A last-minute attempt to change school funding in Arizona progressed in the House of Representatives on Monday.
The Senate Bill 1269 is a 101-page amendment to everything that made its way through the first debate in the Legislative Committee.
Critics say the SB1269 will make cuts in low-income school districts, rural schools and cut back on programs that will retain experienced teachers.
Charter schools would expect to make a profit as this would change the school’s funding formulas for the student based on a qualifying credit score.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee has written a report on the operation of the funding:
“Replace results-based funding with achievement weights
The bill would establish new Group B weights called “achievement weights” that would allocate funding to districts and charter schools based on their letter designation assigned by the State Board of Education (SBE) in accordance with ARS § 15-241. The weights will be as follows:
- 0.049, or about $ 225 per student, for students attending schools with a grade of A and less than 50% of students are eligible for free or discounted lunches (FRPL).
- 0.091, or about $ 417 per student, for each student attending a school meeting one of the following criteria:
- Score letters and at least 50%, but less than 80% are eligible for FRPL.
- Letter B and at least 70% eligibility for FRPL
- 0.111, or about $ 509 per student, for students attending schools with a grade of A.
And with 80% or more eligibility for FRPL. “
Along with the funding model, this new overhaul will result in programs that pay more experienced teachers money.
“The bill would abolish the Teachers’ Experience Index (TEI), which allows school districts with teachers who have more than average years of teaching experience in the state to receive an increase to their base level,” the report said.
The first hearing was in committee on Monday morning at home, but only six speakers were allowed two minutes each.
Joe Thomas, present at the Arizona Education Association, was one of six who were given two minutes to speak, “and when they have only [give] “30 minutes to discuss the funding of the school for 1.1 million children, it makes me think that they are not curious enough about how this system works, and how they can improve it.”
Thomas said charter schools and large counties could not be on the same funding model, “what it really looks like is trying to move all counties to a charter school funding model that does not work for our large counties, they need to get more stability in their funding “.
Arizona Representative Kelly Butler, (D) expressed concern about the speed of the bill because she did not see the legislation until last Thursday at 4 p.m. She continued her concerns about removing the teachers’ experience index, “it lowers the teacher experience index that rural districts rely on, not just to pay their teachers but to impact their economy.”
Bill author Michelle Odell, (R) says this bill will allow for a more equal funding system for schools where children will receive the same amount for each child. “That means those counties will have enough money to take the most experienced teachers over and over again and then they take the most experienced teachers from the surrounding counties,” Odell said.