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Governor's Budget Proposal Will Widen Inequities in School Funding

On January 14, 2022, Governor Ducey released his FY23 Executive Budget Proposal. Below is an analysis of the K-12 Education Budget.
Published: 01/14/2022

Key Takeaways

  1. No new money to help schools safely continue in-person instruction. Nothing to address our state's crushing teacher shortage.
  2. Prioritizes high-stakes testing over strengthening instruction and support for students and families in communities most traumatized by the pandemic. Focusing on the idea that students should be forced to take any sort of standardized test this year is incomprehensible.
  3. Fails to address the impending $1 billion in school budget cuts if the legislature does not take action on the constitutional aggregate expenditure limit by March 1.

Ongoing Formula-Driven Increases

These increases are tied funding formulas and happen regardless of the governor's proposal:

  • Increases ongoing funding by 2% for inflation - $143.7M
  • Expected student growth of 1.6%  - $136.9M

Test-Based Funding

  • Increase of $60.8M in so-called "Results-Based Funding" program which ties student test scores to school funding. This is money that should go towards funding closing opportunity gaps, not driving further inequities between our communities.
    • Note: This program provides funding to schools that score in the top percentiles for the statewide assessment and already receives $68.6M. The added funding will bring the total to $129.4M annually. The governor also proposes changing the program to provide funding based on school letter grades. All A-rated schools will receive funding as well as B-rated schools where 60% or more of their students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
    • A schools with 60%+ FRPL: $429/pupil
    • A schools with under 60% FRPL and B schools with 60%+FPRL: $241/pupil

Operation Excellence

Project Rocket has been renamed Operation Excellence this year. This proposal would require districts to jump through hoops for a temporary band aid solution. Given the impact of the pandemic on our schools, the legislature should be looking at permanent funding solutions rather than test-based grant programs that could leave schools without funding later down the road. 

  • $58M total
  • All D or F rated schools required to participate and will be designated “Operation Excellence” schools
  • C schools with 60% or more FRPL allowed to participate
  • School-led improvement model
    • Receive $150 per pupil for 3 years (total of $58M each year)
    • Implement evidence-based strategies to improve attainment
    • Schools still receiving a D or F rating will be subject to action by SBE
  • Partner-led improvement model
    • Arizona achievement districts will facilitate partnerships
    • Funded through federal recovery dollars

Transportation Grants for Some

  • $20M for the second year of School Transportation Modernization grants to drive more students out of our public schools, further draining public education funding.
    • Note: The program was established with a combination of state and federal funds.

COVID Summer Camp

  • Summer math, reading, and American civics
  • Leverage partnerships between high-achieving schools and community organization
  • $100M in federal funds

School Facilities Board

  • Increases funding by $183.3M to SFB for building renewal grants

Open Enrollment Promotion

  • $150,000 Taxpayer-funded marketing campaign to promote open enrollment in Arizona schools. This is money that would be better spend in the classroom than on billboards.

Civics Excellence Incentive Bonus Program

  • $5M total for more tests for students
  • Payments to schools for each student that scores 95% or higher on the American Civics Assessment
    • $450 per pupil for school with 50% or greater FRPL
    • $400 per pupil for under 50% FRPL
  • 50% of the incentive bonus must go to the classroom teacher of the student and the remainder going toward professional development or student instructional support.
    • Note: Similar to the college credit by Examination Incentive Program in pay structure

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

With more than 20,000 members, the Arizona Education Association (AEA) is the largest professional association for public school employees in Arizona. AEA members are teachers, community college professors, counselors, speech pathologists, bus drivers, secretaries, retired educators and student teachers and they belong to more than 150 local affiliates across Arizona.