AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis continues to detail where some of the dollars are set to go next year if lawmakers get his budget proposal into law.
On Thursday, the governor spent some time talking about potential funding with local teachers and students. The school Polis visited is receiving some federal money, but as teachers and students found out, the governor is hoping they see more state dollars too.
Aurora Quest K-8 is one of 16 schools in Colorado that will receive $50,000 from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
State lawmakers were on hand Thursday to celebrate that funding with teachers and students. Additionally, the governor shared his proposal to allocate more than $564 million to education in next year’s budget.
“Working with our wonderful legislators here, we are also committed to delivering a budget this year that fully funds our public schools here in Colorado,” Polis said to a cheering crowd of students.
Students told the governor they want to see the money used for more activities and books.
Colorado education funds hit by ‘budget stabilization factor’
State lawmakers like Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-District 59, have advocated for more education funding for years. As the former educator enters her last year as a state representative, she is eager to see the budget element that reduces school funding become a thing of the past.
“This is my eighth year in office, and all I ever wanted to do was to get this — we call it the ‘BS factor,’ paid off,” McLachlan said, speaking of the so-called “budget stabilization factor” that reduces education funding to balance the budget. “So I will be more than happy to do that. I can retire and be extremely pleased with what I did.”
“Fourteen years now, we’ve promised them money, and every year we pay a little bit off, a little bit off, and we could never pay it all off at once, because you have to make sure that money is in the budget for the next year,” McLachlan said. “And we have to keep it going — we can’t just pay it off and fire everybody we just hired with that money, so we’ve had to do it very methodically, and it’s been done. And I think we’re really excited.”
Will Colorado teacher salary improve?
Teachers said they believe those dollars will go a long way.
“There’s a lot of conversation going on with teacher salary, and I think hopefully some of that will help benefit teacher salary, because it’s hard to retain good teachers when you don’t have compensation,” said Natalie Johnson, a third-grade math and science teacher at Aurora Quest K-8. “Second of all, like I said, buses cost a lot, getting bus drivers to take you and get after-school experiences costs a lot.”
Polis said teacher pay will improve under the recommended budget allocation.
The governor also wants money from the upcoming budget to fund an after-school science program, like the after-school math program the state currently has. McLachlan sponsored the bill for the after-school math program and plans to do the same for the science program.