What The Trump Budget Proposal Could Mean For Colorado Education

Listen Now
4min 57sec
Photo: Teacher Alejandro Fuentes in classroom (Staff)
Alejandro Fuentes, a teacher at KIPP Montbello College Prep in Denver, Colorado, takes questions from his students on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget proposal is creating new lists of winners and losers. Military spending goes up while money for education goes down — by about 13 percent.

The budget proposal also gives us an idea of the administration’s priorities for education. It makes cuts but also puts more money into independently run charter schools and to an unspecified "new private school choice program."

Colorado schools get about 8 percent of their funds from the federal government, mostly money designated for high poverty schools and students with disabilities. That works out to $443 million for K-12 education and about $194 million from the US Department of Agriculture for child and nutrition and food distribution grants (school breakfasts and lunches). It could be months before Congressional lawmakers decide which elements of the budget to accept or reject but we wanted to look at how things would stack up for Colorado in the education arena.

Title II

Trump has proposed eliminating the program for hiring and training teachers and principals.

Colorado Impact: $25 million

Most Colorado districts have not yet calculated what a Title II cut would mean, but Denver Public Schools, the state’s largest district, puts the number at $5 million. That includes eliminating 50 “instructional deans” who help coach and teach teachers in some of the district’s highest needs schools. The JeffCo district gets just under $2 million, to pay for specialists who do side-by-side planning with teachers, professional development, coaching help after teacher evaluations, among other things.

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Trump has proposed eliminating this competitive grant program that funds before- and after-school programs and programs to lengthen the school day for academic enrichment.

Colorado Impact: $11 million

Denver Public Schools has calculated eliminating these programs amounts to $1.2 million, affecting 2,000 children in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Statewide, 76 percent of students in the programs showed improved academic performance.

Corporation For National And Community Service

Trump has proposed eliminating this federal program that finances a number of programs in public schools run by Senior Corps and AmeriCorps.

Colorado Impact: $35 million

Programs include City Year Denver, 72 college graduates assist more than 3,880 students at risk of dropping out: help with homework, attendance, offer after-school programs; Mile High United Way’s Reading Corps, helps third graders who aren’t reading at grade level, Senior Corps RSVP, which works in 20 Adams/East Arapahoe schools to help struggling second and third grade readers; PlayWorks, which uses play to build low-income children’s social and emotional health at 10 schools, Clayton Early Learning’s Ready to Read program, which helps families boost children’s oral language and vocabulary skills in schools and at home.

Impact Aid

Trump has proposed eliminating or reducing federal money that helps school districts that have a lot of non-taxable federal property like military bases or Native American reservations.

Colorado Impact: $35 million

This will affect 14 Colorado districts, including Fountain 8 that encompasses the Fort Carson army base. That district receives more than $25 million. The second biggest impact would be on Adams 12 Five Star Schools, which receives more than $2.5 million.

College Access

The White House’s budget outline would cut TRIO and Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (known as GEAR UP), which help prepare low-income children, disabled and first-generation college students for college. It includes scholarship assistance.

Colorado Impact: Colorado’s $5 million GEAR UP grant currently serves 3,500 students in 16 high schools and approximately 108 colleges (includes scholarships to colleges Colorado high school graduates attend out of state.) TRIO grants go directly to institutions and the Colorado Department of Higher Education doesn’t track those.

Student Financial Aid

The Trump administration’s preliminary budget keeps Pell funding level but would eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, which provides need based aid.

Colorado Impact: Colorado institutions of higher education receive about $10.5 million and annually serve about 17,000 students across public and private institutions. Institutions may be able to backfill some of loss but that is unlikely with small rural 2-year colleges.

Private School Choice Program

Trump is proposing adding $250 million dollars to create an unspecified "new private school choice program." Education observers predict that will take the form of a federal scholarship tax credit program. Donors give money to a non-profit scholarship granting organization that provides scholarships/vouchers to low-income children to attend private school. Donor receives federal tax credit. On the campaign trail, Trump promised $20 billion dollars devoted to private school choice, so this could greatly expand in the Republican tax proposal.

Colorado Impact: Unclear as details not released yet

Luke Ragland, president of Ready Colorado, says Florida’s tax credit program has shown big gains in student learning. On the other hand, Kevin Welner of the University of Colorado’s National Education Policy Center says an evaluation of Florida’s law shows voucher-receiving students produced insignificant changes in reading and math scores.

Charter Schools

Trump has proposed a $168 million increase to a federal charter school grant program currently funded at $333 million dollars. Charters are public schools that are independently run.

Colorado Impact: For the 2015-2018 school years, Colorado received $36 million in funding, or $11 million annually for charter school startups or expansions. The program is a competitive grant program (here are the schools who have received funds so far) so there is no guarantee Colorado would receive funding after 2018.

$1 Billion Increase To Title I Program

Trump has promised $1 billion in new funds for Title I, which is currently funded at $15 billion. Title I funds districts with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. However, the money would be used to encourage school districts to allow funding to “follow the student to the public school of his or her choice."

Colorado Impact: The Colorado Department of Education does not have enough details to calculate an impact.