Are all AZ education cuts created equal?

by David Safier
In the course of writing for this blog, I've struck up an email conversation with David Reed, a guy who knows more about education budget numbers, and far more about virtual schools (online education), than I do. He's a recent PhD in education, so his research is fresh and current.

He sent me information about the education portion of the 2010 budget that just made its way out of House Appropriations. According to Reed, charters are taking less of a hit than traditional public schools.

Based on the reported 40-day October 1st 2008 enrollment numbers, traditional districts had 1,075,193 students. They are being cut $175,000,000. Based on my calculations that would be a cut $162/per student. There are 100,000 charter school students. They are being cut $5M. Based on calculation charters are being cut $50 per student.

He's careful to say, "based on my calculations," which I appreciate, since, when it comes to budgets, it's often tough to compare figures directly. But if he's right and charters are taking a third of the hit per student that traditional schools are taking, I'd love to hear the Republican rationale. They keep saying they're doing no more than mussing schools' hair a bit with the budget cuts. If so, they should mess with the charters in equal measure.

The other part of the budget he pointed out that calls for less interpretation, and actually surprises me, is that the online schools will get 80% as much per student as other schools. That's new, so far as I know, and that's a serious cut. Are legislators acknowledging that it costs less to educate a student sitting at home behind a computer than one sitting inside an actual school? I'm sure that's a fact, but it's a surprising admission to be coming out of our legislature.

All kinds of other new rules are created in the bill for online schools — about sharing students with other schools and testing and things like that — but I can't sort out their significance, even with Reed's help, so I'll pass on those changes until I can make more sense of them.

0 responses to “Are all AZ education cuts created equal?

  1. Just an update,

    The recent legislation in SB 1187 was amended though an action initiated by Sen. Huppenthal. The new language stipulates an increase in the per-student funding for online students to .95 for full-time and .85 for part-time. The legislation also stipulated that full-time for online students would be 6-hours of instruction per day or 30-hours per week.

    Currently, ARS 15-901 requires high school students to be in school 20-hours per week to qualify for full-time funding. The statute language fails to separate number of equivalent hours by grade level. According to 15-901 fulltime programs are broken down as follow:

    • K=356 hours per 180 days or 1.98 hours per instruction day
    • 1st – 3rd=712 hours per 180 days or 3.95 hours per instruction day
    • 4th – 6th=890 hours per 180 days or 4.94 hours per instruction day
    • 7th – 8th=1068 hours per 180 instruction days or 5.93 hours per instruction day
    • 9th – 12th=720 hours per 180 instruction days or 4 hours per instruction day

    Basically this means that online high school students will be required to receive 50% more instruction for .5 or .15 less funding depending on whether they are full-time or part-time.

    Also let’s think of the implications to our states grand funding reporting and accountability mechanism the Student Accountability Information System (SAIS. The new funding requirements for online students would be .95 for 6-hours of instruction or 30-hours per week for full-time students, but .85 for part-time online. Meaning hypothetically:

    If Johnny takes classes at a “brick and mortar” for 2 hours, and then attends an online school for three hours, the “brick and mortar” will get 50% of the state allocated funding for Johnny while the online school will get .85% of 50% of the state approved funding. Any combination of different hours in different delivery paradigms will obviously in values of different variations in the disbursing of Johnny’s allocated educational funding. Can’t wait to see how the reconciliation of all these variables comes out.

    It was this same type of policy action that caused the overfunding of concurrently enrolled online students in 2007-2008 as determined by the Arizona Auditor General Report (TAPBI, Oct 2007).

    Unfortunately it was all for naught and a moot point as this bill along with 15 others, after sitting on the Senate floor since June 4 was vetoed on July 1 with all the other budget bills by Governor Brewer.

    What is the value per hour of wasted legislative process? Enough to balance things?

  2. Thanks; I want to be as fair as David; but will go further; I have owned and paid Property Taxes in Pima County since being of age to legally own property; I have never rented and always owned property in Pima County; and live here 12 months out of the year buying Arizona License Plates.

  3. David Safier

    You may ask. I’ll answer that I’m a permanent resident of Arizona who lives here 12 months a year. That’s all you get for now.

  4. might I ask a revelant question of David?

    Are you a perminent resident of Arizona who spends over 6 months in the State?

    Do you own Property in Pima County?

    What School District are you living in?

  5. you mean to tell me that after seeing 2 trillion dollars thrown up against the wall to stimulate the economy and nothing happened but bankruptcies; you think throwing more money at education it will fix it?

    I thought the socialist talking points for healthcare was there is to much money being spent for a failed program?

  6. Shouldn’t this calculation be shown as a percentage of per student revenue and funding sources? According to the AZ Charter Schools Association, district receive $1852 more per student from sources like bonds and overrides. Using these numbers…

    the cut is .63% for charters and 1.7% for districts. Of course smart schools like Vail Unified open district sponsored charters to take advantage of these funding quirks.