Report: Small Colorado school districts embolden to split for more money

Posted at 5:37 PM, Jun 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-22 20:05:42-04

DENVER – A recently-released report by a national education advocacy group is critical of a Colorado law that apparently allowed rural Colorado school districts to break apart for more funding.

The report, published by Edbuild, spotlights rural Yuma County in eastern Colorado, where the county’s two school districts split into four smaller districts in 2000.

According to the report, the smaller districts born from the split – Idalia, Wray, Liberty and Yuma – started to get more state funding after the county’s more than 2,000 students were separated and placed into the four newly-formed districts.

Idalia and Wray each have fewer than 100 students, while Liberty and Yuma are somewhat larger, with 700-1000 students each.

State funding laws provides aid on a sliding scale to districts smaller than 5,000 students, with funding rising as enrollment drops.

“Ordinarily, the law specifies that the allocation will not increase if districts redraw boundaries to shrink their student populations, but in 1999 the Yuma County state representative pushed through a special exception that allowed districts that approved a split in the 2000 election to receive the funds,” the report reads.

A member of the East Yuma Board of Education said in the midst the secession effort: "It would have been nice if [the state] could have provided funding without splitting us, but there was no other way."

The four Yuma County minidistricts continue to receive additional funding from the state.

By 2014, Idalia had nearly $8,500 in state funding for each of its students, compared to Wray which had just $4,700. Similarly, students in Liberty each received $8,700 for their education from the state, while the district it left behind had $4,700.