Public School Finance

Where Does the Money Come From 

 Public School Finance: Colorado public schools receive funding from a variety of sources. However, most revenues to Colorado’s 178 school districts are provided through the Public School Finance Act of 1994 (as amended). In budget year 2011-12, this legislation provides for over $5.2 billion of funding to Colorado school districts via state taxes ($3.3 billion), local specific ownership (vehicle registration) taxes ($137.8 million), and local property taxes ($1.7 billion). Moneys provided via the Public School Finance Act of 1994 are available to each school district to fund the costs of providing public education. Follow the links below for more information.
Contact Information


The Colorado Public School Financial Transparency Act
Part 3

 22-44-301.  Short title. This part 3 shall be known and may be cited as the “Public School Financial Transparency Act”.

  22-44-302.  Legislative declaration. The general assembly finds that members of the public, as taxpayers and parents, have a strong interest in how public moneys are expended in Colorado in the pursuit of a quality education for all of Colorado’s public school students. The general assembly further finds that educators and administrators, as education innovators and stewards of these public moneys, are eager to learn from one another and evaluate best practices that may result in efficiencies and potential cost savings for their schools. While achieving these important ends through the statewide dissemination of public school financial information may have been cumbersome in the past, new technologies and the ease with which the public can access electronic information now make greater transparency in public school finances not only important but practical. Therefore, it is the intent of the general assembly to ensure public access to public school financial information through the adoption of the “Public School Financial Transparency Act”, which directs public schools to post financial information on-line, in a downloadable format, for free public access.

You can see the law here:


Time to Show the Money: Complying with Colorado’s Public School Financial Transparency Act


IP-8-2011 (October 2011)
Author: Devan Crean, Education Policy Center Research Associate
Co-author: Ben DeGrow

PDF of full Issue Paper
Scribd version of full Issue Paper

Update, November 21: The revised version of IP-8-2011 reflects a correction of both Mapleton School District’s July 2011 rating and St. Vrain Valley RE-1J’s October 2011 rating from “Almost Compliant” to “Compliant,” as well as a correction of Elizabeth School District C-1’s July and October 2011 ratings to “Compliant.” In addition, both ratings for East Central BOCES were upgraded from “Non-Compliant” to “Almost Compliant.” Appropriate changes were made to the executive summary and text, as well as to tables and appendices.

Executive Summary
Today it is more important than ever for governments to be financially transparent. The funds of public K-12 agencies in particular should be spent wisely to improve student learning. Colorado’s 2010 Public School Financial Transparency Act requires local education providers to post specified financial information online. During the summer of 2011 the Independence Institute examined the extent to which local education providers have complied with the financial transparency law by observing the substance and presentation of online financial information for each of 178 school districts, 16 BOCES and the Charter School Institute. Each website was evaluated on the requirements of the law, as well as other criteria. The findings were unsettling, as there were only nine school districts fully in compliance as of the law’s July 1, 2011, deadline, and 26 school districts fully in compliance 90 days later.

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