PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) When the pandemic hit and many states began considering cuts to priorities like K-12 schools, Arizona did the opposite — Arizona began investing. Over the last few months, K-12 public schools have seen an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars to help deal with the effects of the pandemic, utilizing federal dollars and existing state dollars.
On July 23, Governor Doug Ducey announced the “Arizona: Open For Learning” plan, which invests a total of $440 million in federal dollars to our schools. The plan provides maximum options for Arizona families, ensures students receive a full academic year of education, and gives local school leaders the flexibility and public health guidance to make the best decisions for their students, teachers and staff.
Arizona has committed $370 million in Federal CARES Act funds to schools across the state. These dollars will ensure budget stability as more students learn online while providing additional dollars when students do learn in the classroom — recognizing the additional costs in-person learning will bring to districts this school year. On top of that, the CARES Act included $69 million flexible dollars in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund for Arizona schools and students in greatest need. Through the GEER Fund, Arizona invested:
- $6 million in the Arizona Teachers Academy;
- $40 million to expand broadband in rural communities and bridge the digital divide;
- $20 million in additional support for high-need schools;
- $1 million in microgrants to support innovative programs to continue educating Arizona students;
- $1 million for vehicles for the Arizona School For The Deaf And Blind;
- $700,000 for leadership development through Beat The Odds Leadership Academy; and
- $500,000 to expand the number of our nation’s eager and talented college students to work with schools serving Arizona’s most vulnerable student populations.
In addition, this year, the budget enacted by Governor Ducey kept the commitment made to Arizona’s teachers in the 20×2020 plan, which provides teachers 20% pay raises by the start of this school year. State investments toward 20×2020 total $645.2 million for public school teachers — resulting in permanent funding for a 20% increase for average teacher pay.