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Governor’s Classrooms First Initiative Council Needs More Time

by Expect More Arizona

The Governor’s Classrooms First Initiative Council, which is working to revise Arizona’s K-12 funding formula, held what was originally intended to be its final meeting on December 2.

Instead, Council members presented 17 findings to Governor Ducey, the last of which was a request for an extension of 6 to 9 months to complete their work. The request was granted.

Expect More Arizona appreciates that both the Council and Governor Ducey recognize the magnitude of the issues related to K-12 education funding and desire to be thoughtful and thorough.

Here are several highlights among the Council’s summary of findings:

While the work is incredibly complex, the Council believes a single funding formula is achievable and has placed a priority on recommending an equitable funding structure that is simple, efficient, clear, flexible and transparent – for all audiences, including parents.

There is acknowledgement that students from low-income backgrounds face unique academic challenges which often require additional resources. However, there is not agreement yet on the inclusion of an “opportunity weight” in a revised funding formula. With a focus on outcomes, the Council did recommend a tiered achievement weight that rewards high-performing low-socioeconomic schools.

As outlined in Expect More Arizona’s funding priorities, we believe school funding – both new and existing – can be used to improve outcomes and close the achievement gap for all Arizona students.

Other highlights include the Council’s desire to learn even more about the true costs associated with serving students with special needs (including gifted and talented) and how to fund those needs appropriately. And finally, the Council recommended that policies should be identified to recruit and retain highly effective teachers. Considerations include mentoring and leadership training programs, bonus and pay mechanisms to attract teachers to hard-to-staff schools, equity and competitiveness in pay, all of which are supported by Expect More Arizona.

Over the course of the next 6 to 9 months, we hope to see the inclusion of more strategies that have been shown to be effective in closing the achievement gap, including early literacy interventions and Career and Technical Education.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Council to ensure every child receives a world-class education and to engage Arizona parents, voters, and educators in sharing their perspective. If you haven’t already done so, sign up to receive advocacy updates and opportunities to get involved.