Colorado Supreme Court Rules Education Funding Constitutional

The eight year battle in Lobato v. State of Colorado Board of Education ended this week in a 4-2 ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court that found the state's system for financing schools was constitutional. The decision left Lobato, a 22-year old asserts that the state needs to invest more money in public education, as well as spread the funds among rich and poor districts equally, outraged and disappointed, reports Zahira Torres of The Denver Post.

"The door was slammed in the face of all the children of Colorado," Lobato said. "It makes me sad. It makes me upset. I'm mad. This is important."

This case began in 2005 in the town of San Luis Valley when Taylor Lobato joined a lawsuit to fight the state's system for financing schools when she was only in eighth grade.

Lobato, who is now a Junior at the University of Denver, believes that lawmakers need to focus on providing an adequate education in public schools. She has memories of not being able to bring home books to study for tests because there were not enough for everyone in her class.

Now that she's in college, she feels the ramifications of her lower quality education as she finds herself behind her classmates in terms of AP credits and writing ability.

However, some were surprised that the ruling was not unanimous, including Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, who fully supports the ruling.

"The legislature is given the power to create a state budget for good reason — the people's money needs to be protected from any group who would use the court system to bypass the Constitution," Cadman said in a statement.

The decision was a huge disappointment for school districts across the state according to George Welsh, superintendent for the Center School District.

All hope is not lost, but options are limited for the Lobato family and supporters. The court is unlikely to reconsider since they made it clear their decision is final.

The next step is to go to voters in November to seek an additional $1.1 billion for public schools.

"Depending on which ballot measures are chosen and what the state decides to do in the next couple of months, will let us know whether we have any future legal avenues, which I believe we will," Gebhardt said.

While the ruling affirms the constitutionality of the school finance system, it doesn't address whether there is enough funding, according to Governor John Hickenlooper. He thinks most would agree that the schools are underfunded, but a lawsuit was not the right way to increase funding.

The system leaves poor districts taxing at a higher rate than rich school districts but bringing in less money.

"I look at it as the Supreme Court saying it's OK for the children of Colorado not to have equal access to an education," said Kevin Schott, superintendent for the North Conejos School District.

05 30, 2013
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