Present This Update at Your School’s Monthly PTO/PTA/FFO Meeting

 

Every PTA/PTO/FFO is permitted to have a legislative report presented at its monthly meeting.  The report must be a regular item on the agenda.  This report can include information on the legislative action on education, budgets, school board elections, overrides, bonds and propositions.  The report must be informational and cannot advocate a political position and is a great way to make sure parents and teachers are up to date on education issues that will affect them.

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Update: January 25, 2013

In this post-Prop 204 world, we plan to keep you informed about the education budget as it moves through the Legislature.  We have some key action items for you to take below to put pressure on legislative leadership.  
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In addition to following this article, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter for those last minute budget updates and/or calls to action!
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Some Good News First
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The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled this month that the Legislature must start FULLY funding inflation, as voters mandated in Prop. 301.
  (The Legislature had tried to use a loophole in the ballot language to avoid making these payments.)  This year, this would amount to $74 million or about $74 a student.  To figure out what this would mean for your district, multiply the number of students in your district by $74.  (The Legislature continued to fund inflation for charter schools, so the court ruling will not affect charter funding.)

Not surprisingly, legislative leadership wants to appeal this case to the Arizona Supreme Court even though Attorney General Tom Horne is reluctant to do so.

It’s time for the Legislature to abide by voter will and appellate court decisions.  Please tell them so and encourage Tom Horne to hold the line and not appeal. The clock is ticking; an appeal must be filed by mid-February.

Please urge Tom Horne, Senate President Andy Biggs and Speaker of the House, Andy Tobin, to save taxpayer dollars and not file a pointless appeal.  Please make these three phone calls today:

Attorney General Tom Horne: (602) 542-5025

Senate President Andy Biggs:  (602) 926-4371

Speaker of the House, Andy Tobin: (602) 926-5172

 

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Governor Brewer’s Education Budget 

Gov. Jan Brewer released her proposed education funding budget late last week.  It calls for an additional $110 in continual funding ($110 per student) and $61 million in one-time funding (mostly for building repair and construction).  For more details, click here.

This is far less than the $725 million ($725 per student) that Prop. 204 would have guaranteed.  Remember, Gov. Brewer urged voters to torpedo Prop. 204, promising that she would fight for education funding.  That clearly was an empty promise.

The problem:  There is not enough funding in the state coffers to adequately fund public education, that’s why a broad-based coalition sought a dedicated funding source through Prop. 204.  It was extremely irresponsible for Gov. Brewer, Treasurer Doug Ducey, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, business lobbyists, some charter school advocates and Republican Party operatives to fight Prop. 204, knowing that its loss would shortchange Arizona’s children and hamper our state’s ability to attract good, high-paying jobs to Arizona.

Here’s another catch to Brewer’s budget - $36 million of those funds and $18 million of existing funds would be distributed to students based on the new A-F school district rankings.  So, in these reverse Robin Hood plan, funds would be redistributed to benefit schools where students are already excelling, typically in higher-wealth areas.  Many times, schools in high-poverty areas actually need more funding to implement longer school years, fund more tutoring, etc.   Not surprisingly, this plan is being brought forward by members of the charter school industry, which can cherry-pick higher-achieving students and counsel out poor performers.  (For an interesting exposé into the Arizona charter school industry, see article below.)

Legislative leaders say there isn’t enough money to fund what Brewer is proposing, so even her low-ball numbers aren’t guaranteed.  We’ll follow this debate closely and let you know what you can do in coming weeks.

Insiders benefiting in charter deals ~ Arizona Republic, November 17, 2012

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Join the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) for a webinar on Thursday, Jan. 31, from 1:30-3 p.m. to get details on the governor’s proposed budget from John Arnold, director of the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.
This webinar is being co-hosted by ASBA and Arizona Association of School Board Officials (AASBO). Click here to register!
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School Safety
This issue hits home for all of us as we want to make our schools as safe as possible, following the tragedies in Newtown and other communities.

The Governor has allocated only $3.6 million for school-resource officers (police officers trained to work with students) in schools, amounting to only 100 officers throughout the state.  The Legislature cut funds for school resource officers, so the only guaranteed funding is from Prop. 301, a s.06-cent sales tax that expires in 2021.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix), a potential gubernatorial candidate, has proposed comprehensive legislation that funds more school resource officers, school counselors and funding for mental illness.  He would fund part of the plan by eliminating the private school tax credit that diverts public funds to private schools and the controversial school tuition organizations that manage those funds. (For related articles on tax credits for private schools in Arizona, click here.)

Former chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Rich Crandall (R-Mesa) wants to identify a permanent funding source for school resource officers so the funding won’t be subject to yearly state budget cuts.  He doesn’t think the pro-privatized education Legislature will ever do away with private school tax credits, so he’s floating an alternate funding source:  excess Clean Elections funds.

Neither supports the idea floated by Attorney General Tom Horne to arm school principals and teachers; however, Sen. Crandall said he would support allowing one school official to be armed in rural areas of Arizona.

To watch an interesting exchange between the two legislators on PBS, go to: http://www.azpbs.org/video/vidlink.php?vidId=5454


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Bills the Arizona Department of Education is tracking as of January 25, 2013
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SB1100 -  ASDB (Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind); Continuation
SB1103 - Charter schools; zoning procedures
SB1104 - Charter school pupils; JTEDs
SB1204 - Charter schools; applications; renewals; revocations
HB2047 - Pupil assessments; AIMS transition
HB2060 - School district governing boards; censure
HB2071 - ADE; operations
HB2168 - School age; increase; parental permission
HB2202 - School districts; leases
HB2403 - Teacher employment contracts; electronic signatures
HB2427 - Schools; unification; consolidation; initial meetings
HB2458 - Empowerment scholarship accounts; fraud prevention

List can be found here.
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