Arizona’s schools may be forced to close as early as April 1 this spring.
The irony is that this spring, school districts are running into something called the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) that was created over 40 years ago.
There is a straightforward solution.
The Legislature could – and should pass a concurrent resolution before March 1 that will allow districts to exceed the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL). It requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
Even so, that will only fix the problem for this spring.
Districts based their budgets on money the legislature already approved. They have not overspent.
We changed the rules on schools. In 2000, when voters approved Prop 301 to fund education for 20 years, they exempted that money from counting toward the expenditure limit.
But in 2018, the legislature extended Prop 301, without exempting it. That puts $638 million of funding a year at risk – money that didn’t used to count toward the limit but does now.
Huge things have changed since 1979 when the AEL was created. We should be spending more now because we have technology, and we should make sure kids know how to use it.
Arizona continues to rank dead last in the nation in per-student investment. That has a negative economic impact on all of us. We already see it in the number of employers frustrated by the lack of qualified workers.
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