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Hoffman lays out hopes for Arizona education funding in state budget

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she hopes to see the Legislature fully fund education in the state budget that’s likely to roll out next week.

“First, we absolutely need to make sure that the governor and the Legislature stick to their 20 by 2020 plan,” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Thursday.

“I’ve always said that’s a great first step. That is dollars going straight to our teachers and our classrooms that are desperately needed.”

But there are other parts of the budget she worries are in more danger. Hoffman said she saw a budget plan leaked from the Senate that included even less funding for education than in the governor’s proposal, including zero money for a teacher training program.

“So for example, the governor had proposed in his budget proposal that we have money for the teacher’s academy, which supports university students who are working on their education degrees,” she said.

“And I’m very supportive of having that funding to help support our new teachers, because we do have a teacher shortage, but that was not included.”

Hoffman said the leaked budget also showed a reduction to funding for school safety and school counselors, two issues that she has been pushing for since she took office.

Last week, she created a School Safety Task Force in an effort to reduce school violence, and she has pledged to work toward improving Arizona’s ratio of students to counselors — the worst in the nation.

Hoffman said she also supports the governor’s plan to approve funding for an increased staff to oversee the state’s charter schools.

“One of the other proposals that’s still important to me is that we have funding for more staff for the state charter school board,” she said.

“Those staff members are the ones that go into charter schools and they do audits, and they count kids, and they check fingerprint clearances and all these things to make sure that our students are safe, that our teachers are well-trained, and that they are appropriately using the funding that they are receiving from the state.”

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