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Wed, Nov. 20

Ducey proposal could bring new money to schools

PRESCOTT - School districts in the greater Prescott area stand to receive nearly $4.5 million annually under a proposal announced Thursday, June 4, by Gov. Doug Ducey to increase the state's per-pupil spending.

The governor announced his proposal last week, touting the projected $1.8 billion funding that would go to K-12 schools statewide.

But the change isn't something the governor can do immediately, since it requires changes to the permanent trust funding formula set in 2010, when voters passed Proposition 118 and simplified schools' funding process tied to state trust lands, a proposition Ducey created as then-state treasurer.

He's asking the state Legislature to send the proposal to voters in the 2016 general election.

"This plan is about spending more money on K-12 education in the face of budget challenges - without raising taxes on hardworking Arizonans," Ducey said in a prepared statement released Thursday. "What we've found here is a solution that will inject more resources into our K-12 schools without touching the general fund or proposing a tax increase on Arizonans. It's a solution we can all get behind. It's our money for our kids."

The state's permanent land trust endowment, a fund tied to 9.2 million acres of public lands managed by the Arizona State Land Department, now stands at $5.1 billion. Schools already receive funds from the endowment at 2.5 percent per year. The governor's proposal would increase that percentage to 10 percent for five years, then reduce it to 5 percent for the next five years.

Unchanged, the fund would reach about $7.6 billion by 2020, and it would continue to grow at a slower rate under the governor's proposal.

It amounts to between $320 million and $375 million in extra funding for schools for the first five years, and add about $300 per student to the state's approximately $3,400 per pupil spending currently, according to an analysis by the governor's staff.

For Prescott Unified School District, it could mean in the district's 2017-18 budget could grow by about $1.3 million.

Chino Valley School District stands to receive a similar amount and Humboldt Unified School District could receive about $1.7 million.

Arizona at the bottom of the list nationally in per-pupil spending - below all other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Follow Les Bowen on Twitter @NewsyLesBowen. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 1110, or 928-830-9305.

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