How Arizona computes basic school funding levels

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Compared to other states, the Arizona mechanism for funding public education is a regular Rube Goldberg contraption.

Approved by the state legislature in 1980, the mechanism was designed to replace an unfair system based solely on property taxes with in which the state provided basic funds to ensure all school districts were provided funding to allow “general and uniform” education, as required by the state Constitution. But in computing the per student funding level, school district with special needs and circumstances get extra percentage points that can shift funding to their districts. And when the resulting “equalized” funding from the state doesn’t cover all costs, school districts must go to the voters to get extra funding through local property tax assessments through overrides and bond elections.

Here is how it works:

The Arizona legislature enacts an education budget using revenues collected equally throughout the state. These funds are divided for allocation into three categories: Maintenance and Operations, Soft Capital (items students use that have a short life like paper and pencils) and Unrestricted Capital (items with long-term use like textbooks, desks and chairs). The first two categories, funding is equal for all Kindergarten through 12th Grade students; but Unrestricted Capital funds are allocated about 50% more for high school students than for elementary school students. Additional calculations skew extra funding to special education students (those with physical disabilities, visual or hearing impairments, and mental retardation), those who need to learn English, and students in small or isolated districts that might incur extra expenses for student transportation.

Once all the calculating is completed, school districts receive their funding based on the number of students enrolled in their district. In 2011, they received $3,267.72 per student for Maintenance and Operations, and an additional $225 per student for Soft Capital items. For Unrestricted Capital items, additional funding is $225.76 for elementary students and $337.62 for high schoolers.

Where this funding doesn’t cover all expenses, school districts can go to the voters to seek an override of up to 15% more on Maintenance and Operations funding and up to 5% more for Capital funding. Once enacted, the additional revenues are secured through a raise in property taxes on residents within district boundaries.

When an override is approved, it runs for seven years, but only authorizes the full override percentage for the first five years, with the permitted extra funding dropping by one-third during each of the next two years before ending completely. As a result, school districts that need the extra funding to meet payroll and other expenses generally propose a referendum to continue extend the override in the fourth year. These initiatives are often misunderstood by voters, who see them as a request for a property tax increase rather than the extensive of an existing levy that won’t cost them any more than before.

School districts also can ask voter approval of bond issues for capital improvements such as building a new school for improving an existing one.

The Arizona school funding mechanism has received its share of criticism over the years. Areas of the state with older populations and more expensive homes have from the beginning complained that they are forced to subsidize schools outside their districts. They would like to go back to the pre-1980 system where schools were supported entirely by property taxes collected within their districts.

The Arizona Tax Research Association also has criticized the funding formula as favoring districts where students live far from schools and must travel further on buses. The group also calls for the end of special funding for districts that have high populations of students speaking languages other than English, or must bus students for court-mandated antidiscrimination reasons.

By eliminating these parts of the funding formula, the state’s educational budget could be trimmed further than it was a few years ago, an association spokesman said.

This has baffled leaders in some school districts, who note that the earlier budget cuts made their continuing the overrides more essential to maintaining a high level of educational performance, but also harder to enact override continuations.

admin (7670 Posts)


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwitterby feather

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • Additional Stories

    Friday Night Lights are Here

    August 26th, 2016
    by

    GLOBE Aug. 19           Casteel                         7 p.m. Aug .26 […]


    Project to improve SR 77 north of Winkelman to begin in late August

    August 22nd, 2016
    by

    Project to improve SR 77 north of Winkelman to begin in late August The Arizona Department of Transportation will begin […]


    MEDICAL CODING & BILLING PROGRAM

    August 12th, 2016
    by

    MEDICAL CODING & BILLING PROGRAM   Individuals wishing to pursue the rewarding profession of Medical Coding and Billing have the […]


    The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has announced that the 2016 Globe-Miami Community Investment Fund grant

    June 13th, 2016
    by

    Freeport-McMoRan Foundation Announces 2016 Community Miami, AZ (June 9, 2016) – The Freeport-McMoRan Foundation has announced that the 2016 Globe-Miami Community […]


  • Additional Stories

    Local Scout receives leadership award

    May 4th, 2016
    by

    Local Boy Scout Michael Garcia was awarded the Venturing Leadership Award for Council Level March 11, 2016. The Venturing Leadership […]


    Annual Oracle bicycle race set for Jan. 31

    February 4th, 2016
    by

    The UA Cycling Oracle Road Race, presented by Sabino Cycles, took place over a nearly 20-mile course bounded the Catalina Mountains to the north, the Black Mountains to the south, and the Galiuro Mountains to the east. The finish line was near the Ore House in Oracle.


    POLARFEST 2015: New location, same fun

    September 22nd, 2015
    by

    Polarfest, the annual San Tan Valley-exclusive winter-carnival-type event, will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 […]


    Tips to Make History Come Alive for Your Family

    August 21st, 2015
    by

    (StatePoint) It may have been many years since you picked up a history textbook. And if so, who can blame […]


  • Copperarea

  • [Advertisement.]
  • [Advertisement.]
  • Southeast Valley Ledger

  • Arizona Headlines & Current Weather