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Policy and Funding

20-21 School Year - Policy and Funding

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We know that implementing the new protocols and routines associated with COVID-19 may raise challenges with budgets and existing policies. This is further complicated from a decline in state revenue and fewer resources in the state budget, resulting in the need to use the new federal funds to support fall planning implementation. Existing education policies may also need to be adjusted or temporarily suspended over the coming year as well, if implementation is not feasible during this time.


A number of new funds are available to support implementation, including:

  • Leveraging Funds for Student Success Guidance
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (CARES Act)
    • Colorado has been allocated $120,993,782 from the ESSER Fund. At least 90% of funding will go to LEAs based on Title 1 shares.
      • LEAs may use funds for:
        • Any activity authorized under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, or McKinney-Vento, and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
        • Other activities to help with the response to COVID-19, including preparedness and response efforts, sanitation, professional development, distance learning, and others.
        • The department may reserve up to 10% of funds to subgrant to districts or state contracts for emergency needs to respond to the coronavirus as determined by the SEA and may use some funds for administration (0.5%).
    • ESSER Application  - Applications will be reviewed as they are received, with an anticipated 1 week turnaround time.
  • CARES Act Overview page with each funding stream and FAQ linked
  • CARES Act Expenditure Types vs Funding Sources
    • ​​This contains comprehensive guidance as well as FAQs about allowable expenditure types with topics ranging from technology to professional development.
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
    • The GEER fund provides $44 million for P-12 and higher education in Colorado. On June 4th the Governor announced his plans for the funds.
  • Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF)
  • TABOR 3% Emergency Reserve
    • Pursuant to TABOR, districts can use the 3% Emergency Reserve fund "for declared emergencies only” Art. X, § 20 (5).
    • Districts and other political subdivisions have the authority to declare an emergency for purposes of accessing TABOR reserves.
    • The governor has declared a state of emergency under § 24-33.5-704 (4), C.R.S., for responding to COVID-19, which is sufficient for the State to access its own emergency reserve under § 24-77-104, C.R.S.
    • Whether it is sufficient for a district to access its TABOR reserve is a question of district fiscal policy.
  • Colorado ESEA CARES Act Fiscal Waiver - In addition to the assessment, accountability and school improvement waivers under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), CDE received approval from the Secretary of Education for waivers of the following fiscal provisions.
    • Section 1127(b) of Title I, Part A of the ESEA so that your State educational agency (SEA) may waive, more than once every three years, if necessary, the 15 percent carryover limitation in ESEA section 1127(a) for fiscal year (FY) 2019 Title I, Part A funds.
    • Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) to extend the period of availability of FY 2018 funds for programs in which your SEA participates under its approved consolidated State plan until September 30, 2021.
    • Section 4106(d) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA related to local educational agency (LEA) needs assessments for the 2019-2020 school year.
    • Section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA with respect to content-area spending requirements for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds.
    • Section 4109(b) of Title IV, Part A of the ESEA with respect to the spending limitation for technology infrastructure for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds.
    • Section 8101(42) of the ESEA, which defines “professional development,” for activities funded for the 2019-2020 school year.
    • Transferring State- and Local-Level Funds under Section 5103 of the ESEA (PDF)
      • This document reminds states and districts of the ability to transfer some or all of your funds under certain ESEA programs into other programs and the process for transferring funds.
    • Repurposing Federal Equipment and Supplies to Combat COVID-19 (PDF)
      • This document outlines temporary flexibility for repurposing existing equipment and supplies to meet the immediate needs due to the COVID-19 national pandemic.

Additionally, there are existing funding options for formula and competitive grants that districts can leverage to meet the needs of students, including READ funds, Title 1, 21st Century, and other grants.

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Certain policy implementation may be impacted by COVID-19. In the spring of 2020, it became apparent with the timing and suspension of in-person learning, that administering the state assessments would not be feasible. As such, 2020 assessments and accountability frameworks were suspended. As the realities for the coming school year become more apparent, policy decisions will continue to be made by the legislature, governor, state board of education, or commissioner, as applicable. Some of the policies that may need adjustments are listed below:


Required: An entity is legally bound to do, as required by federal or state law, executive orders, state/local public health orders, state board rule, or in the case of waivers, expectations that the state board requires in exchange for waiving a state law or rule. Executive orders and public health orders could change over the next months as we learn more about COVID-19 and receive updated epidemiological data.

Instructional Time Requirements

View the Resource Guides on our Pupil Count webpage. These contain information on instructional hours and October Count.


Required: An entity is legally bound to do, as required by federal or state law, executive orders, state/local public health orders, state board rule, or in the case of waivers, expectations that the state board requires in exchange for waiving a state law or rule. Executive orders and public health orders could change over the next months as we learn more about COVID-19 and receive updated epidemiological data.

October Student Count

CDE is investigating the flexibility and authority involved with the October Student Count (C.R.S. 22-54-103(10.5)(a)),, and if any adjustments may be needed if in-person instruction is suspended in October 2020. We currently believe that there is sufficient flexibility to make adjustments based on the possible scenarios for fall, but are continuing to investigate this as we talk with stakeholders.

  • Attendance/Pupil Enrollment Count Day: Under current requirements, students must be present on the pupil enrollment count date or must be present at least once prior to the count date during the current school year and present at least once within 30 days of the count date. CDE will provide additional guidance on acceptable attendance criteria, which includes but is not limited to in-person classroom attendance, remote/video classroom attendance, login to online platform, pick-up or drop-off of instructional packets, and email or phone correspondence with instructors.

Consideration: Ideas to think about as you make your own decisions.

Accountability Considerations

Accountability policy decisions are an important topic, especially in the evolving COVID environment. Accountability decisions are determined by the legislature, not CDE or the State Board, although the Board may weigh in on their perspectives. Accountability was waived in the 2019-2020 school year from a temporary Governor’s Executive Order due to the State of Emergency, and since the legislature is now back, they will be involved in these decisions moving forward.

  • Host district and school accountability committees
  • Leverage improvement planning efforts within the district and school UIP
  • Others as they arise (assessment, educator effectiveness)