Understand Public School Funding in Colorado – Part II

By fans of Paul Harvey

The ECT’s earlier story about Public School Funding in Colorado (Click Here) was 100% accurate – HOWEVER, incomplete.

For the fans of Paul Harvey – here is the rest of the story….

FACT – each year in Colorado our State Legislature sets the States “per pupil funding dollar amount”.

So, as we learned earlier a School District with 5000 students with State funding set at say ($5,000.00/student) gets $25 Million to spend annually on School District education.  [Note: School District Bond debt is not part of any of this formula]

The $25 Million dollar figure is (in most cases) made up of that School District’s Property Taxes + plus Colorado State funding to bring that grand total up to $25 Million.  Obviously, in more affluent Colorado Counties (Pitkin, Eagle, Routt) the vast MAJORITY of Public School dollars (example: $25 Million) come from local Taxpayers, not the State.  In Lake County (Leadville) the funding is reversed the State paying a higher percentage of the ($25 Million) total than Property Tax payers in Lake County.  Get it, so far?

Part II – it is also legal in Colorado – that School District voters who vote to do this – can legally EXCEED the State mandated CAP by up to 25%.

Last November’s School District Ballot issue (3B) was an attempt by our School District to raise to ~125% the mandated Colorado per pupil Public School number.

THIS ALSO EXPAINS – why no specific increase in Mill Levy (number) was mentioned in the 3B Ballot language!  Keep reading.

Consider – the potential impact on Eagle County Property Taxpayers had 3B passed!!!

Say next year the Colorado State legislature says the 2013 “per pupil funding dollar amount” goes down to $4,940.00 per Public School Student – times the 5,000 students = $24.8 Million.

Now add on the (3B voter approved) 25% increase = to reach a whopping $31 Million!!!  In one year a $6 Million dollar increase, the maximum (annual) allowed by the 3B Ballot language.

Keep in mind had the 3B voters approved this…100% of the $31 Million would come (by definition) from your Eagle County Property Taxes.  No Colorado State funding – at all!

How could/would the School District reach the $31 Million dollars of funding – BY A RADICAL INCREASE in your PROPERTY TAX MILL LEVY, that’s how!!!  Hence no mention of that Mill Levy fact/specific number in last November’s 3B Ballot Language!

NOTE:  The 3B ballot language did specify a maximum annual increase cap of $6 Million (Click Here) However – this annual $6 Million dollar annual Property Tax increase could go on (in theory) forever!  Even if your homes Property Value declined each year – all through the ‘magic’ of increasing your homes Mill Levy Property Tax multiplier!


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