Index: Education / Subcategory: K-12

Funding Per Pupil

Date updated: 05/31/2013

Colorado school funding comes from state and local sources:

The Colorado State Legislature sets funding for school districts based on October pupil counts and formulas determined by the legislature. A formula calculates a base per-pupil amount plus additional funds to recognize district-by-district variances in cost of living, personnel cost, and the size factor. Total program cost also includes additional funding for at-risk pupils. All these factors are given weight in determining district funding.

The enrollment share formula is in the form of a "J" curve providing greater funding to small districts (at the top of the curve), with mid-sized districts generally receiving the least (at the bottom of the curve) and large districts receiving a bit more (on the upswing of the curve). For example, 2012-13 per pupil funds in Ouray School District (a small, rural district in the southwest part of the state) was $11,606. Thompson School District funding (mid-sized district) was set at $6,145, while Denver was at $6,858. Mid-sized districts end up at the bottom of the curve as the formulas and weighting benefit the ends of the curve. An example of this would be a small district which receives additional funding due to the size factor and perhaps at-risk pupil count. The large districts tend to have the highest at-risk counts and receive extra funds. The mid-sized districts generally lose on both of these factors, thereby falling at the low end of the curve.

What this chart shows: Total Funding per Pupil in Colorado & Larimer County School Districts, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What this chart shows: Total Program Funding by School District, 2003-04 to 2012-13

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What this chart shows: Per Pupil Funding by Source - Colorado and Larimer County School Districts, 2012-13

*Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding error.

Data Source: Colorado Department of Education

See data table

What the above data tell us:

From 2003-04 to 2009-10, K-12 funding increased in all three school districts. Since 2009-10, average per pupil funding for the state has been cut 10.5%. Park School District's funding has been cut the least (6.4%), whereas funding for Poudre and Thompson (10.6%) has been cut more than the state average.

Approximately two-thirds of Thompson's funding for 2012-13 (66%) was provided by the state share with less than a third (31%) provided by property taxes, which was similar to the state average breakdown. Poudre School District's per pupil funding of $6,145 was nearly the same as Thompson School District ($6,146). However, the state contributed only 60% of funding for the Poudre School District, requiring 38% to be covered by property taxes. This lower percentage of state funding for Poudre School District, in comparison to Thompson School District, is a factor of the formulas set by the Legislature as described above.

As a "land rich" district, meaning there is a higher ratio of assessed value of taxable property per pupil, Park School District's property tax portion is higher than other Larimer County districts. Higher assessed property values, coupled with lower student enrollment, enable the district to cover most of its expenses with property taxes. In 2012-13, Park received no money from the State because the State Share of pupil funding is based on a district's ability to pay expenses with local funds.

Additional Information:

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Industry Standards or Target: N/A

Data Tables:

Per-Pupil Funding in Larimer County School Districts

Year

Poudre

Thompson

Park

2003-04

$5,589

$5,595

$6,145

2004-05

$5,709

$5,721

$6,287

2005-06

$5,784

$5,798

$6,359

2006-07

$5,990

$5,988

$6,596

2007-08

$6,279

$6,279

$6,902

2008-09

$6,530

$6,530

$7,162

2009-10

$6,873

$6,873

$7,551

2010-11

$6,661

$6,463

$7,093

2011-12

$6,137

$6,142

$6,950

2012-13

$6,145

$6,145

$7,068

See chart

Total Program Funding by Larimer County School District

Year

Poudre

Thompson

Park

2003-04

$131,209,413

$80,816,028

$8,189,464

2004-05

$134,500,261

$82,114,049

$8,188,933

2005-06

$137,446,348

$82,937,210

$8,105,558

2006-07

$144,846,062

$86,243,394

$8,174,785

2007-08

$154,102,848

$90,534,050

$8,283,848

2008-09

$162,806,506

$94,592,715

$8,536,148

2009-10

$171,535,350

$99,594,498

$8,880,205

2010-11

$169,838,652

$93,517,291

$8,189,752

2011-12

$164,522,640

$90,125,548

$7,827,608

2012-13

$161,882,447

$91,586,010

$7,816,313

See chart

Per Pupil Funding by Share* - Colorado & Larimer County School Districts

2012-13

Colorado

Poudre

Thompson

Park

State Share

64%

60%

66%

0%

Property Taxes

34%

38%

31%

94%

Ownership

2%

3%

2%

6%

Charter School Institute

0%

0%

0%

0%

*Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding error.

See chart