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AZ Superintendent Kathy Hoffman talks new school year and primary election

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman
Posted at 6:43 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 22:03:23-04

PHOENIX — "The last few years were the most challenging time for anyone working in our public education system,” said Kathy Hoffman, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Hoffman has been prioritizing students’ mental health following the pandemic.

“I have a student advisory council and when I hear from them, they time and time again, raised the issue of mental health,” Hoffman said. “They're very concerned about suicide prevention, as well as having access to resources in their school sites to make sure that their mental health is considered a top priority.”

Looking ahead to November, Hoffman will face off with one of the Republican candidates saying, "I am really fired up and excited to win that second term."

When asked what is one thing that Hoffman wants voters to keep in mind when voting in the primary and what she does not want them to get caught up in, Hoffman responded, "Well, I don't think that this race should be political. I see myself as a career educator and when I was elected in 2018, it was actually the first time in over 20 years that Arizona has had an educator in this role of State Superintendent. And so hopefully Arizonans have seen what it means to have an educator leading the Department of Education.”

She’s focused now on retaining and hiring educated teachers to address the shortage.

"In terms of what I hear from our educators, I do really worry about their burnout,” Hoffman said. “The fact that they do feel like more and more is added to their plate and they just don't have the space to breathe. They're really worried about classroom sizes.”

When asked what she thinks is a good solution, Hoffmans responded, "I would start with ensuring that our teachers have competitive pay. And I do think districts can use some of that base funding that they're being allocated from this last budget towards, I'm hoping, hopeful to see that go towards teacher pay. But when we look to our neighbors, some of our neighboring states and the southwest region, like New Mexico, they were able to secure a 10% raise for all their teachers this year.”

Overall, Hoffman says she was pleased with the bipartisan budget that was passed this year and to see $50 million go towards school safety.

ABC15 will be profiling candidates in many of the major races leading up to the upcoming Arizona primaries. For the latest Arizona election coverage, click here.