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Education Funding

K-12 public schools in Colorado are primarily funded through a combination of local property taxes and state revenues.

The Issue: Education Funding

Public schools in Colorado are funded through a combination of local property taxes and funding from the state of Colorado. Colorado’s public education system is systematically underfunded. Colorado’s unique tax code, in tandem with choices made by our state’s leadership, has resulted in a school system that is operating at a more than decade-long deficit of $10 billion dollars.

Though last year’s state budget had a $2 billion surplus, none of that funding could be allocated for education funding in Colorado’s, due to TABOR restrictions. Due to these restrictive revenue-generating laws in our state, Colorado still ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to starting educator pay, wage competitiveness and per pupil funding.

A woman and child walk hand in hand holding protest signs about paying teachers, they both wear red

Educator Pay

Educator pay in Colorado is far too low. This year, the National Education Association ranked Colorado number 49 out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in teacher pay.

Group of CEA supporters sit on the lawn outside the Colorado capitol holding protest signs and smiling in support of colorado teacher union

Wage Competitiveness

Colorado educators make 35.9% less compared to comparably educated professionals in Colorado according to the Economic Policy Institute. As of 2022, if a college-educated teacher is on average paid $60,168 annually, their comparably educated peers are on average being paid 35.9% more, or $81,540. In this instance, an education professional is losing an average of $21,540 per year, just for choosing a career in education in Colorado.

Colorado education association educators stand together with rally signs in front of the Colorado state capitol during a Red for Ed day of action.

Per Pupil Funding

Per pupil funding in Colorado has been lower than the national average for decades. In fact, as of 2019, Colorado was $2,158 below the national average.

What We’re Doing About Education Funding

We know that investments in education result in powerful benefits for our students. A 2021 report by Northwestern University economists on the relationship between funding and student achievement showed that more funding means consistently better outcomes for students – not just higher test scores and higher graduation rates, but also higher wages as adults. We will continue to advocate for education funding in Colorado, providing stable and sufficient revenue for districts to meet state standards and educate all students including English learners, students living in poverty, and special needs students.