It's official. Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday morning that the state will be appealing the judge's ruling in the Lobato v. State of Colorado education funding lawsuit.
Education News Colorado reports the Colorado State Board of Education voted 4-3 Tuesday morning to appeal the Denver District judge's ruling against the state.
"It is clear after closely reviewing the judge's decision in Lobato v. Colorado and consulting with Attorney General John Suthers that a final resolution of the constitutional and legal issues involved in the case require an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court," Hickenlooper said in a press statement.
In his statement, Hickenlooper also said that there were "more appropriate venues" for a public debate about the state's school funding and that the judge's decision gave "little practical guidance on how the state should fund a 'thorough and uniform' system of public education."
In a report by Education News Colorado however, the State Board of Education adjourned their executive session meeting without voting yet on the appeal. Their next scheduled meeting is set for Dec. 27.
Kathy Gebhardt, the executive director of Children's Voices and the lead attorney on Lobato v. State of Colorado issued a statement yesterday to the Berthoud Recorder:
We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement today that the district judge’s ruling will be appealed. We call on the legislature to act during the upcoming session as kids are continuing to go to school in failing facilities, with outdated textbooks, and in overcrowded classrooms.
Our children have been in these conditions for decades and should the legislature not act, these conditions will continue to exist. Justice delayed is education denied. We continue to invite the state to a robust discussion on how we solve this funding emergency, which will not change as long as the current funding system is in place. Significantly absent from Governor Hickenlooper’s comments is any defense of the current system.
Colorado has embarked on an ambitious reform agenda. This action assures that the state will continue to expect reform to proceed without sustainable resources.
An appeal would allow the legislature more time to keep the state's education funding system status quo, even though the funding outlook has gotten slightly more positive.
The Lobato lawsuit estimates that the state is shortchanging education by $2 to $4 billion a year, and just the day before the announcement about the state's intentions to appeal, Hickenlooper also announced that the state's revenue forecast was higher than expected. As a result, the need for an $89 million cut to K-12 education has been eliminated, and an extra $22 million could be granted to schools for enrollment increases.