Location: LSB B
Framing Remarks from Consultants
LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE
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09:13 AM -- Framing Remarks from Consultants
Rich Cedar, Chris Cross, and Mike Goetz (collectively Cross & Jofftus or C&J) addressed the committee. (Attachment A)
C&J challenged committee members to consider what problem they are trying to solve, and asked that today's discussion focus on allocation, with more detail about financing reserved for later meetings; C&J presented the mechanics of the Colorado school finance system with a quick comparison of how other states approach their model. Members asked some clarifying questions.
C&J provided an overview and discussion of enrollment count/ and district specific factors in the budget. C&J explained that Colorado uses a proxy for identifying at-risk students in the formula (a conversation about at risk will occur at a future date) and discussed the way Colorado adjusts the base per pupil funding with district specific factors and the budget stabilization factor. C&J made quick reference to categorical program funding in the Total Program amount. C&J discussed other funded education programs outside the formula. C&J will present more in depth on these other education programs at a later meeting to discuss how these might be modified, rolled together, or be part of the future formula.. The committee members discussed the idea of identifying a comprehensive list of other education funded programs, and were interested in details about the number, type, size, funding amount, allocations, student participation, etc of these other programs.
Discussion moved to Funded Pupil Count and the way that Colorado identifies student enrollment for purposes of calculating school finance. C&J discussed other possible ways of counting students, and the pros and cons of using these count methods including counts by: Grade Level, Average Daily Membership (ADM) and Average Daily Attendance. The committee discussed the rolling averages used to adjust enrollment count for declining enrollment districts, and comparisons of averaging with the single student count date led to a question about how averaging and hold harmless create a cost to the system; members asked if C&J can estimate that increased cost. This needs to be part of future discussion once the data is brought out.
Discussion moved to counting kids by grade level; i.e., where different grades get different count values. In Colorado, Kindergarten is counted at .58.
Discussion turned to adjustments made to the formula from district specific factors such as personnel cost differences; also discussed were the different indexes that can be used to make this determination. For example: Comparable Wage Index or Hedonic Wage Index. Colorado uses a cost of living study but there are other indexes. C&J described how these adjustments are used to change the base amount in a foundation formula. Intent is to understand that $1 buys different amounts of things in different parts of the state. Other factors may adjust for size and economy of scale. Hedonic Wage Index tries to capture wage differences based on the amenities offered by a certain geographic areas and the lack of amenities in others. This can account for differing average wages across the state. Colorado does adjust for personnel costs, but not for non personnel cost. Some states use separate indexes for supplies and materials or for utilities in addition to the personnel cost (i.e. wages, etc.).
Chair asked staff to distribute the ADM study from 2011 to committee members.
C&J discussed other district adjustments around economies of scale such as measuring minimum resources as is done in Montana or Wyoming. Colorado factors always increase the funding for districts based on size; i.e. there is no factor that equals 1, always equals 1+ (greater than one and therefore always increases the funding; every district gets an increase, not just the small ones that might need the adjustment to cover fixed costs).