Polis signs $24 million funding bill to help schools with new immigrant students

Paolo Zialcita/CPR News
Governor Jared Polis addresses HB24-1389’s bill sponsors on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

The Colorado Department of Education will distribute approximately $24 million from the state education fund to school districts and charter schools that recently enrolled new immigrant students. 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers sponsored the bill, which was signed by Gov. Jared Polis on Thursday. Lawmakers said school districts in Colorado have received about 7,000 unexpected students between October 2023 and March 2024. 

“Schools are scrambling to ensure that they have the funds to be able to support both our new students and the needs that they have with paraprofessionals, folks who can help with English language acquisition and all of the wraparound services that they need, as well as supporting all of the students who were already in our schools and as we face some overcrowding of classrooms,” Democratic Rep. Emily Sirota of Denver said during the bill signing ceremony.

Republican Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer of Weld and Larimer Counties praised the passage of the bill, but called on her colleagues to ensure resources are not divested from documented students. 

“It's important that we treat our new arrivals with respect, but that we also ensure the educational outcomes for our children that are in these schools that exist in these schools now,” Kirkmeyer said. 

Funding will come in two forms. First, school districts and charter schools will receive a fixed rate between $15,000 and $750,000 from the Department of Education, depending on how many new students have been enrolled. 

Separately, school districts and charter schools will also receive $4,500 per either their total net student population, or the number of new arrival students, depending on which figure is smaller.
Responding to the arrival of new immigrants over the last year has proven pricey for Colorado and its cities. Many City of Denver departments were forced to find ways to trim the budget, as it struggled to pay for Mayor Mike Johnston’s $90 million immigration response.