PHOENIX — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman held her 2022 State of Education address Tuesday afternoon, heavily focusing on the Aggregate Expenditure Limit and the catastrophic impacts it could have on Arizona's education system.
Hoffman stressed the importance of school funding, saying in a written copy of her address, “the biggest threat of widespread school closures comes not from the virus, but a school finance relic from 1980, the aggregate expenditure limit.”
Hoffman said without suspending the aggregate expenditure limit, schools are at risk of further budget cuts, which would ultimately result in more bus driver shortages, more teacher layoffs, and the loss of academic and extracurricular programs, if not the complete closure of some schools.
While the education system was strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic and learning shifts, Hoffman said the biggest threat to schools is far from the virus or its complications.
“The issue of the funding cap has nothing to do with COVID-19, masks, or vaccines. And if schools close because they are not authorized to spend money already sitting in their bank accounts, the blame will lie with you – not our public schools,” Hoffman wrote to lawmakers in her address.
She said, for example, the Washington Elementary School District would lose over $25 million, Miami Unified School District would lose nearly $2 million, and Deer Valley Unified School District would lose more than $36 million.
“While Arizona is a leader in providing parents options when it comes to the education of their children - the solution is not as simple as ‘school choice.’ While these cuts only impact district schools, our public charter schools won’t be able to absorb the students that might lose access to their primary district school if these cuts go through – and as we know, in many communities the district is the only choice available.”