COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- With the State legislature reconvening next week to figure out how to make up a $3.3 billion shortfall due to COVID-19, the Colorado Education Association is worried the majority of cuts will come from Colorado Public Education funding.
"The notion that schools and students will bear the brunt of the cuts needed to balance the state budget is unacceptable," says CEA president Amie Baca-Oehlert. Some districts in El Paso County are considering things like laying off staff, reducing salaries, and even freezing salaries. CEA vice president Kevin Vick says those shouldn't even be considered right now, "I think those should probably be the very, very last options."
On Wednesday CEA members met online to discuss what ideas they will present to the legislature on what should be done instead. Baca-Oehlert recommended, "We are asking that they pass an emergency tax, and eliminate unfunded mandates."
The tax they are calling for would increase the toll that those who make more than $250,000 a year would have to pay. That money would then go toward education. CEA is also calling for cuts to be done in other departments and stopping standardized testing which they say costs millions of dollars.
"The state last year spent about 24 million dollars on standardized testing," Baca-Oehlert says.
They also discussed the $500 million Governor Jared Polis has allocated from the CARES Act to go toward schools. With that, CEA is asking school districts to hold off on making any final decisions with their budget until they can speak to the legislature and find out how that money will be spread.
CEA says they plan on discussing these options with the legislature soon.