The AEL: Why Legislators Need to #LiftWithLove

Our local public schools in Arizona are under attack once again. Currently, the legislature has not voted to pass a one-year waiver to address the aggregate expenditure limit (AEL), and as a result, schools will be forced to cut $1.3 billion dollars on March 1st

What is the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL)?

The Arizona Public Schools Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) is a state law that limits the amount of money that public schools in Arizona can spend each year. It was passed in 1980 to set a spending cap for all public schools based on attendance and inflation (it excludes charter schools since they didn’t exist in 1980).​ The AEL is an antiquated measure that does not account for modern day school finance or the ways education has changed since 1980. The AEL is calculated each year by taking the average per-pupil spending for the previous three years, and then adjusting it for inflation and student enrollment. The AEL is then used to determine the maximum amount of money that each school district can spend in the following year – regardless of how much the state legislature and the Governor have budgeted for schools.

How does it impact our schools?

This year alone, schools across the state will lose $1.3 billion. This will mean that after March 1 districts may have to

  • Close schools
  • Fire teachers (worsening an already existing teacher shortage)
  • Fire of support staff
  • Cancel after school programs
  • Shorten the school day

To see how much the AEL will cost YOUR district if not overturned, check out this list of impacted districts.

Didn’t the state increase education

funding last year? Why is this an issue?

Last year, the Arizona state legislature passed a bipartisan budget which included historical investments in education. We were on the front lines to get this $1 billion investment added.

Education stakeholders were promised by the governor and legislators that the AEL would be fixed to allow these funds to actually be spent by schools.

Ultimately, Governor Ducey did not follow through on his commitment, and now schools are being forced to plan contingencies based on political theatre. We need our elected officials to put kids ahead of politics and do the right thing.

What can we do?

We have until March 1st to pressure our elected officials to lift the AEL for this year. Here’s what to do to help:

STEP ONE – Sign our petition asking the legislature to lift the AEL. We are delivering collected signatures for an in-person “Lift with Love” event on February 14 (Valentine’s Day) at the Arizona state capitol. We’ll be handing out valentines (the petition) to lawmakers and asking that they use their heart and think of the kids who will be affected by this archaic policy.

STEP TWO – Call your legislators (1 senator, 2 representatives) and ask them to lift the AEL immediately. Use this to determine your legislative district and then use this to find their phone number.

STEP THREE – Tell your friends! According to our 2022 annual survey, most Arizonans support lifting the AEL. The more people are aware they need to contact their legislators about this issue, the more likely it is we’ll have impact. Share this blog, share the petition, and tell everyone you know that we have until March 1 to support our local schools!


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