Delving into education funding

The Arizona Department of Education recently created an audit committee to take a closer look at state funding for district schools and charter schools.

“We have an outstanding group of individuals from school districts, county school offices, and charter representation on that committee,” Dr. Chuck Essigs, ADE audit committee chair and Arizona Association of School Business Officials director of governmental relations, said. “I think we have a group of people who understand the school funding formulas for both districts and charters very well.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman launched the audit committee at the end of January and the committee held its first meeting earlier this month.  

“Basically, [the committee] will be looking at the state funding formula for school districts and charter schools and will verify, hopefully, that the amount of funding that district and charter schools are receiving is correct with the way the state funding formula is put in place,” Essigs said.

The committee consists of 16 members who will work with an audit firm to take a closer look at state funding for education and establish a timeline for the audit.  

“[The firm is] going to tell the committee how they’re going to do it and what the timeline would be for doing that. And then, the committee at that point will either suggest changes or approve the plan and the timeline,” Essigs said.

The Arizona Department of Education is determined to delve deeper into state funding for Arizona school districts and charter schools because funds have not always been correctly calculated at the federal level.

Essigs explained that the federal funding the [Arizona] Department of Education received for a number of years was calculated incorrectly.

Throughout her campaign, Superintendent Hoffman said she would launch an audit in an effort to ensure the issue is not present at the state level too.

“Superintendent Hoffman wanted to make sure the state formula was being administered and calculated correctly so that we could move forward with confidence that the same thing was not happening with state funding that happened with federal funding,” Essigs explained.

As chair of the committee, Essigs is also focused on program efficiency.

“I’m really very excited at the prospect of not only verifying the accuracy but also verifying that there are ways to make the system more efficient,” Dr. Essigs said.

Sierra Ciaramella

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