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Granting a Wish for Colorado Schools

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November 23, 2007

Denver, CO - It's the busiest shopping day of the year, and many Colorado school districts have been given new hope that they'll receive one of the items near the top of their wish lists. This week, Democratic leaders in the state General Assembly announced a plan to provide up to $1 billion over the next few decades to repair and rebuild crumbling schools. Children's advocates like Lindsay Neil with the Colorado Children's Campaign praise the plan as a great start toward ensuring the health and safety of students.

"There have been big numbers thrown out, saying the actual need is closer to $10 billion, but it's a huge step in the right direction and it's a significant enough amount of money that we will be able to have significant impact."

Neil says right now, schools receive almost no money from the state for maintenance. That's led to problems, both in rural areas with smaller tax bases and in fast-growing suburban districts that have reached their spending limits.

"They've met their statutory bonding capacity; they've met their 'TABOR' limit, and yet they're growing at such a rapid rate that they no longer can hold the number of students that they're required to serve."

The plan calls for using revenue from the School Land Trust – three million acres that was given to the state for the benefit of school children in 1876. In the past few years, the trust has seen a big increase in revenue from mineral leases, rent, and interest.

Eric Mack/John Robinson, Public News Service - CO