PHOENIX (January 13) – Stand for Children Arizona is encouraged by Governor Ducey’s proposed budget, which includes $114 million in strategic K-12 initiatives. The preliminary numbers show an intentional focus on education issues without any cut to current funding levels.
The budget also reflects a commitment to teachers, both in salary increases and debt relief. And it incentivizes teachers who are willing to bring their talents to the most underserved communities. This, along with a financial commitment to high performing schools in lower income communities, can only help to stem the tide of teachers fleeing our state for more pay and better treatment.
The $10 million investment to early literacy in FY2018 and $20 million in FY2019 and beyond, is also a positive step for low income schools. We appreciate the flexibility this proposal brings to public schools that can spend it on full-day kindergarten, or other programs, to increase reading proficiency. Currently, 60% of all Arizona 3rd graders can’t read at grade level.
Here is a more detailed breakdown of the Governor's education funding proposals:
- College Credit by Examination Program - $5 million – To provide incentive bonuses for teachers, districts and charters, for students who pass qualifying examinations for college credit.
- 2% Teacher Salary Increase - $13.6 million – Initial investment on a proposed five‐year phase‐in of a 2% salary increase for all teachers, to increase teacher compensation and improve teacher retention.
- Targeted New Teacher Bonuses - $6.4 million – To support teacher recruitment in high‐need districts and charters to fund signing bonuses of $1,000 for every new teacher hired by a district or charter with more than 60% free or reduced price lunch (FRL) eligibility. This is intended to provide a total of $19 million over the next 3 years.
- Results-Based Funding - $37.6 million - Provides additional resources to schools whose students score in the top 10% on AzMerit test scores, with higher rewards for schools serving low-income households as follows:
- Student population is less than 60% FRL - $225 per student.
- Student population with more than 60% FRL - $400 per student.
- All-Day Kindergarten and Early Literacy Funding - $10 million – Funding is intended to target additional support to districts and charters where more than 90% of students are eligible for free or reduced‐price lunch. Local education agencies have flexibility on expenditures but the money must be used to increase early literacy (ex. adding reading coaches or providing full‐day kindergarten). Total investment is proposed at $50 mil? by FY2020.
- Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative - $5 million - Funding to expand broadband access to many of Arizona's rural school districts and charter schools. For use with one‐time federal funding, to allow rural schools to substantially improve broadband access at little to no cost to the school.
“This budget proposal shows Governor Ducey is listening to the voter’s concerns, spelled out in the poll we released last month (attached). 77% of those polled said the state needs to spend more on K-12 education. We look forward to working with the Governor and the legislature to make sure the education priorities listed in the preliminary budget get the attention and funding they truly deserve,” said Rebecca Gau, Stand for Children Arizona Executive Director.
If this proposal holds, 70% of the FY2018 budget surplus would be spent on education. And while this budget increases funding for new public education programs, the state needs to address the hundreds of millions still not restored due to the cuts made during the Great Recession.
Rebecca Gau is available for interviews upon request. To arrange a time, call Pat McReynolds at 757-846-5732.
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