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(Photo: Flickr/Clint Gardner)

The funding gap between Colorado schools and the national average has continued to grow, according to the Colorado School Finance Project.
 
During the mid-90s, the state spent about $500 less per student than the national average. By 2011-12, the gap measured between $1,800 and $2,800, depending on which database is used.
 
"It’s not a question of does Colorado have the capacity or the resources," said Tracie Rainey of CSFP. "It’s policy decisions that have been made that have put other parts of state government head of K-12."
 
Colorado lawmakers allocated $500 million more into education programs last year, which is not reflected in CSFP's analysis. And Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed a one-time increase for the next budget year of $200 million above the minimum budget required to operate schools. 
 

Meanwhile, the number of poor children in Colorado schools has risen to 42 percent of all students. That’s up from 30 percent a decade ago.

In the 20 years between 1992 and 2012, Colorado’s student population increased by more than 200,000 students – but per pupil spending has fallen further behind the national average.

The Colorado School Finance Project regularly surveys the state’s 178 districts to see where they are making cuts.

More districts are drawing down reserves and are being forced to skip safety renovations to aging buildings. Staff cuts are also widespread, including administrators, teachers,  and classroom aides.

Programs cuts are happening in the areas of music, business, library, math, foreign language, speech, extracurricular, and many rural students get only core classes and some vocational education.

Other districts are entering into their third, fourth, fifth or more years of cuts and salary freezes. Other districts are adopting furlough days and going to four-day weeks.