Shiry Sapir, GOP candidate for public schools chief, says education financing needs overhaul
PHOENIX — Shiry Sapir, a Republican candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction, said Monday the state’s education system is failing and funding formulas need to be overhauled from scratch.
“I don’t feel that we need to make any more investment in a failing system,” Sapir told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “The system needs to take a time out, just like any other business and say, where are we failing? Where are we wasting money? Where is the corruption? Where is the mismanagement and fix that.
“There is no business in the world that you throw good money after bad and it succeeds.”
Sapir’s comments were in response to a question regarding her thoughts on the aggregate expenditure limit, a 1980 law that caps how much K-12 school districts could spend during an academic year and handcuffs districts from distributing money that has already been allocated.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat who is seeking reelection, said more than $2 billion could be cut from budgets across the state if the law is not waived and urged Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special legislative session to fix the issue.
Sapir, who has jumped into a statistical tie with Tom Horne for the GOP nomination in polling ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, was reluctant to ask taxpayers for more money. She said there has not been a return on investment.
“Our children are not brilliant, they’re not learning even on the level that other countries, third-world countries are teaching,” Sapir said.
Sapir said a fix for the problem is investing more money in the classroom.
“The problem is that the money comes from the top down and it’s time to look at these formulas and this spending of this system from the bottom up,” she said.
“First of all, how much money the classroom needs, how much money the teachers need and then you can go up the ladder to all the expensive remodeling, the expensive expansion there, the expensive curriculum, the expensive salaries to the administrators, but you need to start from the bottom up and right now it’s from the top to the bottom and it never makes it to the classroom.”
She said it’s going to be a waste of money for the taxpayers to keep doing it in the current way.
Sapir said she joined the race after feeling frustration from schools being shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to make sure that we have people in charge that care about children regardless of political affiliation,” she said. “It has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat.
“Our children were abused, they were neglected for two years now and there’s no plan in place to get them caught up and we need somebody who cares to make sure that our children get the academic information in front of them and removed from social justice issues.”