TUSD's Sanchez Responds to Ducey's Budget

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In response to Gov. Doug Ducey's recently released state budget proposal with what seems like an estimate in $13.5 million in cuts in K-12 schools and$75 million from universities, Tucson Unified School District Superintendent H.T. Sanchez issued the follow statement:

Tucson, AZ, January 16, 2015 — Despite claims that he supports public education, the budget that Gov. Doug Ducey released Friday includes major cuts in funding that could significantly hurt the education of the majority of Arizona’s children.

Dr. H.T. Sanchez, superintendent of Tucson Unified School District, said the proposed budget amounts to an attack on our schools.

The budget demands a 5 percent reduction in administrative costs which Gov. Ducey defines as including facilities, operations, administrators, food services and other departments—everything outside the classroom. This puts an additional stress on TUSD, which has already seen $14 million cut from Tucson Unified School District’s capital funds this year. In fact, since 2009-2010, the district’s capital funds have been cut by over $78 million.

Gov. Ducey’s budget cuts could impact everything from textbooks, to library books to technology in the classroom.

“When you think about these cuts, people might think of highly paid administrators. But if you look closer at the budget, you’ll see these cuts go beyond administration. He has also targeted counselors and librarians, specialists who provide math and reading intervention, food services and custodians,” Dr. Sanchez said.

The budget also targets the safety of children by identifying school safety as part of the 5 percent reduction.

“I look forward to Gov. Ducey explaining to parents how this doesn’t affect the quality of instruction their children receive,” he said.

One of the recommended budget cuts is the Student Success fund implemented a year ago. That money would be renamed the Access Our Best Public Schools Fund and will go to high-performing schools and the Arizona Department of Education. For Tucson Unified School District, this change amounts a loss of about $800,000. For the Arizona Department of Education, it means an increase of $900,000 for administrative costs.

“Student Success funds in TUSD were used to help pay for teacher raises that were recently approved. These raises were the first our teachers have seen in at least three years,” Dr. Sanchez said. “It is amazing that the governor would demand cuts to school districts while increasing administrative costs at the state level.”

While Dr. Sanchez said the staff is still digesting the numbers in the budget and what they mean to the district’s funding, all open non-classroom teacher positions will be scrutinized before being filled.

Dr. Sanchez said the budget hurts not only students, but business development and the community as a whole.

“I’ve heard much talk about the quality of education being a draw for getting businesses to the state of Arizona. This move is a signal to businesses that Arizona doesn’t value education.”

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