Thursday, October 29, 2015

Arizona Education Funding: This Isn't Over

At the Capitol, right now, legislators are considering a controversial education funding proposal that could affect school spending for generations.

The governor called for a special session to debate the proposed K-12 education funding lawsuit settlement. The details of the deal are complex. The plaintiffs have agreed to receive just over 70 percent of the court-ordered payment for inflation funding. This is not enough money to substantially affect our bottom-of-the-barrel national ranking on per pupil funding. And schools would have to wait until next summer to get the money when there are other options that would provide immediate funding.

While this may be the best deal the organizations involved in the lawsuit could get, it is not enough to fix the funding crisis in our schools. If the deal gets legislative approval, Arizona schools would have to make do with just over 70 percent of what the court says they are owed.  And 70 percent is a C average. Our kids deserve better than that.

This settlement absolutely cannot be the final word on the matter. There is money in the general fund that could go to schools now and could be used to protect resources for future generations. Schools have weathered years of budget cuts which stripped away billions of dollars. We have an obligation and a responsibility to find a long-term funding plan for education. Getting schools the resources needed to prepare Arizona kids for 21st-century jobs and a global economy must remain an ongoing priority.

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