Colorado School Funding Lawsuit Moving Ahead

Last Updated: March 26, 2010

This article appeared in the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

Editor's note: Links are free and current at time of posting, but may require registration or expire over time.

Additional plaintiffs have joined Colorado’s Lobato school funding lawsuit, which claims that the current school finance system is unconstitutional under the state’s “thorough and efficient” standard. Jefferson County and Colorado Springs, two of the state’s larger school districts have joined the suit, as well as a group of parents from Denver. A group of plaintiff intervenors, including English Language Learners and low-income students represented by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, have also joined the suit.

In the amended complaint recently filed in district court, updated school finance figures highlight the state’s funding problems. Currently, there is funding for fewer than half the English Language Learners working below grade level, and Colorado is almost $2000 below the national per pupil spending average. In addition, teacher salaries are lagging as is funding for other basic programs such as full-day kindergarten. The Colorado Department of Education estimates an overall $2.8 billion is needed to eliminate these shortfalls.

The plaintiffs in the suit scored a major victory last fall when the Colorado Supreme Court overturned two lower court decisions and ruled that the case can be heard in districts court. Lobato plaintiff attorney and Rural Trust board member Kathleen Gebhardt says she hopes the case will be tried next summer.

Read more:

Coverage of the districts joining the suit:

Summary of the amended complaint and summary of the case’s history, history, along with links to the complaint and previous decisions:

Summary of MALDEF action on behalf of plaintiff-intervenors:

Read more from the March 2010 Rural Policy Matters.