It has been five months since Prop 123 barely passed by a super thin margin. After years of near drought level finances, many districts and teachers are beginning to get some relief.
There’s quite a bit of anger about how schools are using funds made available through these funds. Much of that anger is based on anecdotes and half truths that do not truly show how school boards are planning to use the money. So here are some facts. Once the proposition passed, $300 million was released to public education. There is over $3 billion more planned to be released over the next ten years. With that said, all that schools have right now, is $300 million to share. Each district gets a portion based on student enrollment so some districts get more, some get less. Schools are in dire need right now. Schools must maintain buildings and support staff, work to retain teachers, provide instructional materials, etc… Schools get to allocate their portion of this $300 million to meet their most immediate needs. The purpose of Prop. 123 was to help schools catch up to the point they should have been at based on proper inflation funding.
In the past five months, most districts have only seen minimal relief, if any relief at all. The teachers in my district will receive a 6% lump check in November. Teachers in Lake Havasu, Arizona will not see any pay increase as the money will barely cover the increase cost of their insurance package. Other teachers around Arizona are only seeing an extra $50 on their paychecks. $300 million sounds like an astronomical amount of money. However, if it was divided equally among the nearly 60,000 teachers in Arizona, each teacher would only get an extra $5,000 a year. Broken down into 12 months with taxes and insurance, each teacher would take home about $300 extra a month. That’s not life changing.
Voters and teachers need to keep in mind that this is a first step. There is still $3 billion to be released over the next few years. We are not going to fix our financial crisis in five months. Give us time. We will get there.
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