While Governor Ducey and Arizona’s K-12 schools are eager to resolve the prolonged lawsuit over voter-approved inflation funding, JTEDs’ premier Career and Technical Education programs still face extinction starting in 2017.
Lost in the confusion of differing K-12 funding proposals is that JTED budgets were permanently cut 50% to save Arizona $29 million per year while our state sits on a $650 million surplus. One simple, logical step Governor Ducey and our legislators could make now would be to overturn the language that sought to save the $29 million because that savings is clearly no longer needed.
Removing or overturning the language that will decimate JTED Career and Technical Education programs does not require taxes to be raised, nor does it require dipping into the state land trust. It doesn’t require any additional spending at all. It would maintain current JTED/CTE funding at a time when we can afford to do so, and can’t afford not to.
Governor Ducey spoke of his newest proposal in a recent statement, “It injects an additional $3.5 billion into our public schools over the next 10 years, and it permanently establishes certainty for K-12 funding.”
The Arizona School Boards Association responded to the statement, “This is money owed to schools which have been underfunded since 2008, and a step in the right direction to adequately support our students and teachers. A combination of revenues from the state general fund and trust land permanent fund will be used.”
What is not being said is there is still no plan to restore JTED funding.
To be clear:
- Arizona’s 14 JTEDs are a part of the K-12 system and as such also had inflationary funding illegally withheld since 2008. If Governor Ducey’s plan passes pending legislative tests and voter approval, the Pima County JTED will receive approximately $638,000 from the settlement.
- The budget passed by the Legislature and approved by the governor last year will close programs and leave few, if any, remaining programs without adequate materials and equipment to deliver the industry-relevant education that business and industry require of a skilled workforce.
- Our state’s three largest JTEDs have also not received 100% of their funding since 2007. The Pima County JTED, EVIT, and West-MEC only receive 95% of their funding.
- In 2011, our Legislature eliminated all funding for freshmen students enrolled in JTED programs, which resulted in 50% cut to the Pima County JTED.
Our programs are proven to help students be more successful, they are necessary for business and industry to grow, and they are vital to our State’s economy in terms of workforce development.
We must not lose sight of the need to restore CTE/JTED funding. If this is important to you, visit www.azleg.gov and contact your Legislators and the Governor today. Then do it again each month until this issue is resolved.
-Alan L. Storm is the Pima County JTED Superintendent/CEO