“Reading the two sets of briefs, it’s like two ships passing in the night” – Coats, J. (oral argument). This case raised one of two questions about Amendment 23’s (Am 23) school funding mandate: what does “base” mean or, was it rendered meaningless? A “negative factor” was created by the legislature for the purpose of reducing the State’s school funding obligations. Am 23 mandates annual increases to “statewide base per pupil funding.” The Negative Factor reduces nearly all other parts of the funding formula without reducing “base” funding. The majority held that so long as there is no reduction in “base funding,” the “algebraic significance [of the Negative Factor] within the funding formula is immaterial [to Am 23’s mandate].” The dissent noted that the Negative Factor eliminates the school funding increases intended by Am 23, creating fact questions that preclude dismissal.
Tag Archives: Education Finance
Lindi Dwyer and Paul Dwyer, as individuals and parents of Jayda Dwyer, Joslyn Dwyer, Janesha Dwyer, and Jentri Dwyer, et. al. v. The State of Colorado; Robert Hammond as Commissioner of Education; and John Hickenlooper as Governor of the State of Colorado, 2015CO58 (Sept. 21, 2015)
Taylor and Alexa Lobato, et. al. and S. Ortega and B. Ortega, et. al. , v. The State of Colorado; Colorado State Board of Education; Robert K. Hammond, as Commissioner of Education; and John Hickenlooper, as Governor, 2013CO30 (May 28, 2013)
Catch 22: “A situation in which a desired outcome … is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently illogical … conditions.” Amer. Heritage Dictionary. Plaintiffs sought to remedy inherent disparities in an educational system uniformly inequitable: the wealthiest district can raise $219,000 per pupil and the poorest only $1,100. However, the standard is “thorough and uniform.” The Court held this means complete, comprehensive, and consistent, not equal. Also, the Constitution requires Local Control, so districts must control locally-raised education funds without the state mandating how such funds are used. The system is constitutional because it meets these standards. The dissents disagreed, finding the system’s disparities are not rationally related to the standards; they would also require the legislature to equitably fund its educational mandates.
For a link to all of the briefs filed in this case, click HERE.
(The CLR does not endorse or reject the views of “Children’s Voices” whose website is linked here).
Note: justiciable means the ability of a court to issue an opinion on the substantive questions presented.
Holding: “We conclude that as political subdivisions, the school districts lack standing, and that the parents’ challenge to the adequacy of school financing is a nonjusticiable political question.”
Holding: “We reverse the court of appeals’ holdings that the plaintiff school districts lack standing to sue the state and that the plaintiffs have alleged a nonjusticiable claim.”
Holding: “The Court concludes that the Colorado public school finance system is not rationally related to the mandate to establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of free public schools. On the contrary, the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded. This results in the denial of the rights of the Individuals Plaintiffs guaranteed by Article IX, section 2 of the Colorado constitution and the rights and powers of the School Districts pursuant to Article IX, sections 2 and 15.”