Recession, Politics and Policy Stretch Arizona School Budgets

| June 17, 2015

By Fernanda Santos and Motoko Rich • The New York Times

PHOENIX — In the rural Saddle Mountain Unified School District 50 miles west of Phoenix, three new libraries have been locked since last year. In a neighboring county, an elementary school closed last month because there was no money to keep it open, even after the district agreed to shift to a four-day week.

More Arizona educators are also taking on double duty: In the Miami Unified School District east of here, the superintendent is also a grant writer and the principal of the elementary school is also in charge of keeping the toilets running, as the district’s director of maintenance.

“We’ve asked our teachers to double up — everybody is doubling up,” said Sherry Dorathy, the superintendent of the district, which is facing a 4 percent cut in next year’s budget. “And we haven’t given our teachers a raise in seven years.”

The needs of the nation’s schools have grown since the recession began: There are now 458,000 more students enrolled in public schools than in the fall of 2007. But while total state revenues have mostly rebounded to pre-recession levels, state education funding per pupil is still down 3.6 percent across the country, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.

…Read the full article HERE

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Category: Education

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