Sun: Arizona Town Hall to tackle education funding

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Yuma Sun reported that education, business and community leaders came together at the South West Arizona Town Hall in Yuma on October 5 to brainstorm ways to seek new funding streams for education in Arizona. While the education funding picture in Arizona might be bleak now, it wasn’t always that way, state education leaders said.

The morning session included a panel discussion designed to bring attendees “up to speed” on the state of education in Arizona, with leaders from Expect More Arizona, the Arizona School Administrators, the Arizona Business and Education Coalition, and the Arizona School Boards Association.

Teacher recruitment and retention was discussed during a working lunch with Rob Vagi, senior policy analyst of Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. The institute put out a report in the spring on teacher recruitment and retention that showed schools across the state are struggling to staff classrooms.

“Between 2013-2015, of the teachers who were hired in their first year of teaching 22 percent did not return after their first year,” Vagi noted. “Of the newly teachers hired in 2013, by 2015, 44 percent were no longer teaching in Arizona.”

“The numbers here in Yuma are not far from the state,” Vagi continued, “44 percent leave after 3 years, and about 24 percent leave after five.”

Attendees came up with myriad ideas to find a sustainable funding source for education, but many expressed concern about those who hold elected office, and educating the public on the issues.

Yuma’s Town Hall organization has been in place for nearly 20 years. Town Halls in Arizona are designed to “educate, engage, connect and empower people to resolve important issues through consensus,” according to the Arizona Town Hall website. Funding Pre-K-12 Education is the topic for this year’s Arizona Town Hall in November in Mesa.

READ: Forum calls for action on education funding in Arizona