School Funding Reforms Begin in Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey held the first of what looks to be an extensive meeting schedule for his Classrooms First Initiative Council on Friday. The 13-member council is charged with simplifying and modernizing the current school finance code to ensure more funding for teachers and classroom instruction. A preliminary report is due to the Governor by Sept. 1 and a final draft on Dec. 31.

Governor Ducey spoke for about 10 minutes to council members, providing his vision for how Arizona’s public schools should be funded. The take away: funding should follow the student into the classroom.

“While we currently have a system where money follows the student, it is incomplete and it is not transparent and, often, by the time it gets to the school, it is not the full amount to which the student is entitled,” he said.

We agree, and as charter schools are well represented on the council, we can help ensure any proposal considers needs-based equity for all students. The Arizona Charter Schools Association and the Center for Student Achievement are also technical advisors to the Council. During the meeting, the groups provided an overview of Arizona’s current school finance system, as well as the state’s academic accountability measures.

Funding_Graphic_11x17

As you can see, Arizona’s funding system is complex, and depending on where you live or the school you attend, some students are worth-less.

Governor Ducey said he wants to simplify the K-12 funding formula, and talk about reform in the context of what is best for students, rather than the “adults in the system.”

“Let’s get one formula right and apply it to every school equitably,” he said.

Chairman Jim Swanson, President and CEO of Kitchell Corporation, created four subcommittees to delve further into the funding code:

  1. Formula Equity
  2. Formula Structure and Usage
  3. Achievement
  4. Student Centered Funding

The next meeting is on July 9 where Swanson says he plans to formalize the subcommittees.

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