By Janice Palmer, ASBA Director of Governmental Relations & Public Affairs
The Arizona Legislature convened its 2016 session on Monday, Jan. 11. As we enter the second day of session, ASBA will use the 2016 Political Agenda to guide our advocacy efforts which is discussed, debated and approved by ASBA membership at the annual Delegate Assembly.
As your Governmental Relations Team continues to develop its lobbying and advocacy plan, it’s important to note that, as is especially the case this year, our work is year-round. This interim alone, we have been focused on our continued work with the State Board of Education as it relates to AzMERIT, school accountability, teacher and principal evaluation framework updates, serving as a consultant to the Governor’s Classrooms First Initiative Council, and reaching a negotiation settlement with both the courts and executive and legislative entities to the Proposition 301 inflation lawsuit. Each of these areas may see legislation in 2016.
Sadly, even with the inflationary lawsuit settled, our work is just beginning. The expiration of the sales tax portion of Proposition 301 will expire in 2021, unless it is reauthorized by Arizona voters. Our capital needs are grim, with years of continued capital funding cuts that have left little more than monies available for dire health and safety concerns. And this doesn’t begin to address the various cuts that K-12 education has taken since 2008, as well as two that are slated to take place in fiscal year 2017 – CTE/JTED and current year funding. Both of these items are also of paramount concern and, left unaddressed, will result in a combined $70 million additional cut and likely the diminishment of career and technical education opportunities.
We will also see the annual 200-plus bills that affect public education, with even more bills possible since it’s an election year. Your voice is critical to helping influence the decisions made by our elected leaders.
Check out our new advocacy webpage:
https://azsba.org/advocacy/, where you will find:
1) the ability to sign up for email updates; 2) convenient tools on how to contact your legislators, including draft emails on key priorities; 3) ability to sign up for the request to speak system; 4) sign up to host an advocacy training or view past presentations. All of this and more is at your fingertips; however, you can also contact Geoff Esposito, ASBA governmental relations analyst for any questions. Armed with the knowledge and tools, together, we have the opportunity to successfully implement our 2016 Political Agenda goals.
National School Choice Week Gears Up Jan 24-30, 2016
This year, ASBA is participating in National School Choice Week to celebrate the fact that district public schools continue to be the number one choice of Arizona’s students. Our advocacy efforts are focusing on three key aspects for School Choice Week. This year, a special spotlight will be put on district public schools in the media. Both ASBA and the School Choice Week communications team will be working to amplify the following efforts:
- Market your school or district programs on Friday, Jan. 29 at the Capitol beginning at 10 a.m. in support of traditional district public schools at no cost to you. As part of this collaboration with SCW, funds have been allotted to cover the costs of buses for your students, parents and teachers, as well as to support CTE and Desegregation funded programs across the state. Please email Geoff Esposito about transportation reimbursement.
- ASBA will provide all district members with a school choice marketing kit which will be located on the website by January 18.
- Please fill out the online form at schoolchoiceweek.com/schools, if your school would like to be featured on the website, or you would like to highlight your group and its support for public schools as the number one choice in Arizona.
Meet our VIP Business Partner: Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom
The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom provide grant funds to high-need school districts to cover the up-front costs often associated with the start-up and implementation of alternative breakfast models, such as to purchase equipment, for outreach efforts to parents, program promotion and other related expenses. How it works.