Feb 23, 2010 1:42 PM by Andy Koen

D11 weighs $30K commitment to lawsuit

The District 11 school board has called a special meeting tonight to decide whether they should chip-in nearly $30,000 in a lawsuit against the state that aims to force the legislature to increase public education funding by roughly $1 billion a year.

The suit, Lobato v. the State of Colorado was first filed back in 2005 by the public-interest law firm Childrens Voices. It claims that as a result of Colorado tax laws, the legislature is unconstitutionally under-funding the education system by nearly a $1 billion annually.

Back in October, the Colorado Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiffs that the suit's "adequate funding" language was admissible and sent the case back to district court. The court reasoned that it was their responsibility to make sure the legislature upheld its constitutional obligation to fund a "thorough and uniform" education system.

The suit is supported by the Colorado Association of School Boards and the Colorado Association of School Executives. The executive directors of both groups sent out a joint letter of support and encouraged local school boards to fund the suit.

Brad Stauffer, a spokesperson for the CASB said that districts are encouraged to contribute $1 per pupil.  The most recent count of District 11 students lists enrollment at 29,820.

Ben DeGrow of the conservative advocacy group the Independence Institute suggested that board members may be wasting taxpayers money if they support the suit which he calls "symbollic."

"Even if they get the best case scenario out of this, it's going to be years before they see any money," DeGrow said.

Board members will vote tonight on resolutions to support the suit, a budget transfer to help fund the suit, and approval to be named as a party to the suit.

D-11 currently considering $11-16 million in budget cuts as a result of statewide cuts in K-12 funding by the legislature.

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