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Colorado School District Spending Requirements, Referendum J (2006)

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The Colorado School District Spending Requirements Referendum, also known as Referendum J, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Colorado as a legislatively-referred state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have required school districts spend at least 65 percent of their operational expenditures on services that directly affect student achievement.[1]

Election results

Colorado Referendum J (2006)
Defeatedd No874,15158.47%
Yes 620,790 41.53%

Election results via: Colorado State Legislative Council, Ballot History

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1][2]

Shall Colorado state law require that in each state fiscal year a school district spend at least sixty-five percent of its operational expenditures on services that directly affect student achievement?[3]


Communities For Quality Education Colorado Ballot Fund was the group supporting the measure. Supporters argued that by including all school functions in the 65% spending requirement, Referendum J recognizes that students and teachers benefit from the support provided by principals, guidance counselors, nurses, bus drivers, and many others who are outside the classroom.

They added that Referendum J establishes a standard for school district spending that can be changed in the future by the state legislature as needed, preserving the flexibility of locally-elected school boards to respond to the needs and desires of the community. The proposal would allow school boards in each district to decide whether school spending should be for teachers, counselors, classroom materials, technology, transportation, or hot lunches.[4]


Opponents argued that Referendum J is unnecessary because nearly all school districts already meet the 65% requirement. They said the proposal would create new data and budget reporting requirements for school districts without necessarily improving student achievement.

Opponents warned that Referendum J fails to account for the important differences among the 178 school districts across Colorado—differences that should be addressed by locally-elected school boards with input from parents, teachers, taxpayers, and others in the district.[4]

Campaign finance

Donors to the campaign for the measure:[5]

  • Communities for Quality Education Colorado Ballot Fund: $312,666
  • Total: $312,666

See also

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