 2013

At Early Learning Ventures, we believe that extending quality early childhood education to more children is one of the most effective public investments possible. While Colorado has been a leader in developing high quality early childhood programs that are valued by parents, educators and communities, it’s time to bring this critical component of our education system to scale. We, therefore, support Senate Bill 213 and believe that it will provide the foundation for modernizing Colorado’s school financing system to establish the strongest student- and outcomes-based formula in the nation and strengthen the future of our state.

We applaud the Colorado Senate for passing this bill and encourage the House to pass it too. This article provides more information on the current news on the Bill 213.

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DENVER — After more than six hours of debate, the Colorado state senate gave initial approval to a major overhaul of how public education is funded in the state.

Senate Bill 213, the “School Finance Act”, will get a final, recorded senate vote Tuesday before moving on to the House.

 The complicated funding model, which aims to dole out state money based more on student needs, wouldn’t take effect after Gov. John Hickenlooper signs it into law. Because it calls for $1 billion in new funding, voters would still have to approve the increase in income tax that would support the new changes.

 “This is a once-in-a-generation chance to re-write the way that we fund the single largest, most complex and most important part of state government,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, a former teacher and principal.

 Two years ago, Johnston won support from every Republican at the Capitol when he pushed — and passed — a landmark law to change how teachers are evaluated and awarded tenure; Democrats, meanwhile, were divided on the proposal.

 That’s not the case with the School Finance Act, which appears headed for passage in the Senate on a straight party-line vote with all 15 Republicans opposed.

 “We’ve taken a lot of the reform out of this,” Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, told FOX31 Denver Monday. “And really all we’re left with is a tax increase. “And that’s going to hit the average Colorado family by $417 a year.”

 Republicans, who offered a slew of unsuccessful amendments during Monday’s debate, oppose the bill primarily because of the proposed tax hike; and they don’t like that districts with higher numbers of at-risk students or English language learners will get additional funding.

 Johnston’s proposal would also fund early childhood education and full-day kindergarten for any Colorado family that wants to enroll.

 “We know that one of the best returns on investment for our education dollars is in early childhood education,” Johnston said.

 The bill would also change how enrollment, which determines a school’s funding, is counted. Right now, a one-day count determines a school’s funding for the entire school year. Johnston proposes moving to a more accurate tabulation of attendance by averaging the number of students in the classroom over the course of a school year.

To access the video associated with this article, visit KDVR Fox31 News.