SSSD: Legislature needs to repay, fully fund public education
At the March 28 board meeting, the Steamboat Springs Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution supporting sustainable and equitable funding of Colorado public education. The resolution, sent to our state legislature, state representatives and the governor, calls for the elimination of the budget stabilization factor by 2023, repayment of the $9.7 billion owed to public schools since 2009, and a legislative commitment to fully restoring education funding in future budgets.
SSSD is owed $28.8 million and this year alone is owed $1.8 million. Decisions made at the state level have enormous financial implications for our district budget. Moving into the budget process for the 2022-23 school year, we want our community to be aware of the challenges related to school funding and the background behind the numbers.
Since 2009, elected officials have balanced the state budget on the backs of Colorado students. As a result of the budget stabilization factor, Colorado ranks abysmally in education funding. Colorado’s per-pupil public education funding ranks 43rd when adjusted for regional cost differences and 45th based on the percentage of the state’s wealth spent on education.
As of 2019, Colorado was $2,158 below the national average for per-pupil spending, leading to poor conditions, large class sizes, outdated textbooks and understaffed schools. Research confirms the No. 1 school-related factor for student achievement is high-quality teachers. Yet, Colorado ranks 49th for competitive teacher pay. Before the COVID pandemic, Colorado was already experiencing an educator shortage. With a rise in housing costs, cost of living increases, and a myriad of other factors that adversely affect our teachers’ ability to remain committed to their jobs, we face a real problem in attracting and retaining the staff vital to our students’ success in school.
In addition, insufficient funding has contributed to the tremendous conflict in negotiating compensation, which is inadequate for our teachers who live in one of the most expensive communities in Colorado. Adequately funding public education is an urgent statewide concern to support our teachers and staff — the lifeblood of student success in Colorado. We encourage you to reach out to the governor and your state legislative representatives to support our valuable educators.
Lara Craig, Kim Brack, Chresta Brinkman and Katy Lee
Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education
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In a survey earlier this month, 90% of teachers at Steamboat Springs High School that responded said they don’t have faith in the leadership of Principal Rick Elertson, according to the Steamboat Springs Education Association.