Updated May 1, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.: #RedForEd and #MarchForOurLives supporters met with legislators and attended budget hearings on Tuesday as the Arizona Legislature works on the budget bills and school safety bills that had a first reading Monday in the House and Senate.
A partly cloudy sky and temperatures in the mid-70s are a welcome break for teachers and parents from the usually relentless Arizona sun on Day 4 of the #RedForEd teacher walkout outside the Arizona Capitol. pic.twitter.com/xKQO1KmydN
— Anne Ryman (@anneryman) May 1, 2018
Today at 8 a.m., the bills went through a second reading, a House Appropriations Committee hearing and a Senate Committee of the Whole meeting are going on currently. A Senate Appropriations Committee hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. today, but the Committee of the Whole meeting on the school safety plan continued past 1:50 p.m.
AZEdNews Podcast by Brooke Razo: #RedForEd teachers’ stories
The mandatory review period for new bills means that the earliest the Arizona Legislature can take a full vote on the budget bills and send them to the Governor is Wednesday.
Many schools remain closed Tuesday and some like Peoria Unified School District have already announced they will remain closed on Wednesday due to the number of teacher absences that have already been called in.
Some districts like Tolleson Union High School District hope that with a budget deal moving forward that students may be back in the classrooms by Thursday or Friday.
Arizona Educators United and the Arizona Education Association encouraged educators and their supporters to meet this morning with community members to discuss their concerns and stand with signs along roadways and bridges then return to the Capitol at 11 a.m. to participate in the budget process and talk with lawmakers, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.
Yesterday on the floor I discussed the unsanitary conditions teachers are facing in our schools. Let’s keep going until we get it right. #redfored #azleg https://t.co/FIYaK1DfIf pic.twitter.com/aOd8Itd1qL
— Lela Alston (@LelaAlstonAz) May 1, 2018
Legislative leadership and Gov. Doug Ducey reached a deal over the weekend on the Fiscal 2019 budget and details of the bills were made public during the First Reading of the bills on Monday.
Click here for a presentation shared with educators yesterday.
Click here for a letter to educators from the governor about the deal.
The K-12 education portion of the budget looks like this from an analysis from Arizona School Boards Association:
• Appropriates $305.7M in base support level funding for FY19
o $34.2M to put last year’s 1% pay increase into the base level
o Additional $273M in base level increases for teacher pay.
o The amount in the base level is calculated based on a 10% increase over FY2017 for teachers who qualified for last year’s raise.
• Advance appropriates $164.7M in FY20 and $174.5M in FY21 for additional teacher pay increases
• The budget will have a footnote stating that the additional base level funding is intended for teacher compensation increases, but districts will have flexibility in the allocation of that money throughout their salary schedule.
• Appropriates $100M in District Additional Assistance restoration
• Districts with fewer than 1100 students will receive a full restoration of the DAA cuts. ($5M total)
• Appropriates $105M for the required inflation adjustment at the rate of 1.77%
Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs)
• Appropriates $1.8M to fully restore the JTED funding formula for large JTEDs (more than 2000 ADM)
School Facilities Board/Infrastructure
• Appropriates $53M in building renewal grants
• Appropriates $88M in cash for new school construction
• Continues the School Facilities Board for 4 years
• Appropriates $1M in funding for gifted pupil programs
• Appropriates $5.3M for AELAS (Arizona Department of Education IT system)
• Appropriates $8M to universities
• Appropriates $2M to Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind for an early intervention program
• Appropriates $3M for behavioral health services for Medicaid eligible students o Activates a $7M match from the federal government for a total of $10M to behavioral health
Structure of Budget
• Based on 4.3% revenue growth projection ($224M)
• Appropriates $13M to keep funding the Division of Developmental Disabilities within DES at FY17 levels.
• Based on savings from the following sources:
o Adjusted AHCCCS caseload savings (no changes to eligibility, people are just using Medicaid at a lower rate than expected)
o $55M saved in tax fraud prevention from Arizona Department of Revenue Auditors o $2.8M saved in reduced private prison costs
o $18M saved by moving 1% of property tax costs to the secondary level
o Beginning FY20, $100M will be made available by a Vehicle License Tax
o $8M saved by agency reductions
▪ These are efficiencies that were already included in the Governor’s FY19 budget proposal
• Increase of $35M to AHCCCS healthcare provider assessment.
o Implements a 2.5% provider rate increase to enable hospitals to draw down increased federal match to cover increased assessment cost.
• Includes appropriations for Critical hospitals and Alzheimer’s research
Getting home after a great day at the Capitol. Met wonderful #redfored educators/parents. We shared stories, discussed the #az budget, and talked next steps for education funding. Budget bills have posted, let’s dig in! (https://t.co/XAPIoTSppY SB1520 – SB1529) pic.twitter.com/cIg5Jlq1l4 — Kate Brophy McGee (@KateMcGeeAZ) May 1, 2018
The following are highlights from the budget proposal:
- Raising teacher pay by 20 percent by 2020. The increases each year would be part of the base pay and therefore protected for the future and subject to annual inflation adjustments. The break down by school year is:
- 2017 – 1%
- 2018 – 9%
- 2019 – 5%
- 2020 – 5%
- Full restoration of $371 million in district and charter additional assistance (DAA/CAA) over the next five years. Here’s the breakdown:
- $100 million – 2018
- $168 million – 2019
- $236 million – 2020
- $303 million – 2021
- $371 million – 2022
- $8 million in one-time funding for state universities
- $53 million for school building renewal and $88 million cash funding for five new school buildings
- $3 million in state funding to leverage $7 million in federal funding for behavioral health specialists to enhance school safety
- $1.8 million for Maricopa and Pima Joint Technical Education Districts to bring them to 100% funding
Slideshow: Education supporters attend budget meetings at the Capitol by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
April 30, 2018
Teachers rally on Monday
About 10,000 educators and their supporters met legislators Monday as they returned to the capitol to work on the budget.
Education supporters also hand-delivered letters to Gov. Doug Ducey, attended House and Senate caucus meetings and listened to speakers on the lawn as the third day of the #RedForEd teacher rallies continued.
“We want a better education for our kids, that’s our priority,” said Patricia, a health assistant at an Arizona school district. “It’s not just about teacher pay raises, it’s about student funding and our support staff.”
On the capitol lawn, speakers rallied educators, parents, students and other community members who came out to support them.
“I know what we are dealing with as teachers in our classrooms, “ said Ralph Quintana, president of Arizona Federation of Teachers, who has taught for 17 years.
Quintana cited class sizes above 40 students,“a lack of resources and textbooks that are older than my kids.”
“People of the general public understand this is about a lot more than just a teachers’ raise, this is about us getting the resources that we need to effectively teach our children.”
Deb Robertson, who has taught for 21 years, said teachers are short on resources.
“I have 35 to 36 students in each of my classes on a daily basis,” Robertson said. “At times, we have upwards of 40 to 50 students in our classrooms.”
“Listen carefully Gov. Ducey and our legislators, I want you to do right by Arizona students and Arizona teachers,” Robertson said. “I stand before you a teacher who’s done accepting the status quo, who’s done accepting less, who knows that after Thursday that 49,999 other teachers are done as well.”
Danielle Cervantes, a first-grade teacher at Title 1 school, said “We are not here to get more money for ourselves. We are here for our students.”
“Our students deserve more. We go day to day without supplies that we need – glue, paper, pencils – things like that we are rationing out trying to get by,” Cervantes said.
“We everyday are spending hours and hours trying to find resources and materials and things that are updated, because our curriculum is not,” Cervantes said.
“We have to supplement daily for the things that we need that the kids deserve,” Cervantes said. “We do not have the funding to get updated curriculum, updated technology any of those things.”
Zoe Hyde, a fifth grade teacher in the Washington Elementary School District, said students deserve experienced and impassioned educators.
“In my classroom alone, I have 40 students, 12 English Language Learners, 3 gifted and 25 other students with different levels of education needs,” Hyde said. “I need my support staff. I need an upgraded curriculum.”
“My district just got Wi-Fi,” Hyde said. “We do the district testing on paper. We are the last district to do that.”
“We need resources. I am out here for my students. I love them. I am here for them. I stand for them and I stand for every single one of your kids,” Hyde said. “We’re here to create a better future for our students. That’s what they deserve. They do not deserve the bottom of the barrel.”
Congressman Raul Grijalva said, educators who have taken part in the walk-ins, walk-outs and the rallies “have elevated the issue of public education to importance again.”
“As we go forward, I think what everyone needs to take away from this is that the people most invested in the future of our state, the future of our nation, the future of our families are that teacher in the classroom and that support staff that helps that teacher,” Grijalva said.
“They are taking a stand for the future of this state, of this great nation and the communities around us, and for their families,” Grijalva said. “(They are) going back to a time in this country when we felt investing in our children, investing in the future, providing capacity and opportunity for children was the right thing to do.”
“I believe that education is the key,” Grijalva said. “It is the public institution in our society that prepares the generation to come, integrates the generation to come into the values and traditions of what this great nation is about and teaches us to live with one another. That’s what public education does.”
“You have had an eroding and dismantling of public education for over two decades now and the reckoning has come Gov. Ducey, the reckoning has come Legislature, the reckoning has come Congress led by teacher and joined by parents and families and supporters across this state,” Grijalva said.
At the rally, Fred Yamashita, the executive director of Arizona AFL-CIO, said “Our kids go to public schools and that’s why we are here today to support all of you.”
“Every school day children see and feel the impact of being short-changed and we should be ashamed of ourselves that we have let our school system deteriorate to this point that we have to have actions like these,” Yamashita said. “We will continue this fight until you get what you deserve and our students get what they deserve.”
“I’m a high school teacher from New York City. I taught in the 1990s when in New York City we had to scavenge for chalk, when our textbooks said – even though Bill Clinton was president – our textbooks said John F. Kennedy,” Weingarten said. “I see what you go through when we have to fight for resources, and it’s not right.”
“The problem is look, we care about kids, so we get exploited over and over and over again, but now what has happened in Arizona is transformational,” Weingarten said. “Now teachers and paraprofessionals and bus drivers in Arizona said enough is enough, and by their bodies coming to Phoenix you said we are going to be the human shield for our children, and that is amazing.”
“I am saying simply this: Work with us, work with the teachers, work with Democrats and Republicans. Get a deal done that yes, gets a raise but also doesn’t pit kids against teachers or kids against bus drivers,” Weingarten said.
“We need resources to lower class sizes. We need resources to get real curriculum. We need resources to fix broken chairs. We need resources to ensure that our schools are well-equipped,” Weingarten said. “That is how you make Arizona great again.”
Proposals put forward last week
Late Friday afternoon, the Governor’s Office sent out a press release saying Gov. Ducey, Senate President Steve Yarbrough and House Speaker J.D. Mesnard announced a deal on a 20 percent pay raise for Arizona teachers and that legislators would be working on the budget this week. Soon afterward, education advocates led by the Arizona Center for Economic Progress filed an initiative measure – Invest in Education Act – to increase the income tax on upper income earners to fund teacher and classified staff raises.
At the rally on Monday, David Lujan, director of The Arizona Center for Economic Progress and a former legislator, talked about the initiative.
Video courtesy Sean Logan and Nicholas Serpa/The Arizona Republic: David Lujan summarizes provisions of the Invest in Education Act:
Inside the House Caucus meetings
Inside the capitol, teachers, students and education supporters listened to Richard Stavneak, director of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee present the budget proposal to the House Republican Caucus and answer questions.
Afterwards, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said when the House Democratic Caucus finished their meeting – which was happening at the same time – then they would go to the House floor, and noted that “I anticipate that this week will be long.”
In the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Rebecca Rios, House Minority Leader, asked if the definition of teacher included educational support personnel, but Stefan Shepard, fiscal note manager with the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said it did not.
“We’re still dealing with the same definition of teacher, which is limited,” Rios said. “We may hear, ‘well, school districts can use this money a bit more flexibly as well as district additional assistance money and pay support staff,’ but, in essence, the result would be we’re not giving a 9 percent teacher pay raise, it could be four percent, it could be five percent.”
“This amount does not include the specific funding for the support staff personnel,” Shepard said. “Districts could have the have the flexibility to use some of it for the support staff personnel. They could have the flexibility to use some of the district additional assistance monies for that, but those – the line items that I mentioned – would not be sufficient to fund the 20 percent or the 9 percent, whichever year, for all the professionals at the district.”
Slideshow: Day 3 of the #RedForEd Rally (April 30, 2018) by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews