Classrooms First Council Ready to Take First Step Towards School Finance Overhaul

In a few weeks, Governor Doug Ducey’s Classrooms First Initiative Council will take the first, small step towards creating an equitable, efficient state school finance system that benefits all of our students.

The Council will reveal its preliminary recommendations for overhauling Arizona’s K-12 finance system on Sept. 22 after spending this summer exploring various aspects of school finance and meeting with consultants and advisors, including the Arizona Charter Schools Association and Center for Student Achievement.

When the Council convened for their first meeting in June, Gov. Ducey laid out six priorities for the group:

• Focus on what is best for students and not worry about adult concerns.
• Fund schools based on academic outcomes.
• Give flexibility to achieving schools.
• Ensure that money follows the students and the process is transparent.
• Involve individual schools and principals in the budgeting process.
• Assemble one funding formula that every school can use and understand.

Ultimately, the goals are to attract high-quality teachers, allow principals more control over school budgets, promote faster growth for our best schools and expand access for all students to attend an excellent school.

To accomplish these goals, the Council formed three separate subcommittees: (1) an Equitable Funding Structure; (2) Rewarding Student Achievement and Outcomes, and (3) Creating a Student-Centered Funding System. The Association and Center for Student Achievement are serving as technical advisors on two of these committees.

This work is vital and necessary as we look at Arizona’s projected K-12 population growth. According to the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s “Turn and Face the Strain: State-by-State Analysis” report, Arizona’s K-12 population is set to grow by more than 525,000 students, or about 50 percent, by 2030.

As these students enter the state’s workforce, it’s essential to equip our teachers and principals with the resources to facilitate student success. The Council’s initial steps will go a long way towards ensuring a bright future for our students and our state.

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