AURORA | Colorado Gov. Jared Polis surprised students and teachers at Aurora Quest K-8 with a $50,000 grant during an assembly Thursday, aside from spelling out how he wants to boost state budgets for education..
Polis celebrated and highlighted the fact that the Aurora Public Schools district magnet school was one of the top 16 schools in Colorado that performs well in science. He added that students at the school performed at 50% above average.
“We want to learn your secrets because we want every school and every student in Colorado to be able to achieve in science,” Polis said.
Students’ hands shot up into the air when Polis asked if they had any suggestions for what to do with the $50,000. One student suggested that the school could buy supplies. Another suggested that they could buy books.
“I trust the principal and teachers of this building to determine exactly how best to use that, but I have no doubt that they’ll make the best use of the money to benefit kids,” Michael Giles, the superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, told The Sentinel.
Polis also announced Wednesday that he wants to spend $564.1 million on the next budget to strengthen schools. If approved by legislators, per-pupil funding would increase by an average of $705, or $15,500 for a classroom with 22 students. This woultop of last year’s budget increase of $1,019.
The governor’s proposed budget will also provide $8 million to support STEM education and enrichment programs and $5 million for work-based learning.
“With this budget, we are finally fulfilling our promise to the voters to fully fund our schools,” Polis said in a press statement released Wednesday. “I am excited to work with the (Joint Budget Committee) and the General Assembly to increase teacher pay, reduce class size, and make sure every Colorado student has access to an excellent school.”
Polis said during the assembly that the proposed budget has already been submitted to the Joint Budget Committee, but it won’t be taken up by lawmakers until next year in January. If approved, schools will see increased funding at the beginning of next school year.
“I am extremely excited and happy that the proposed budget is fully funding schools. It’s my greatest hope that it actually goes through both sides of the house and gets approved because we know that in Colorado, we are underfunded, and this is a great effort on [Polis’] part to get us to where we should be so we can serve our students as best as possible,” Giles told The Sentinel.
Other things that Polis’ proposed budget would do to support Colorado families and children include:
- Spending $38.5 million to increase food security for children through the Summer EBT program
- Spending $21.1 million on the Colorado Child Assistance Program
- Spending $10 million to ensure that more families can access Child Care Expense Credits
- Spending $4.3 million to upgrade and maintain the Universal Preschool Program’s IT system.
The governor’s proposed budget would also increase spending for renewable energy, public safety, and affordable housing.