Colorado school districts could get funding to help with immigrant student costs

The Joint Budget Committee unanimously approved a draft bill on Friday that would distribute $24 million to districts statewide.
Posted at 10:41 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-21 14:48:16-04

DENVER — Colorado's Joint Budget Committee unanimously approved a draft bill Friday that would secure $24 million in extra funding for schoolsthat are taking in new immigrant students.

State Representative Emily Sirota said she's heard the cry for help from school staff and teachers.

"For them to be able to hire additional paraprofessionals, additional teachers provide the additional services that are needed that are unexpected, were unexpected," said Sirota.

Denver Public Schools has received over 3,400 immigrant students since July. At least 2,000 of those students arrived after the October enrollment count, causing the district to miss out on $17.5 million in funding, according to a DPS spokesperson.

Now the School Funding 2023-24 for New Arrival Students bill could help districts deal with that unexpected influx of newcomers in classrooms.

If the bill becomes law, $24 million would be distributed by May 31 to districts that have enrolled "new arrival students" or students who moved to the United States less than a year ago, are not proficient in English or have limited English proficiency, and whose enrollment in Colorado public school is the student's first school enrollment in the United States. The money would come from the state education fund after property taxes came in higher than anticipated, according to Sirota.

The payments would be given out based on a tiered system. School districts with the most immigrant students would get the most money.

  • Between 1-5 students = $15,000
  • Between 6-10 students = $30,000
  • Between 11-30 students = $75,000
  • Between 31-50 students = $125,000
  • Between 51-100 students = $200,000
  • Between 101-200 students = $400,000
  • Between 201-500 students = $550,000
  • 501+ students = $750,000

Districts whose enrollment increased because of these new students could get an additional $4,500 per student.
"I think that the additional support will go a long way to helping all the kids in Colorado schools," said Sirota.

"Denver Public Schools is dedicated to providing educational and wrap-around support to all of our students, including those who are new to our country. We are very grateful to our state legislators who are working to provide additional financial assistance to all of the Colorado school districts that are engaged in this work," a DPS spokesperson said in a statement.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Governor Jared Polis said funding school districts is a top priority.

“Ensuring that school districts receive the funding they need to educate students where they are currently attending school has been a top priority since day one. Governor Polis is working with the legislature on a proposal to provide additional funding for school districts that have new arrivals after the October count date," a spokesperson said.

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