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Arizona will still trail most states in student spending, teacher says

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Schools and students in Arizona will continue to lag behind other states in spending, a public school teacher said, despite a budget that included millions of dollars for education.

“We’re still left with this huge hole,” Beth Lewis, of advocacy nonprofit Save Our Schools, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Chad Benson Show on Monday.

Lewis, a Tempe elementary school teacher, added that tax cuts went to corporations and “to people a bit more well off than you and I.”

Gov. Doug Ducey signed an $11.8 billion state budget last week. It included $165 million in funding as part of Ducey’s 2018 plan to give teachers 20% raises by next school year.

“If you want real, honest numbers, we are, as of this week, 46th in the nation in per pupil spending, even with the new money,” Lewis said.

“If we’re $4,000 per kid behind, we’ve got a million kids, that’s $4 billion a year we’re missing. … It’s staggering.”

The budget also gave K-12 schools $136 million to push along restoration of recession-era cuts to district and charter school additional assistance.

Another $88 million was designated for school building renewal, $76 million to build more schools and $20 million for more counselors and campus resource officers.

“I hate to tell you, but before the recession in 2008, we were 48th in the nation,” Lewis said. “Going back to that would not be so great.

“… I know we could be doing so much better.”

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