Weekly NewsBriefs 5/30/22 - 6/5/22

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Colorado Gov. Polis signs school finance act, other funding measures – By Erica Meltzer, Chalkbeat

Per-pupil spending will increase 6% from this year, special education funding will increase nearly 40%, more high school students will have access to free college courses, and school districts with low property wealth will get more state money under a series of education bills signed by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Thursday.

The most significant of the bills is also the most mundane. The school finance act is the only bill — other than the budget — that Colorado legislators are required to pass. It lays out how money already allocated in the budget will be distributed to schools. In recent years, lawmakers have used the school finance to set in motion complex property tax changes, give districts more money for English learners, and wade into disputes about school governance.

This year’s school finance act sets what’s known as total program, the base budget for Colorado K-12 schools, at $8.4 billion. The state is responsible for a little more than $5 billion, a 7.6% increase, and local school districts for roughly $3.3 billion, a 2.3% increase. Average per-pupil spending for 2022-23 will be $9,559, up 6% from this year, though the actual amount varies considerably by district. 

This represents a record investment by Colorado lawmakers just two years after they made drastic cuts during the depths of pandemic-related business shutdowns. 

 

NC teacher survey shows concerns about academic decline, mental health, cyberbullying – By T. Keung Hui, News and Observer

North Carolina teachers say their students have fallen behind academically and have greater social, emotional and mental health needs during the pandemic, according to a statewide survey. Nearly three-quarters of teachers reported that their students are behind academically compared to a typical school year, according to results from the 2022 N.C. Teacher Working Conditions Survey presented on Wednesday.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of teachers said their students have greater social, emotional and mental health needs than normal. “One of the biggest eye-opening pieces of the survey is the need for social-emotional learning,” said Alessandro Montanari, assistant director of district and regional support at the state Department of Public Instruction. “That is clearly evident in the responses. We see that clearly as well in all the questions that have to deal with bullying and physical conflict with students.”

The survey responses are in line with state and national reports showing that students have suffered learning loss during the pandemic. A state report released last week said students ended last school year between two to 15 months behind in reading and math.