Colorado school districts will get an additional $77 million to help students whose families are living in poverty or who are learning English under legislation introduced this week.

The one-time money would help some of the students hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic — without the state reworking its complicated school finance formula, a larger and more contentious conversation.

“It’s finally an attempt to invest resources where they can make a big difference to kids,” said Leslie Colwell of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, which has advocated for larger changes to the formula. “We would love to see a full rewrite of the school finance formula, but this is a really challenging year. It’s good to see how we can make a difference with targeted adjustments.”

The School Finance Act, scheduled for its first hearing Thursday in Senate Education Committee, also restores money for a host of grant programs that were cut last year and addresses technical fixes and policy changes on everything from teacher licensure to school governance.

One provision gives the State Board of Education the authority to review changes to what are known as innovation schools, district-run schools with charter-like autonomy, and another puts a moratorium on educational cooperatives opening brick-and-mortar schools without permission of the school district in which the campus is located.

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