Spending limit issue causing stress for Arizona districts, schools chief says
PHOENIX — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said a looming spending limit deadline that could cost schools over $1.1 billion in funding has caused stress on districts unsure if they will be able to operate normally for the rest of the year.
She told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday that the March 1 cutoff is making districts, which stand to see 16% of their budgets slashed without a solution, nervous.
“Teachers are worried about [whether] they will even have a job after March 1,” Hoffman said. “So this is having a significant impact.
“A very negative impact of causing a lot of disruption and worry in a time when we need stability where districts should be able to spend the money that’s already been budgeted to them.”
Hoffman dedicated almost all of her annual State of Education speech Tuesday detailing how no solution would result in districts being forced to close and make cuts.
A spokeswoman for Cartwright School District in Phoenix told KTAR News on Tuesday that it would lose $18 million, causing district employees to be furloughed for 49 days with school closures.
“Our school districts are already having meetings with parents, meeting with teachers,” Hoffman said.
The most likely solution would be for the Legislature to allow the spending limit to be exceeded, which would require a two-thirds vote. That last happened in 2008.
Democratic State Rep. Jennifer Pawlik has also introduced a bill that would permanently repeal the limit and prevent the issue coming up.
The bill would also require a two-thirds majority in the Legislature to pass.
“This is the most urgent issue facing our Legislature right now and I’m really alarmed that they only have 11 legislative working days remaining and they have not yet solved this,” Hoffman said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.