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Governor and State Legislators Finalize K-12 Budget

Governor and State Legislators Finalize K-12 Budget
May 03
05:50 2018

UPDATE – May 3, 2018 – Teachers in Arizona are not exactly happy with the new education budget that was just approved by the State House and Senate, the Governor’s signature putting the cap on it this morning.  #RedforEd advocates standing outside the Capitol as the Governor put his stamp of approval on it just shortly after 6:00am, school districts that had planned to go back to class today held out as the debate lasted hours into the night. Over 10 bills make up the spending plan for the budget year set to begin  July 1.  So far the Governor has reportedly only signed the K-12 education portion of the budget which provides more than $300 million in raises for many of the state’s striking teachers. Governor Ducey called the budget a big win for Arizona students, teachers and for public education. Arizona RedForEd teachers returning to class now the Governor has signed the new budget.

The following is a release from Arizona Legislative Report News Notes 5/3/2018 – Ducey has signed the K-12 budget bill after lawmakers worked through the night to pass the $10.4-billion spending plan that funds his promise to boost teacher pay this fall and in the following two school years. The Senate has already approved the budget package, and the House is still working on five bills in the budget package. Crucially, both chambers have approved the K-12 BRB, which Ducey immediately signed. Approved mostly along party lines in the House, H2663 (K-12 education; budget reconciliation) drew bipartisan support in the Senate, with Bowie, Bradley, Dalessandro and Farley voting “yes.” The bill gives teachers a 9-percent boost in pay. Democrats, as well as Republicans, noted the budget has come a long way from the 1 percent Ducey initially offered teachers in January. And by 2020, funding for teacher pay will have increased by 19-percent over three years – thanks to roughly $644 million in new education funding, including $273 million in the next budget cycle. The budget also allocates another $100 million to restore previous cuts to public schools, some made by Ducey, in funding for soft capital. Ducey and Republican legislators repeatedly pointed to those dollars as another way school district officials could give teachers, as well as support staff, raises. Passage of the budget in the Senate came after nine and a half hours of debate, a high stakes process that unfolded under the watchful eye of educators. The final budget represents a 5.7 percent overall growth in spending from $9.8 billion in FY18 financed primarily through rosier projections. Budget analysts and economists have grown optimistic about Arizona’s economic growth. It also scrapes together funds by other means, including more than $100 million in dollars freed up as a result of a new vehicle registration fee. Ducey also gave up on several of his own spending initiatives, including a sizable tax break for veterans and more dollars for school resource officers, which was a part of his pitch for a series of school safety measures. The governor’s office boasts that the budget still leaves Arizona in a healthy financial state, as budget analysts estimate a $150 million structural balance even after all the spending.

 

UPDATE – May 2, 2018 – #RedforEd leaders are telling Arizona teachers tomorrow they can return to work. Pending approval this week by state lawmakers of a budget they’ve been negotiating that could expand the state’s education funding and increase teacher salaries. Flagstaff School District has canceled school along with dozens of other Arizona school districts for today. Page Unified School District continues with normal school operations, teachers in Page have been back in the classrooms since Monday.

 

UPDATE- May 1, 2018 – Arizona Teachers wrapping up Day Four of the state wide walk out – the #RedforEd initiative and Arizona Education Association members holding out for Governor Doug Ducey to finalize a deal- the Governor has written a letter explaining where budget negotiations stand, you can read that HERE.

Meanwhile Lake Powell Life News Director Carol Batchelor sat down with Page Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Robert Varner this morning to get a local update, if you missed the broadcast you can listen to it as a podcast HERE.

 

UPDATE – April 30, 2018 – Page Unified School District resumed normal operations Monday amid Day 3 of the #RedForEd Teacher Walk Outs through out the state. Multiple districts in the state remained closed, some worked on half day schedules.

To see an interactive map of schools districts in Arizona participating in the walkout click here.

To see an interactive comparison map of Arizona teacher salaries click here.

 

UPDATE – April 28, 2018 – Flagstaff Unified School District schools will be closed Monday due to the #RedforEd walkout. According to FUSD, schools will remain closed until the end of the walkout or the level of staff returns to a safe level for students.

Leaders of the grassroots group Arizona Educators United planned to survey members over the weekend on whether to continue the walkout.

The Chandler Unified School District says its announcement Friday that schools will remain closed Monday is “based on the number of teachers who have reported their absence for Monday”.

Lake Powell Life News has reached out to Page Unified School District this weekend for an update regarding a possible closure Monday. We will continue to update you as this story develops.

 

UPDATE – April 27, 2018 – After a second day of protests and rallies across the state with the Arizona Education Association and #RedForEd teachers ready to continue the strike Monday, Arizona legislators came to an agreement with Governor Doug Ducey on his proposed raise for teachers with added funds for staff and education that they say will satisfy teacher demands. The Governor claims the plan restores recession-era cuts to additional assistance, providing flexible dollars for support staff salaries, new textbooks and infrastructure improvements. He touts that under the plan, 20% teacher raises are permanent, ongoing, and in the base, meaning they get inflated year after year.

NBC News is reporting the announcement in the following manner:

“Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appears to announce deal reached for a 20 percent pay increase for Arizona teachers in tweet” – read their report.

Reuters tweeted out the deal as fact: “Arizona governor announces deal with legislature to raise teacher pay 20 percent by 2020”

Skeptics on social media are speculating this is not the answer teachers have been waiting for yet, suggesting that Gov Ducey’s “we have a deal” tweet means he and GOP leadership have worked out the particulars on the 20 by 2020 plan, and believe they have something they can pass, suggesting that “no negotiations have taken place with and it’s unlikely it meets teacher demands”.

Others, such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, tweeted out support for the announcement saying, “Business groups across Arizona strongly support a state budget that will raise teacher salaries 20 percent by 2020. The announcement that a deal is in place is good news. Teachers have the earned the raise. Let’s make it happen.”

Teachers in the Kayenta Unified School District today wrote letters to Gov. Ducey and other members of the state legislature. The purpose of the letters to pressure lawmakers, calling attention to school funding shortfalls. Arizona Reps. Benally (D-Window Rock) and Descheenie (D-Chinle) talked to faculty there. Both Diné lawmakers toured classrooms and spoke with teachers at Monument Valley High, which has been closed for two days during the walkout.

Page Unified School District has remained silent today, teachers and students are expected to return to class Monday. Be sure to bookmark the school district website to stay current on school announcements and information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 26, 2018 – It’s a big day for Arizona Educators… more than 840,000 of Arizona’s 1.1 million public-school students in 1,000-plus schools will be affected by closures as the statewide teacher walkout begins. School closures affecting about 75 percent of the state’s public-school district and charter students. At least 101 Arizona school districts and charter schools have made plans to be closed today, Page Unified School Teachers among them. Many districts said in their notices to parents that safety was a factor in the decision to close during the walkout since they won’t have the necessary staff to safely operate. At least 48 school districts and charter schools — most of them in the state’s rural pockets — have announced plans to stay open, but they represent a minority of the state’s student population. Arizona Educators United, the teacher-led group organizing the statewide walkout anticipates 30,000 to 50,000 teachers will rally at the Capitol today. Page Unified has already planned for a Friday Day off for students and staff, they expect school to be back to normal schedule Monday. Read their letter to parents here.

Meanwhile the reason for the walkout – teachers seeking a plan that would generate enough money for the raise they are asking for as well as other education needs. Governor Doug Ducey has proposed a plan which relies on new revenue, and other lawmakers have also proposed an increase to sales tax to cover the teacher’s demands. Yesterday Arizona American Federation of Teachers recommended a 2.5 percent statewide tax on services currently un-taxed such as haircuts and legal services which they feel would bring in close to $2.65 Billion.

Coconino County has provided a useful set of links for parents wishing to learn more about the walkout, with tips on how to get through what might be a challenging time while educators are out

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday Page Unified Schoolteachers were joined by school staff and students as they rallied for support in the statewide walkout of Arizona teachers who say the Governor’s proposed salary increase over the next three years is not enough, they want raises for other school workers besides teachers and are asking for Legislators to return the billions of dollars in funding that’s been cut from Arizona education over the past ten years.

Page teachers lined Lake Powell Blvd for hours Thursday in lieu of the classroom to share their message of concern and to rally local support which was loud and proud as the traffic went by.

Page student stands with teachers

Page educators line Lake Powell Blvd for support

Page teachers want an end to long hours and unfair compensation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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