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How much should schools cost?

Colorado taxpayers spend more $6 billion a year on the state's approximately 800,000 K-12 students - is that enough?

Many education advocates, comparing Colorado to other states, say it isn't. Some small-government types complain it's too much.

Some recent state Department of Education estimates put the cost of an "ideal" system at about $9 billion a year.

Researchers have found it's tough to make a direct tie between more dollars and better educational achievement. Some of the highest-spending school districts in the nation have some of the worst results, like Washington, D.C.

Now, some of the people who say Colorado is too cheap with its schools will have their day in court.

In 2005, a group of parents and several school districts in the impoverished San Luis Valley sued the state, claiming the education funding system doesn't provide the "thorough and uniform" system of schools called for in the state constitution.

Two lower courts rejected the suit, but on Oct. 19 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled 4-3 ruled that the case can go forward and returned the matter to Denver District Court for a full trial.

The case is expected to take years to resolve, if it goes through a full trial and winds up back before the supreme court. If the state loses the case, it could take years more after that for the legislature to come up with a new funding plan.

Between now and then, there'll be lots of debate about what good schools cost.

See Education News Colorado for more on the court's decision.