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Positive Change: Special Education Funding Bill in Colorado

colorado sb-127

Lisa Green of TherapyTravelers spoke with Colorado State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer to discuss Senate Bill 22-127.  This bill, co-sponsored by Senators Kirkmeyer and Rachel Zenzinger, would increase the per-pupil amount for all students with disabilities in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022, and require it to grow by the rate of inflation in future years.

Many educators, therapists and most importantly students have experienced the toll of limited resources based on budget restrictions and staff shortages resulting in lack of services, all of which has been exacerbated by the constraints of COVID. In Colorado, State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer and Senate Education Chair Rachel Zenzinger are taking positive steps to combat this issue, and are soon to realize $80 M in state funds that will help change the way their state funds special education. 

Bipartisan Colorado SB-127 to fund special education was recently signed and passed into law by Colorado Governor Jarod Polis on May 26, 2022. The funding was originally promised to school districts in 2006, and the bill’s adjustment for inflation would add critical funding to serve students with disabilities in Colorado. The current bill specifies Tier A students will now receive $1,750 and Tier B students will receive $4,800 (closer to the $6,000 originally promised, but never paid out more than $3,800). This is in addition to their per-pupil funding to be allocated this next fiscal year based on 21/22 designated numbers. 

“I hope today, we can start on the journey to meet our obligation to these kids and their families,” Sen. Kirkmeyer stated.  “Further, we have also indexed these amounts to align with yearly inflation, so we are not re-introducing the same legislation yearly to keep up with the cost of living.” 

Although both Senators from Colorado unequivocally advocate for education throughout the state for all Coloradans, for Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, this hits close to home.  Her grandson is challenged by a speech condition known as Apraxia. 

“Apraxia is a neurological motor-speech condition where children need assistance carrying out the complex sequenced movements that are necessary for intelligible speech” cites Alexandra Gagas, a TherapyTravelers Speech Language Pathologist currently working on assignment at Denver Public Schools. 

“I work with several districts in Colorado and know of the daily struggle administrators and educators go through in an effort to successfully nourish their student populations with the services desperately needed, while trying to provide continuity in the classroom,” said Lisa Green, Relationship Manager at TherapyTravelers. “Clearly, this is a huge step in the right direction for the students in Colorado and we at TherapyTravelers applaud Sens. Barbara Kirkmeyer and Rachel Zenzinger for their dedication on behalf of all students in need of accommodations while pursuing their academic goals. “

TherapyTravelers is a national Special Education talent and staffing solutions firms catering to school district, clinicians, and educators across the country. We look forward to keeping you up-to-date with the great work of the Senate Educational Committee along with others around the US advocating for the needs of disabled students. We’re honored to offer our support and partnership as we raise up the next generation.