Proposed funding increases good for AZ students; additional sustainable funding needed.

This post was originally published here.

The future of our state is inextricably linked to the success or failure of ALL Arizona students. Voters seems to recognize this, as our recent poll results show education remains the top issue among likely Arizona voters for the fifth consecutive year, with teacher pay and education funding among their primary concerns.

Governor Ducey’s budget proposal begins to address many important funding needs, including a number of the short-term priorities outlined in the Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding. In particular, we’re pleased to see investments in student safety, career and technical education, community colleges and universities, rural broadband, and a short-term plan to provide more support for low-performing schools. These are impactful investments given the revenue the state has today.

Yet, it is important to be clear that these investments are not enough to close the achievement gaps in Arizona and support the success of all students. A strong education sector is a valuable part of the state’s infrastructure and we’re not where we need to be.

With the broadly supported Education Progress Meter goals as our guide, we need continued, reliable investments that will significantly advance outcomes for all students and support each part of the education system – early education, K through 12, community colleges, and universities.

Expect More Arizona is eager to work together, across party lines, to support powerful investments in education with current revues and to find long-term funding solutions that support the success of every student, regardless of background, income or zip code.

Join a majority of Arizonans who want more funding for education.

Contact your elected leaders today to tell them how you feel about the budget proposal and urge them to think about the long-term success of every student and our state.
 


 

Here are the highlights of the Governor’s budget proposal.

*Note: the Senate Republicans released a budget framework late on Friday. We will provide more information on that proposal soon.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

No state funding.

Authorization to draw down $23 million in federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) dollars. This fund provides subsidies to help low-income working families and foster parents afford child care. The Department of Economic Security will use this additional funding to sustain the elimination of the waitlist and provide tiered reimbursement and technical assistance to expand high-quality child care centers.


K-12

Alternate teacher development program ($500,000) – This funding doubles investment in (for a total of $1 million) and provides a 10-year extension of a program that typically awards program funding to Teach for America – Phoenix. To receive the funding, TFA must match the state grant allocation with an equal or greater amount of private-sector funding.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) – CTE programs enjoy broad support from educators, parents, and business leaders because they help students receive real-world training and prepare them for jobs. Governor Ducey’s proposal includes $5 million to strengthen CTE by providing a $1,000 incentive payment to schools for each high school graduate who earns an approved industry certification. Priority will be placed on schools that offer programming in business, construction, health, information technology, manufacturing and transportation sectors.

College Credit by Examination Incentive ($2 million) – This funding gives an incentive bonus to teachers, school districts and charter schools whose students obtain a passing score on a qualifying examination for college, such as an Advanced Placement (AP) test. The budget also includes funding ($1 million) to waive test fees for low-income students who take examinations that qualify for college credit.

Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) – Funding for the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) to administer the ESA program, including the cost of five student and family engagement specialists who provide technical support to families applying for and participating in the ESA program. In addition, ADE will receive funding to create resources and engage in outreach about the benefits of ESAs, which is something the department already does.

Gifted Education Grant Program – The budget proposal makes permanent $1 million in funding for gifted and advanced learners.

Jobs for Arizona Graduates (JAG) $500,00 – This represents an increase of $400,000 over last year.

New School Construction – $64.5 million for new school construction is included in this year’s budget proposal. This includes the second installment of funding for seven schools that first received funding last year, as well as funding set aside for two schools that are expected to reach capacity in FY22. The recommendation also calls for a statutory change to increase the allowable cost per square foot for new school construction.

Project Rocket – This is a proposed three-year pilot program to close the achievement gap, with recurring one-time funding of $44 million. The idea is to scale up resources and support that proved successful in improving student outcomes in three school districts to a statewide model. The achievement gap funding grants will provide targeted financial support to underperforming and failing schools. C-rated schools with 60 percent or greater free and reduced-lunch status and any D- or F-rated school may opt-in to the program. Funding will be provided on a $150 per-pupil basis.

Restoration of District and Charter Additional Assistance – With his 2018 budget proposal, Governor Ducey planned to restore District and Charter Additional Assistance funding over a five year period of time. He has accelerated this plan and proposes full restoration of the $371 million beginning this year. This is ongoing funding added to the base funding formula. It is NOT new funding. However, this funding restoration has the potential to free up dollars for school districts to support other priorities.

Results-Based Funding ($34.7 million) – This funding is used to award Arizona’s highest performing schools based on the state’s A-F letter grade system. Results based funding will now be available to schools in high poverty areas that receive a “B” grade. The program will be applied as follows:

  • $400 per pupil for “A” schools that have 60 percent or greater free and reduced-price lunch status
  • $225 per pupil for “B” schools that have 60 percent or greater free and reduced-price lunch status
  • $225 per pupil for “A” Schools that have less than 60 percent free and reduced-price lunch status


School Building Improvements
– The Governor’s budget proposes $107.5 million for the Building Renewal Grant program, which provides financial assistance to school districts to repair or replace school buildings. This is $90.8 million more than the state typically appropriates.

School Safety – In response to the dramatic increase in demand for school safety personnel, the budget proposes to increase funding available for school safety grants to $70 million. This should allow for all applications deemed ‘first priority’ to be funding.

Teacher Pay – Two years ago, the Governor committed to a 20 percent pay raise over three years, which included advance appropriations for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The Governor completes this commitment with the FY21 budget proposal ($124.5 million). The increase will again be added to the base per pupil funding and therefore protected for the future and subject to annual inflation adjustments. As was the case this past year, school district and charter governing boards will define who will receive raises. Each Local Education Agency (LEA) will likely have different definitions of who receives raises, which means that teachers may receive different raises.

 

HIGHER EDUCATION

Teacher Recruitment – $15 million (same as appropriated in current FY20 budget) to continue to expand access to the Arizona Teacher’s Academy. Students majoring in education, science, technology, engineering and math are eligible. Students who participate may request tuition benefits for up to four years. The Academy will also provide students who agree to teach in a critical-need area and annual stipend of $1,000. The program will now also be open to non-resident students and community college students pursuing an advanced degree. The Governor’s budget also includes $1 million in new funding for marketing, outreach and recruitment.

Community Colleges
Full funding of STEM and Workforce Programs – With an investment of $11.1 million, the Governor’s budget proposal fully restores cuts to STEM and Workforce Programs Aid in the Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal community college districts. However, this is one-time funding.

Rural Community College Support ($10.6 in one-time funding) – Of the total, $6.5 million is allocated to 10 rural community college districts for general operating expenses and CTE programs. The remaining $4.1 million is allocated to the Arizona Commerce Authority to expand the Arizona Advanced Technological Corridor. The idea is that this investment will help ensure community college students graduate with skills that are aligned with industry needs.

Universities
“New Economy” Initiative – A $35 million increase in ongoing funding to the universities to advance Arizona’s workforce and increase Arizona’s competitiveness through a “New Economy” initiative, which proposes to boost postsecondary attainment, increase the number of graduates in high-demand fields, and reduce the time required to obtain a degree.

Support for University Research – $10 million in one-time funding for universities to pursue major competitive national research grants.

University Operating and Capital Improvements – One-time funding of $35 million (same as appropriated in current FY20 budget).


OTHER

Rural Broadband Internet Development – $10 million to triple the amount of matching grants available to rural communities to expand access to high-speed internet.

Smart Highway Corridors – $49.7 million from the general fund and $9.2 million from state highway funds for broadband infrastructure in rural transportation corridors. The Arizona Department of Transportation will use these funds to install broadband conduit along 514 miles of I-17, I-40 and I-19.

Note: The state fiscal year (FY) runs from July 1 to June 30.

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