Arizona public school funding per student to hit record level





(The Center Square) — New numbers from the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee paint a clearer picture in the ongoing debate on school choice and funding for public education.When funding at the state, local and federal levels are combined, the average Arizona K-12 student has an estimated $14,673 allocated toward them in fiscal year 2024. This reflects a steady increase from fiscal year 2015, which was $9,124.Arizona lawmakers in fiscal year 2023 allocated $14,025 per student, but inflation has also impacted the stats. The inflation-adjusted numbers between 2023 and 2024 show a slight dip in funding per student, going from $12,003 compared with $11,736, respectively. Even with the inflation-adjusted number, the funding has increased significantly over the years.Matt Beienburg, director of education policy at the Goldwater Institute, wrote for the nonprofit that the numbers should limit concern about how the Empowerment Scholarship Account program functions.“As with the total funding levels, state and local funding for public schools has increased substantially during the years in which the ESA program has operated, rising over $2,000 per student (20%) in inflation-adjusted terms since the program began,” Beinenburg wrote. “Opponents of school choice often speak of funding cuts to public education, but the upward trajectory over the past several decades obliterates this talking point.”Arizona Democrats have long opposed the ESA program, which allows parents to take around $7,000 in state funding and put it toward non-public education costs such a tuition or homeschooling expenses instead of a traditio …

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