Is the percentage of funding that school districts spend on classrooms going up or down? The Arizona Auditor General’s annual report on classroom spending says it was down for the 2015-2016 school year, but a broader definition used by the governor, Legislature and Arizona public school leaders shows support for the classroom is holding steady.
The auditor’s report, released March 1, focuses on the category of instruction as the barometer of support for Arizona students, which last year was 53.5 percent of available operating dollars, a slight decrease from the prior year. That includes teachers, aides, substitute teachers, supplies like paper, pencils, crayons, textbooks, workbooks and software and activities such as choir, band, field trips and athletics.
The more commonly accepted way to measure support for student learning in the classroom, however, was 67.4 percent, the same as it was the prior year.
“It’s a much better understanding that support is not just what happens in the classroom” but also the services students receive that help them achieve, said Ken Hicks, chief financial officer of Peoria Unified School District.
State lawmakers are now looking to boost teacher pay above and beyond Gov. Doug Ducey’s offer.
House Speaker J.D. Mesnard, a Republican from Chandler, said legislators are considering a one percent increase for next year.
While this is more than Ducey’s proposal, it wasn’t well received by at least one teacher who believes the state can do better.
“It’s frustrating and it hurts a little bit. I’ve dedicated myself to this career and to not feel valued is really frustrating,” said Valerie Meyer, who been teaching in the Valley for 22 years.
The state board of education is reviewing public feedback on their proposed A through F school grading system Monday morning. The meeting comes after a month of public hearings on the program.
Officials on the board said the feedback so far has been pretty consistent.
Among the top comments are: too much reliance on the state’s standardized test and concerns about the impacts of socioeconomic status on school letter grades.
Parents, teachers and students have a few options when it comes to improving their schools. One way is through the Legislature, but some people don’t have the tools or knowledge to advocate for their issues.
The Arizona Parent Teacher Association sought to remedy that Wednesday by holding advocacy workshops and a discussion panel with five state representatives.
Twenty years ago, internet access was a luxury that only a small number of schools in the country could afford. That’s no longer true .
As more instructional technology advances and more material lives online instead of on book shelves or in cabinets, nearly all schools in the country have adopted some sort of access to the internet, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
However, data from a nonprofit advocating for better internet access in schools shows Arizona is still lagging.
That’s not to say progress isn’t being made; a statewide initiative coupled with federal funding could boost internet connectivity in Arizona’s public and charter schools substantially in coming years.