Gov. Ducey says Arizona school funding won’t go to ‘empty seats’

Jan 12, 2021, 9:15 AM
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — Schools that have lost students during the pandemic would see their funding cut under a proposal Gov. Doug Ducey outlined Monday in his annual State of the State address, a speech that hardened his longstanding resistance to school and business closures.

The Republican governor warned schools that he expects them to offer in-person instruction as teachers gain access to the coronavirus vaccine.

“We will not be funding empty seats or allowing schools to remain in a perpetual state of closure,” Ducey said. “Children still need to learn, even in a pandemic.”

Ducey wants to fund public and charter schools based on their actual enrollment, not at prepandemic levels, said Getchen Conger, Ducey’s deputy chief of staff.

That could open up big holes in the budgets for schools, which statewide have seen enrollment decline by about 4%, according to the Department of Education.

Ducey’s comment were initially interpreted by many to mean he wanted to cut funding for remote learning.

The governor wants all children to have an option for in-person learning but he would not defund virtual education, Conger said.

Ducey has refused pressure from Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat, to pause in-person learning amid a rise in coronavirus infections that is crushing hospitals.

But Monday’s speech was the most aggressive he has delivered in pushing for schools to fully reopen their doors.

Hoffman said Ducey was ignoring the reality of COVID-19 and its effects on schools, teachers and students, saying schools had gone “above and beyond” to ensure learning continued during the pandemic. Ducey’s funding plans won’t sit well with them, she said.

“I think many educators will take that as a slap in the face, especially those who have been teaching from home since March under these very difficult circumstances,” she said.

In his seventh and shortest state-of-the-state address as governor, Ducey spoke directly to a camera from his office in the State Capitol.

The pandemic-era precaution came in place of the traditional pomp and circumstance of a speech that is normally delivered to a joint session of the Legislature, state Supreme Court justices, agency heads and foreign consuls.

Ducey called for more money to help children falling behind because they have been away from their classrooms, a problem he said has affected particularly low-income students and children of color. Resources could include funding for summer school, longer school days and one-on-one tutoring.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

FILE - In this July 16, 2019, file photo, officers taking part in training load gun clips with ammu...

Phoenix man sentenced to over 3 years in prison for ammunition smuggle attempt

A Valley man was sentenced to over three years in prison on Wednesday for attempting to smuggle ammunition from the United States into Mexico last year, authorities said.
7 hours ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Southbound SR 87 lanes reopened after crash east of Shea Boulevard

The southbound lanes have reopened on State Route 87 near the Fort McDowell Rodeo Grounds following a crash.
1 day ago
(Facebook photo/ Buckeye Police Department)...

Police arrest suspect after deadly shooting in Buckeye

Police arrested a suspect without incident after a fatal shooting near Yuma and Dean Roads in Buckeye Friday evening.
1 day ago
(Mohave Area General Narcotics Enforcement Team Photo)...

Officers seize over 100 pounds of cocaine at Arizona-California border

Arizona Department of Transportation Enforcement and Compliance Division officers seized over 100 pounds of cocaine on Tuesday at a port of entry near the California state line, authorities said. 
1 day ago
(Pexels Photo)...

Scottsdale man accused of stealing millions in music royalties

A Scottsdale man is one of two people accused of stealing millions of dollars in music royalties over the past five years, authorities said Wednesday.
1 day ago
(Facebook Photo/Arizona Heart Foundation)...
Kevin Stone

Arizona Heart Foundation to provide free screenings for rural communities

The Arizona Heart Foundation is launching an outreach program to bring free screenings to rural communities where cardiovascular disease too often goes undetected.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona State University

Gain insights on next year’s trends at 58th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon

Employment is recovering from the severe contraction induced by the pandemic, but it is still way below levels at the start of 2020. Can it fully recover in the coming year?

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Why fall maintenance is important for your heating system and A/C

It’s easy to ignore your heater and air conditioner when they’re working but the moment something breaks, you will likely regret not keeping up with maintenance. After all, if something goes wrong, you may be stuck with a repair that will take longer and be more expensive than simple maintenance.
Gov. Ducey says Arizona school funding won’t go to ‘empty seats’