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Instructions:

Click arrow to play animation or move time slider manually. Mouse over bubbles to see school district name, mill levy, state aid percentage and total program cost for a fiscal year. Bubbles are sized relative to a district's total-program cost. Check a district before playing animation to track its mill levy vs. state aid trend over time.


Animation: Visualizing the Downward Slide of School District Mill Levies – and More State Aid


From the early 1990s onward, the mill levy and property tax limits in the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights began to play a significant role in the funding split for Colorado's public schools between state taxes and local property taxes. Generally, due to steady growth in assessed property values statewide, school district property tax levies were forced downward by these limits.

Despite significant growth in the property tax bases of many districts, property taxes were allowed to grow at only the rate enrollment growth and inflation. Because the assessed value of many districts grew much more rapidly than their enrollments plus inflation, the levies of those districts were forced to be reduced. Some districts, with very high rates of growth in assessed value, had their levies reduced below 10 mills while they continued to enjoy increases in funding from the state.

In FY 1991-92, only one district had a levy of 10 mills or less, and it received very little state aid. In FY 2011-12, 19 districts had levies of fewer than 10 mills. Of those, 14 received at least half of their total program funding from the state, three received 15 percent to 35 percent of their funding from the state, and two received little or no funding from the state.

This is one reason why the state's General Fund is shouldering a growing burden of the cost of K-12 education in Colorado.