Focus on Research: Funding Cuts Since 2010 Exceed $4.5 billion

By Dr. Anabel Aportela, Director of Research

anabel_nocrop-200x300The graph below shows the size of cuts to Arizona school districts over the last eight years. The elimination of a source of funds is a one-time event, but the effect is not. As a result, the cumulative impact for school districts is over $737 million in FY 2017. And while the dollars are gone, the needs and services these funding sources paid for are not. Districts have continued to pay for these items by asking their local voters to support a bond or override, by asking families to bear some of the cost in the case of full-day kindergarten, or by reallocating resources from their general operating funds (or a combination). The latter option, in turn, has a significant impact of what districts can pay teachers and other staff.
Download a PDF of the graph above

  • Excess utilities was a funding formula created in the 1980s as district budgets could no longer keep up with rising energy costs. The provision allowed districts to spend outside their budget to pay for utility bills. The elimination of excess utilities funding was a part of Proposition 301.
  • Capital funding, what the state calls “District Additional Assistance” (formerly Soft Capital and Capital Outlay Revenue Limit) is the part of the formula that funds ongoing capital expenses, including technology, textbooks for high schools, and school bus purchases. The cut was made by the Legislature in order to balance the budget.


  • Full-Day Kindergarten funding was eliminated by the Legislature in order to balance the budget.
  • The cut to capital funding was extended and increased.


  • Joint Technical Education District (JTED) funding was eliminated for 9th grade students. The cut was made by the Legislature in order to balance the budget.
  • The phase-out of Career Ladder, which funded compensation and growth opportunities for teachers, began. The elimination of Career Ladder was a result of a law suit which argued the program was unconstitutional since it was not available to all school districts.
  • The cut to capital funding was extended and increased.

FY 2013-FY2015

  • The increasing phase out of Career Ladder continued.
  • The cut to capital funding was extended and reduced.


  • The cut to capital funding was extended and increased by 47 percent.
  • Funding for capital funding, comparable to that of State-sponsored charter schools, was eliminated for district sponsored charter schools. The Legislature removed districts’ authority to sponsor charter schools.

Current attention to funding for full-day kindergarten, now estimated to be about $240 to $250 million, would restore a significant portion of the cuts to school districts. However, the largest cut—that to capital funding—appears to be in place for the foreseeable future. This ongoing cut has a significant impact on school districts, particularly school districts that do not have an existing bond or capital override in place.

Data Notes: Cuts are not adjusted for inflation and do not reflect growth in student enrollment. The cut to capital funding does not include the cuts to districts that do not receive state equalization aid. This amount is estimated to be an additional $30 million in FY2017.

Countdown to election day: Seven days and counting

countdownThe general election is next Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. The last day to vote at an early voting site is Friday, November 4 at 5 p.m. Click here to get a ballot to mail in or to get information about early voting sites in your county go to voting records.

This year, 23 Arizona school districts are asking local voters to approve money for campus repairs, maintenance, improvements and construction, as well as school security – needs that state funding has been eliminated for in recent years.

Also, a large number of school districts have seats on their governing boards up for election in 15 counties across the state. Did you know that a district can register and pay for newly elected or appointed board members to attend ASBA’s New Board Member Orientation, Dec. 14?  Even though these board members have not yet been sworn in or seated, it is a legitimate expense that meets all of the legal requirements for travel and professional development. This essential training provides new board members with an understanding of their roles and responsibilities, basic school finance, Arizona’s Open Meeting Law, board ethics and so much more. 

Stay informed on how your state legislator voted on K-12 issues, download voting records for 2016. Don’t forget to view recent interviews with senate candidates in legislative districts 6, 8, 18 and 28 who shared their views in K-12 education earlier last month. We encourage you to be an informed voter for public education and use these informational videos when you cast your ballot either by mail or at the polls on November 8. Learn more,

ASBA’s Chris Thomas named Associate Executive Director

chris-thomas-aToday, ASBA would like to formally recognize Chris Thomas with a new job title, General Counsel, Associate Executive Director. This change is in response to his role in assisting with the coordination and leadership of our policy, legal, and government relations teams. Chris began at ASBA in 1999 after working for the City of Glendale and the Arizona Senate. He is a graduate of University of Arizona in 1992 and the University of Nebraska Law School in 1995. Congratulations to Chris!

District school boards encouraged to vote on ASBA bylaws

bylawsLast month, all ASBA members were mailed a packet of information regarding proposed changes to ASBA’s bylaws. On Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, member districts will receive an electronic link to vote on these changes. Online voting will remain open through 5 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2016. Prior to voting, your board must consider and vote on these changes at a regularly scheduled board meeting. This email serves as a reminder to calendar this for one of your regular board meetings between now and the close of voting on Dec. 5. All ASBA district member boards are strongly encouraged to exercise their ASBA membership rights and participate in voting.

Upcoming Events

Click this banner to register now

Click this banner to register now

Click this banner to register now

Click this banner to register now

Click this banner to register now!

Click this banner to register now!

Click this banner to register now!

Click this banner to register now!

Stay current with AZEDNEWS

Digital disruption: Social media threats and consequences for students
Weekly Podcast: Kingman volunteers, Arizona’s kid science advisor and more
Report: Low supply, high demand for teachers causes stress on schools
Alternate routes to the front of the class provide some relief