Given the seriousness with which the AASBO Board of Directors took our recent action to withdraw as a plaintiff in the capital funding lawsuit, we felt it was important to take this opportunity to reiterate some facts and re-emphasize our position with regard to the lawsuit.
First, let’s get to some facts. The governor’s proposed budget has major increases in education funding for FY2019. The plan will restore the $371 million in reductions of District Additional Assistance (DAA) over the next five years with $95 million being restored in the first year. This will reduce the existing DAA reduction of $352.40 per student in 2018 to $257.40 per student in 2019, a reduction of 27 percent.
These funds are in addition to $88 million for new school construction, and they increase the funding for building renewal grants to school districts, which will bring the total available up to $51.8 million in the next fiscal year. The $88 million is to go toward the issuance of Certificates of Participation (COP) to build five new schools in Chandler USD, Queen Creek USD, and Tolleson UHS.
This is money that will be included in the base funding formula and will bring an infusion of necessary funds starting on July 1, 2018. Moreover, more than 80 percent of this year’s budget spending priorities will be going to schools, and in particular, to districts. The proposed budget also adds an additional $34 million to the existing funding for the 1.06 percent teacher salary increases, making a total increase of 2 percent and puts all of that funding in the base funding formula, as well.
In addition, large JTEDs (JTEDs with over 2,000 students) will have their funding formula restored to 100 percent, eliminating the existing 95 percent funding factor.
Now, let’s get to the capital funding lawsuit. The AASBO Board of Directors met last week and debated the merits of the Governor’s plan against the immediacy of the needs in our school districts for our students and our teachers. We do not call into question the merits of the lawsuit by all plaintiff partners. And we have continued to reiterate that the need for these critical capital funding dollars and the merits of the lawsuit are separate issues. Lastly, AASBO does not debate the fact that there are responsibilities our state leaders must abide by and solutions that need to be found to address those responsibilities, a fact which we will continue to emphasize with state leaders as we seek to continue to have a positive impact on public schools in our state.
We have some work left to do with education funding in this state, but this is a big next step and will aid us in working with the governor and Legislature moving forward.
— The Arizona Association of School Business Officials represents professionals in the educational field who provide a variety of services, including accounting, finance, food and nutrition and technology.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.