$263 million more in education funding proposed by Colorado lawmakers

DENVER - A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers are proposing $263 million more in funding for various education initiatives.

The funds come at a time when school districts across the state are struggling to fill the basics.

"I'm combining my second and third grade instructional staff," said George Welsh, superintendent in Center, Colorado.

"Even though my elementary school population went up last year, I had to eliminate two teacher positions," said Welsh.

Legislative leaders announced Thursday that $80 million of those funds would go to districts to fill recession-era budget cuts that resulted in late-state days and other cutbacks.

According to the House of Representatives, the rest of the so-called Student Success Act would commit up to:

-$35 million for English-language learners.

-$20 million for reading programs.

-$13 million for charter school construction.

-$100 million in one-time support to assist schools with teacher evaluations, reading proficiency programs, improved achievement assessments and school safety.

-$10 million in one-time money to change policies for counting students. 

-$5 million, one time, for a website to publicly track school spending.

A bill outlining the spending package will be introduced in the House soon. The spending plan is dependent on next month's state revenue forecast.

This is not going to fix it, but like I said it's a step in the right direction," said Welsh.

Yet larger funding issues remain.

"As we get more forecasts and we see where the revenue is, we'll put as much money as we can into flexible dollars for the schools, but we have to do it a financially sustainable way," said Speaker Mark Ferrandino, (D-Denver).

The money would come from the state's general fund and is in addition to the $258.4 million in new total program funding for K-12 education that is in Gov. John Hickenlooper's budget request.