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Arizona Gov. Ducey's K-12 Council Pushes Policy Shifts for Funding, Charters

An education policy council created by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey earlier this year has published 10 initial recommendations for how to change the way schools are funded in the state.

The Classrooms First Initiative Council published its initial recommendations to change the K-12 funding formula on Sept. 22. Among its proposals is to make it easier for the public to track K-12 spending, streamline the current formula, and equalize funding between traditional public schools and charter schools.

The general outlines of a new formula mooted by the council, for example, include a base per-student funding amount, different levels of grade-specific funding, and different funding levels based on whether schools qualify as rural or small schools, among other considerations. 

In conjunction, the council also envisions a state-run website through which parents could track how much state funding their child generates based on their characteristics and where they attend school.

Education funding has been a high-profile and politically tricky issue in Arizona for several years. As I wrote about earlier this year, state lawmakers and others have been dealing with the fallout from a 2013 state supreme court ruling that the state violated a ballot initiative voters approved in 2000 that required mandatory funding increases for the K-12 budget.

Ducey himself has proposed a $2.2 billion increase for schools during the next 10 years by boosting the amount of money education receives from state trust lands. (This plan would not require a tax increase.) 

Other potential changes put forward by the Classrooms First include:

  • Allow schools that receive an "A" grade from the state under Arizona's accountability system to get certain flexibility from statutes related to finances;
  • Allocate additional funding for schools with high percentages of socioeconomically disadvantaged students; and
  • Create a new funding mechanism to recruit teachers.

Read the full list of recommendations, as well as possible upcoming topics the council will discuss, below:

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