Why a lawsuit is necessary for equitable, sustainable capital funding

By Dr. Timothy Ogle, ASBA Executive Director
Published by Arizona Capitol Times

It’s good to see the dramatic support for the belief that great public schools need to be part of Arizona’s recipe for success. And we are making progress toward having the best public schools in every community. The state is now keeping pace with inflation funding and more money is being committed to meet student enrollment growth, as well as making permanent and inflation-protecting the 1.06 percent increase in teacher pay.

In addition, a plan to restore some of the long-standing capital formula cuts is now being openly discussed.

At the Arizona School Boards Association, we believe in making the complex seem simple. Our mission is to help children, not politicians, and while we recognize leadership is a tough business, we know that without strong, timely decisions, our state will continue to flounder. Working together toward the common goals of Arizona is the only path to success.

While the political “noise” surrounding the opening of the legislative session swirls, work with policymakers to turn around on the education classroom crisis will continue. Arizona schools currently have 5,371 classrooms without a qualified teacher teaching our children each day. People vote with their feet, and we know teachers are leaving this state by the day, electing to “walk” to neighboring states to continue their work. We currently pay our professional teaching staff less on average than 49 other states. If this does not define a crisis, nothing will, as we are choosing to shortchange a generation of

Seven plaintiff partners have joined ASBA in filing a lawsuit challenging the state’s past decisions regarding compliance with the ruling of the Arizona Supreme Court in Roosevelt v. Bishop that the state must provide a “general and uniform” method of providing for the building and upkeep of school facilities.

One would think a Supreme Court decision would inspire policymakers to want to correct poor historic decisions. However, this is not the case. While some might see the case as a “bargaining chip” or a lobbying strategy, the truth is the key issue in the case is quite simple. Honor the court’s directives from 1994. The capital lawsuit seeks a system that addresses school district needs in a way that is equitable, sustainable and consistent with what the Arizona Constitution explicitly requires.

The pending Proposition 301 renewal and expansion is needed immediately. School districts require predictability if they are to offer teachers additional pay. Delaying Prop. 301 action for another legislative session will only add to the elements of our crisis. To avoid drama with the development of school district budgets, which are developed 20-24 months ahead of adoption by school boards, we must have a reliable commitment for renewal and improvement of this critical voter mandate. Without it, prudent financial management will force district officials to reduce programs and people prior to 2020 to prepare for the potential loss of $640 million generated by Prop. 301 at its current rate.

Adding insult to injury, the additional State Land Trust support offered under Proposition 123 will expire in 2025, requiring the state to replace over $200 million in support of the temporary increase in trust distributions provided. And on the horizon is the November vote to repeal of the largely unpopular school voucher expansion for religious and private schools passed last year with the support of out-of-state dark money.

The Arizona School Boards Association stands ready and willing to work with every policymaker who wants to put more and adequate resources into our public schools, and to help resolve these looming funding crises. This includes Gov. Doug Ducey and his current education funding proposal. However, we would be doing our membership, consisting of every school district in Arizona, a great disservice if we do not also continue the pursuit of a permanent, equitable funding system for our state’s most valuable asset – its public schools.

Concerned about teacher shortages, underfunded schools, privatization of public schools in AZ?

Watch this two minute film with ASBA president Linda Lyon, then take action by clicking here. Use the hashtag #SpeakUp4PublicEd and share your thoughts and comments on your own social media platforms as well!

Questions on board transitions - electing a new president or do you have a vacancy?

View ASBA’s FAQ document which helps answer district questions on board transitions includes the process for a new board member-elect, oath of office, organizational meetings and more.

Special Podcast: Declining enrollment hits rural school district's budgets

By Lisa Irish, AZEdNews education reporter with Dr. Anabel Aportela, ASBA director of research

Rural school districts are experiencing declining student enrollment and with the shift to current year funding that’s hitting their budgets hard, said Dr. Anabel Aportela, director of research and analysis for Arizona School Business Officials and Arizona School Boards Association, during an interview with Lisa Irish, education reporter for Arizona Education News Service.

Current ASBA searches on the way for 2018

New searches available – Case Grande, Littlefield, Ganado, Sedona-Oak Creek, Maricopa, Mesa Public Schools PLUS more. ASBA offers a wide range of search services, from full searches for a new superintendent to advertising for an interim superintendent. View the current positions available across the state.

ASBA staff take advocacy and equity trends to the national level

ASBA is proud to have Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations selected to represent the association at NSBA’s Federal Advocacy Institute next month by participating on a panel of speakers to help school board members craft talking points for “Hill Day.”

Tracey Benson, ASBA associate executive director and Heidi Vega, director of communications will be presenting at the NSBA’s Equity Summit on framework that helps school board members dig deep into inequitable disparities that impact public schools.

Valley Leadership graduates interested in becoming school board members!

Graduates from Valley Leadership visited ASBA to learn about the process and the steps it takes to become a school board member. ASBA offers special presentations to community groups to learn more about school boardmanship. If you know of a community group that would like for an ASBA representative to come out, please contact us. Learn more here, https://azsba.org/becoming-a-board-member/

Travel across the world with ASBA's GR team for AZ legislative session updates

This time, they’re reporting from a scorching uninhabited wasteland. Tune in on Fridays, 3 p.m. for Facebook Live advocacy updates, and remember to look for the edited video on Mondays to find out where your GR Team will be reporting from next!

Did you miss the webinar?

Listen to it now, “Making Your Voice Heard During 2018 Legislative Session.”

ASBA Events

The Equity Event, March 22-23

Registration opens Monday, Jan. 29, 2017.

Click to see how are keynote speakers, learn about taking your district’s equity pulse PLUS rotate through four sessions designed to build practical knowledge and skills for equity action and impact at the board level.

Summer Leadership Institute, June 7-9

Conference and hotel registration opens Monday, April 2, 2018. We continue our summer tradition by traveling to northern Arizona at Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

AZEDNews Featured Stories