Child Poverty and School Finance Formula
STUDY OF THE FINANCING OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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03:32 PM -- Child Poverty and School Finance Formula
Alex Medler, representing the Colorado Children's Campaign, presented on child poverty and the school finance formula (Attachment J). He discussed the growing number of children living below the poverty line. He noted geographically where there are the highest percentages of children living in poverty. He noted that the bulk of children living below poverty in Colorado are living along the Front Range, but the percentage as total population is higher in rural communities. He also discussed the change in unemployment rate from March 2008 to March 2009. He also showed the growth in the poorest of the state's citizens. Mr. Medler responded to questions from Senator Johnston.
Mr. Medler discussed how children living in extreme poverty changes by a child's age because of a parent's ability to work, which he noted could be mitigated by increasing access to pre-K programs. He noted the progress the state has made in full-day kindergarten enrollment, but that where there is a growth in poverty, there is less full-day kindergarten. He also shared statistics on the percentage of students who graduate high school based on the number of 9th grade semester failures.
Mr. Medler discussed the "catching up" and "keeping up" theory and that the state does a bad job of getting students to catch up and keep up in school. He shared statistics illustrating that point.
Representative Middleton commented that the suburbs experiencing outmigration from Denver are not prepared to deal with children living in poverty. Mr. Medler noted that Colorado is 50th in providing health care coverage to children living in poverty. Senator King asked follow up questions about strategies for assisting students who are partially proficient. Mr. Medler responded that Denver does use different strategies, but that the slide Senator King referred to in the presentation is an estimate for whether the district can keep up or not. Senator King asked about the 9th grade failure rate.
Mr. Medler recommended that the at-risk definition be expanded to include more than poverty. Senator King asked Mr. Medler's opinion on student-based budgeting for improving student achievement. Mr. Medler responded to questions from the committee.