Lawsuit targets Colorado school funding

DENVER (AP) - A group of Colorado school districts are suing the state over a funding procedure they say violates the constitution as mandated by Amendment 23.

"In the year 2000, the voters of Colorado made a promise to our children and that promise was we were going to increase public education funding," Tim Macdonald, plantiffs' attorney, said. "In 2010, our state began violating that promise and violating the constitutional amendment by slashing a billion dollars in K-through-12 public education."

The lawsuit filed in Denver Friday challenges a state school-funding procedure known as the "negative factor" which allows the reduction of per pupil funding based on lagging state revenues.

Macdonald says that practice directly goes against Amendment 23.

"The suit we filed this morning seeks to rectify that and keep the promise to our kids," Macdonald said.

Plaintiffs including the Colorado PTA and several school districts say the state constitution requires school funding to increase by inflation and enrollment growth.

Though school funding has been partially restored because of an improved economy, plaintiffs want to prevent Colorado from using the funding procedure in future downturns by using factors beyond inflation and enrollment growth to cut education budgets.

The plaintiffs' lawyers worked on an unsuccessful school-funding legal challenge in a case called Lobato vs. State of Colorado that was dismissed last year by the state Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for the Attorney General's office says she cannot confirm that the office is reviewing the lawsuit, but she says the Attorney General will defend the state as it adheres to Colorado laws.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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