Category Archives: Fiscal Responsibility

New Guide for States to Improve Public School Funding

For those intrepid enough to dive into the complex and confusing world of school finance, ExcelinEd’s new Student Centered State Funding: A How To Guide for States is an exceptional outline to learn about the benefits of student-based funding. Student-based funding is a clear, logical way to maximize the efficiency of funding and equitably finance school districts. A base amount of funding is granted to each student that follows them to any district they choose to attend. The amount is increased for students with disadvantages, such as those in special education programs or in poverty. The amount that funding increases for disadvantaged students in a student-based funding model is determined by a multiplier. Let’s say (using hypothetical base funding and multipliers for this example) that the base funding for an average student is $5,000. If the student in question was an English language learner, then we would increase the multiplier from 1 to 1.5. Now, the student would receive (1.5 x 5,000) $7,500 in funding. Disadvantaged or not, whatever district the student chooses to attend, the funding will follow. In the creation and maintaining of a student-based funding plan, ExcelinEd emphasizes five steps: Establish a base funding amount that every […]

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Not All Records Are Good Records When It Comes to Taxpayers

Records are usually good things to set. Consider Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt’s blindingly fast 100m dash record. Or maybe you’d be more impressed by U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps’ record number of individual medals—a record that hasn’t been touched since a guy named Leonidas of Rhodes won his 12th individual event in 152 B.C. That’s right, B.C. as in Before Christ. If you’re more into weirder records, you could ponder the couple who hold the record for most tattooed senior citizens, the man who maintains the world’s largest afro, the cat who holds the distinction of being the world’s longest housecat (at about four feet in length), or the llama who holds the record for highest bar jump cleared by a llama. Yep, that’s a real thing. But sometimes records aren’t so great. For instance, the record for “worst pandemic” goes to the bubonic plague, otherwise known as the “Black Death,” which killed about a quarter of the people in Europe back during the 1300s. My guess is that few people were excited about that one. And although tax increases are somewhat less terrible than society-ravaging outbreaks of plague (some may disagree on that point), I can’t imagine Colorado taxpayers are super […]

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Pizza Pies and Dollar Signs

I love pizza. Do you love pizza? Oh, what a silly question! Of course you love pizza. Everyone loves pizza! But here’s the big question: Do you love pizza enough to spend $2.6 million on it? Denver Public Schools does. I ran across an interesting article this morning from Kyle Clark, my favorite 9News reporter, who has apparently discovered that DPS has negotiated an agreement with Blackjack Pizza for $886,730 in the first year. If the pizza “meets expectations” (whatever that means given that there is no such thing as bad pizza, only shades of deliciousness), the agreement could be extended for another two years. That brings the grand total to $2.6 million.

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COPs and Robbers: A Tale of Two Jeffco Schools

It’s been a little while since we talked about Jeffco, but I couldn’t resist chiming in on a CBS 4 story proudly declaring that the district has broken ground on a “brand-new K-8 school” in Arvada’s Candelas development. The construction of a new school wouldn’t normally merit a blog post, but this particular school carries such political baggage and symbolic value that it’s impossible to ignore. If you dig deep into the locked container in your head labeled “Jeffco Recall 2015,” you’ll probably remember a bit of a kerfuffle last year about the proposed use of certificates of participation to finance new school construction in Jefferson County. COPs, as they’re colloquially known, exist mostly as an end-run around TABOR in that they allow governments to incur long-term debt without voter approval. The Independence Institute’s Josh Sharf explains it like this: The government, in this case a school district, transfers some asset, usually a building or set of buildings, to a special-purpose entity set up specifically to administer the COP.  That entity – not the school district itself – then floats the bond on the municipal bond market.  It then leases the buildings back to the school district for lease payments […]

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