Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education - AZEdNews
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Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education

Sarah Giles, Budget Analyst For The Governor's Office Of Strategic Planning And Budgeting, Shares Details Of The Governor's FY 202 Budget Plan For Education. Photo Courtesy Office Of The Arizona Governor.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s budget proposal released today show more funds for school repairs, counselors, career education and scholarships for community college and university students who promise to teach in AZ schools to ease the teacher shortage.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education GovDuceysBudgetProposalDetailsHP
Details of Gov. Doug Ducey’s FY 2020 Budget Proposal

“The governor said in his State of the State address on Monday, that his budget will fully fund the priorities that we know are important – the things that matter – public safety, child safety, education above and beyond inflation,” said Matt Gress, director of strategic planning and budgeting for the Governor’s Office.

“In fact, we are making a historic investment into the state’s rainy day fund, preserving Arizona’s fiscal future, ready to take on whatever unexpected economic event might happen, so that we can recover faster, stronger than ever before,” Gress said.

Office of the Arizona Governor video: Details of Gov. Doug Ducey’s FY 2020 Budget Proposal

Teacher pay increase, additional assistance restoration

Fifty percent of all the governor’s initiatives and 70 percent of all new spending in fiscal year 2020 is dedicated to K-12 education and higher education, said Sarah Giles, budget analyst for the governor’s office of strategic planning and budgeting.

“Education is the key to unlocking the potential of individuals and communities in our state and Governor Ducey’s budget proposal begins to address many important funding needs,” said Christine M. Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “His proposal invests in all levels of education – early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary – to help improve outcomes for students and strengthen Arizona communities.”

“We look forward to working with Governor Ducey and other state leaders to tackle the investment priorities outlined in the Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding in order to reach the Arizona Education Progress Meter goals and ensure every student receives an excellent education every step of the way,” Thompson said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Sarah-Giles-2HP
Sarah Giles, budget analyst for the governor’s office of strategic planning and budgeting, shares details of the governor’s FY 202 budget plan for education. Photo courtesy Office of the Arizona Governor.

“63% of the new funding is for K-12,” Giles said. “The majority of that will be used to fund the next round of the teacher pay package. Another large portion will support basic state aid to account for a 4.8 percent enrollment growth increase and a 2 percent inflation adjustment. There’s also a significant amount of money for school facilities.”

The governor’s budget proposal includes an ongoing commitment to raise teacher salaries by 20 percent by 2020 and continuing to phase the partial restoration of additional assistance, Giles said.

“The fiscal year 2020 budget includes an additional $165 million for teacher salaries in the baseline (funding), which means that this funding is permanent and will be adjusted annually for inflation,” Giles said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Sarah-Raising-teacher-pay
Budget analyst Sarah Giles outlines details of the education portion of the governor’s budget proposal.

Last year, voters sent a clear message to leaders to do something about the teacher shortage, per-pupil spending among the lowest in the nation, and schools in need of vital repairs, said Kathy Hoffman, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“With the 20×2020 plan, we have made steps in the right direction and I’m committed to finding innovative ways to recruit and retain our educators across all fields,” Hoffman said. “We must guarantee competitive pay for all educators, including our art, music and special education teachers, as well as support and classified staff.”

The fiscal 2019 budget established a five-year plan to restore $372 million suspended from basic state aid for additional assistance to Arizona’s K-12 public schools, and the Governor’s budget proposal includes the second installment of $68 million in fiscal year 2020, Giles said.

Additional assistance is flexible funding that can be used outside of typical maintenance and operation costs on things like textbooks, curriculum or technology.

“At full implementation, the cumulative impact of these initiatives is over $1 billion in additional and permanent funding for education,” Giles said.

Results based funding to be based on A-F letter grades

Results-based funding was first introduced in fiscal year 2018 to reward schools for high student achievement and to encourage replication and expansion of high performing schools.

“In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, funding was distributed based on schools that scored in the top 10 percent of the statewide assessment AzMERIT,” Giles said. “Nearly 300 schools in each fiscal year received about $40 million.”

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Sarah-Expanding-Results-based-funding

“In fiscal year 2020, the executive will use the A-F letter grade system instead of AzMERIT to distribute results based funding,” Giles said. “The letter grades include additional measures of school performance such as student growth and college readiness in addition to proficiency on the statewide assessment.”

Schools that receive an A letter grade will qualify for results-based funding under the current formula, but schools with B letter grades and also have 60 percent or higher free- and reduced-lunch participation and a $60 million increase in funding would support this expansion, Giles said.

That means that “an estimated 951 schools will receive nearly $100 million in additional financial support in fiscal year 2020,” Giles said.

“We are fortunate the Governor recognizes the great gains happening in Arizona classrooms. This proposed budget increases opportunities for students in low-income neighborhoods with the expansion of Results-Based Funding for low-income ‘B’-rated schools,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, executive director of A for Arizona.

“Closing the achievement gap is a goal we all share. This funding makes it possible for excellent schools to reach more students in poverty, with transformative effects for more families and communities,” Gullickson said.

School safety remains a priority

The Safe Arizona Schools plan released in March 2018 would invest more in mental and behavioral health resources as well as increasing the number of school resource officers on campus, Giles said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Sarah-Safe-schools-plan
Sarah Giles outlines the details of the Governor’s Safe Arizona Schools plan

“In the most recent grant cycle for school resource officers, 203 schools applied for funding and only 114 received an officer due to limited funding availability,” Giles said. “The executive budget provides $9 million to provide for officers at the remaining 89 schools.”

The proposal also includes $6 million to establish a new school safety grant program that awards school counselors or social workers in a manner similar to the school resource officer grant program,” Giles said. “The fiscal year 2021 budget will double funding for the grant program and further expand access to these critical resources.”

“As a result of this investment, we estimate that school counselor case loads could decrease by up to 17 percent,” Giles said.

“The governor’s proposed budget also invests in more school counselors and I applaud that decision,” Hoffman said. “Well-trained and knowledgeable mental health experts are indispensable to a healthy and safe school environment. If we work together, we can find solutions to the challenges we face.”

Increased investment in career and technical education

The governor’s budget proposal includes $10 million to develop a career and technical education incentive program, further aligning Arizona’s K-12 education with growing workforce needs, Giles said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Sarah-CTE-Incentives
Sara Giles outlines the details of the proposed expansion of career and technical education funding.

“The Arizona Commerce Authority will identify critical industry sectors and certificates to be a part of this program,” Giles said. “A $1,000 incentive payment per pupil will be paid to schools that graduate students with these approved credentials.”

So far the Arizona Commerce Authority has indicated that these critical areas include manufacturing, business and financial services, construction and healthcare.

Accountability for charter schools

The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools grants charter status and oversees more than 500 charter schools statewide and almost 17 percent of Arizona students attend charter schools, Giles said.

The governor’s budget proposal provides $786,000 to hire 10 additional staff members to conduct more frequent school site visits to address operational, academic and financial performance concerns.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Charter-Accountability
Sarah Giles outlines the charter schools initiative details.

“The board is currently finalizing their financial performance framework that will be used to determine a new intervention process for schools that do not meet financial performance standards to include site visits and additional oversight of financial management practices,” Giles said.

This additional funding means the board will be able to inspect 65 percent of charters compared to an estimated 23 percent under current staffing levels, Giles said.

Investment in school facilities board

School building renewal requests have more than tripled since fiscal year 2013, said Bret Cloninger, assistant director of strategic planning and budgeting.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Bret-Building-renewal
Bret Cloninger, assistant director of strategic planning and budgeting, provides details about repair and new building requests to the school facilities board.

These needs are driven in large part by aging school building systems, Cloninger said.

“In the six years after the passage of Students First in 1998, the state completed $1.3 billion in emergency deficiency corrections projects, which were focused on bringing building systems up to square footage or structural quality standards,” Cloninger said.

Also from 1999 to 2004, $934 million in new schools were completed, Cloninger said.

“It’s now 15 closing on 20 years later and these school building systems, including expensive items such as roofs and HVAC systems are aging and many are now coming for significant repair or replacement,” Cloninger said.

School building renewal requests for fiscal 2019 are approaching the fiscal 2019 appropriation which is $51 million. To meet school building renewal needs in fiscal year 2019 the governor’s budget plan adds $25 million, which brings the total for the year to $76 million, Cloninger said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Bret-School-Buidlign-renewal-chart

“To meet school building renewal needs in fiscal year 2020, the executive budget includes $63 million over the baseline building renewal amount of $17 million, which represents a total $80 million recommendation for building renewal in fiscal year 2020,” Cloninger said.

In fiscal year 2013, the Arizona Legislature changed the standards for constructing new schools from constructing them if needed in three years to constructing them only if needed in the current year, Cloninger said.

This meant overcrowded schools could have students in improvised space for as long as three years while a new school was being designed, appropriated and constructed, Cloninger said.

The governor’s plan returns to constructing new schools if they will be needed in the next three years and estimates that the one-time amount needed to catch up will be $99 million on top of the current law’s need for $92 million for the construction of new or expanded schools, Cloninger said.

More for colleges and universities

The budget proposal also includes $104 million or 7 percent of all new funding in fiscal year 2020 for higher education, Giles said.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Kwesi-Public-Universities
Kwesi Pasley, a budget analyst with the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, presents details on University funding.

In addition to $30 million to hold universities financially harmless for the health insurance trust fund increase, there’s also money for capital and operational expenditures as well as expanding the success of the Teachers Academy, Giles said.

There’s additional funding for career and technical education at community colleges, Giles said.

Plans for Arizona Teachers Academy

To address the critical teacher shortage that Arizona is facing and create more teachers quickly the Governor’s budget proposal includes $21 million to expand the Arizona Teachers Academy, said Kwesi Pasley, a budget analyst with the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.

Gov’s budget details: More funds for school repairs, counselors, career education Kwesi-Teacher-academy
Kwesi Pasley, a budget analyst with the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, presents details on increasing funding for the Arizona Teachers Academy.

In 2017, Gov. Ducey and the state’s three public universities launched the Arizona Teachers Academy to help students become teachers and work in Arizona schools to ease the teacher shortage.

“In fiscal year 2020, the Academy will offer expanded eligibility to include not just education majors, but students majoring in STEM subjects,” Pasley said. “The enhanced academy also provides four-years of tuition benefits and incentivizes students to teach in a critical need area after graduation by offering them a $1,000 stipend while in school and invites both non-resident and community college post-baccalaureate college students to participate.”

Through this investment, more than 3,400 university students and 1,100 community college students are expected to be able to participate, Pasley said.

Funding for career pathways at community colleges

Community college provide ways to earn certification in-demand, high-end skills, Pasley said.

“The aviation technology program at Pima Community College is one of only two aviation technician training programs in the state,” Pasley said. “With the program providing both full-time and dual-enrollment students the opportunity to participate, the executive budget includes a $20 million investment to double the student capacity and fill the labor demands in the region.”

In addition, the Maricopa County Community College District offers a number of healthcare training facilities in Maricopa County including the Center for Nursing Excellence at Phoenix College, the state’s $5.8 million investment will allow for MCCCD to create training programs for six new specialty areas including operating room, emergency care, telemetry, oncology, ICU and home care specialists, Pasley said.

“With these areas expected to grow on average 24 percent according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics by 2024, this investment will ensure that enough health care professionals are being credentialed to meet the demands of this growing sector,” Pasley said.

“Today, Governor Doug Ducey proposed a budget that includes a $6 million investment in healthcare training programs for the Maricopa Community Colleges,” said Maria Harper-Marinick, chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges.

“The Governor’s budget also makes the Maricopa Community Colleges teaching certification students eligible for $21 million proposed state investment for tuition waivers to support the Arizona Teachers Academy,” Harper-Marinick said. “The Governor’s proposal is a good step forward for Maricopa and our community.”

“We are pleased to have Governor Ducey’s support and commitment to building these programs,” Harper-Marinick said. “As the largest job training provider in the state, MCCCD maintains a critical role in filling employment and skills gaps and in helping to bring employers innovative solutions to meet their needs.”

“We look forward to the continued collaboration with industry and state leaders to strengthen Arizona’s economy by preparing students for a successful place in the workforce of today and tomorrow,” Harper-Marinick said.

The Governor’s proposal also includes $35 million to support universities operations and maintenance costs associated with Arizona students, Pasley said.

While the state previously provided educational benefits to Arizona National Guard members, these benefits were halted due to the Great Recession in 2011, Pasley said.

“Currently, Arizona is the only state in the nation that does not offer any form of tuition assistance to members of it’s National Guard,” Pasley said.

Continuing education is critical to advancement and promotion in all branches of the armed services, with this in mind, the executive budget includes $1 million for a National Guard tuition reimbursement program, Pasley said.

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