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Sun, Nov. 17

Editorial: Staying educated about education

It seems things are finally moving along for Arizona education reform. Unfortunately, there are so many proposals out there now, it's hard to keep them straight.

The Associated Press put together a nifty "proposals at-a-glance" that I share with you below.

You can also learn more about the effort to modernize Arizona's system this week. Governor Doug Ducey's Classrooms First Initiative Council will be making a stop in Yavapai County Thursday. The council's job is to modernize the school finance code to ensure adequate funding is made available for teachers and classroom instruction, according to the event press release.

"The Classrooms First Council is working hard to fulfill the charge of the governor by working in the most transparent and inclusive manner possible for the good of all Arizonans," said council member Tim Carter, Yavapai County School Superintendent. "It is our hope that by inviting stakeholder groups and individuals to join our meetings in Prescott on October 8th and in Tucson on October 29th, it will make the process of receiving feedback even more accessible for the public and more welcoming of all views."

Join in the conversation Thursday, Oct. 8:

WHO: Classrooms First Initiative Council

WHAT: Working Group Meetings 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Full Council Meeting 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Yavapai County Education Service Agency

Giffin/Taylor Training Room, 2970 Centerpointe East Drive, Prescott

For more information, call the office of Tim Carter, Yavapai County School Superintendent at (928) 771-3326.

DUCEY'S LAND TRUST PLAN

The Republican governor has proposed tapping the principal in the state's permanent land trust endowment. Right now, the $5.1 billion trust fund provides about $70 million a year in K-12 school funding. His plan:

- Adds more than $2.2 billion into schools over the next 10 years.

- Boosts payouts from 2.5 percent of annual trust valuation per year to 10 percent of the trust's total value for five years, dropping to 5 percent for the next five years.

- Puts between $320 million and $375 million a year in new funding into schools for five years.

- Requires Legislative and voter approval of a constitutional amendment, and possible changes to federal law.

REPUBLICAN LEGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP PLAN

House Speaker David Gowan and Senate President Andy Biggs are proposing four key ways to increase spending. Their plan:

- Increases school funding by $5 billion over 10 years.

- Boosts payout from the land trust by $170 million to $200 million a year, substantially less than the

governor's plan.

- Continues $74 million in inflation funding provided this year and boosts it annually for inflation.

- Adds $100 million in additional general funding, also inflation-adjusted.

- Uses some tobacco tax money from the state early childhood education fund, First Things First.

- Requires voter approval for the trust land and First Things First changes.

DEMOCRATIC LEAGISLATIVE LEADERSHIP PLAN

Democrats propose boosting school funding using part of the state's current $325 million surplus and capping a tax credit. Their plan:

- Increases funding by $3.8 billion over 10 years.

- Continues $74 million in extra inflation funding in current budget.

- Adds $262 million in the current year and larger amounts in coming years using general fund surplus.

- Freezes corporate private school donations to $50 million year, stopping an annual 20 percent increase.

- Allows additional money from a trust land proposal after new funding is in place.

SUPERINTENDENT DOUGLAS' PLAN

Douglas' plan uses excess cash and land trust money. Her plan:

- Boosts school funding by $4 billion over 10 years.

- Uses $400 million from general fund surplus and rainy day fund this year and next.

- Uses a combination of general fund money and trust land cash in subsequent years, if approved by voters.

One thing is obvious, there is no easy fix to Arizona's education issues. Even straightening out a budget is going to be a mess. However, it will all be worth it one day. Keep yourself educated about education. Don't be surprised when one of these plans is enacted - know what's coming so you are prepared to support the fight.

- Robin Layton, editor

Follow Robin Layton on Twitter @RobinLaytonAZ. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 1095, rlayton@prescottaz.com or 928-533-7941.

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