The case turned on the meaning of ‘base’ funding per pupil. Amendment 23 says base per pupil funding must increase every year, but plaintiffs argued it has not actually done so ever since the state created the negative factor, which reflects an amount taken from the base per pupil funding every year. The negative factor was created in times of economic struggle in Colorado, and many education advocacy groups have argued it is not necessary for Colorado to use this process when the economy is thriving again. The lawsuit did not ask for back pay on previous years of the negative factor, but to eliminate it moving forward.
The lawsuit was filed by Children’s Voices, a small non-profit law firm in Boulder headed by attorney Kathy Gephardt. If you were at EPOG’s first interest meeting, you saw Gephardt speak about her passion for education law and this work. She also currently teaches education law at DU.
This lawsuit followed a different recent challenge to the constitutionality of the Colorado Education System, Lobato v. State, which won at the Court of Appeals but was later overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court. This case was also organized and led by Children’s Voices.
For many education advocates, this decision is disheartening. Great Education Colorado expressed its disappointment but said instead of responding with anger, it will continue to move forward in advocating for students and quality education. Great Ed released an ‘apology and promise’ to students which you can view and sign here.
Read more about the case here, including a copy of the full opinion. Chief Justice Rice authored the opinion, which was joined by Justices Boatright, Coats, and Eid. Justices Marquez, Hood, and Gabriel dissented.
Posted by Haley DiRenzo
Credit to Chalkbeat Colorado