In response to the ongoing and increasing need to address education funding in Arizona, representatives of more than 80 education, business and community organizations joined together to create a Roadmap for P-20 Education Funding (Roadmap). The Roadmap represents consensus on the major investments needed for P-20 education by 2030 that, coupled with effective instruction, policy and strategy implementation, will advance the shared goals in the Arizona Education Progress Meter and close persistent achievement gaps.

“There is a direct connection between the strength of our education system and the strength of our state’s economy,” says Tracy Bame, president of the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation and chair of the board of Expect More Arizona. “Additional investments in education, at every level, are necessary to develop the skilled workforce that will attract diverse businesses to Arizona and support the needs of existing employers.”

Participants involved in drafting the Roadmap agreed that future state budgets and funding proposals should prioritize investments that support the entire education continuum, significantly advance outcomes for all students, and provide predictability, consistency and flexibility. Using these principles, the group discussed the major investments needed in each sector: early childhood, K-12 and postsecondary education. The list of investments was then prioritized into short, mid and long-term categories based on each item’s ability to stabilize the education system and advance outcomes for all students.

As a first step, participating organizations agree that these are the short-term investments needed:

• Raise teacher pay to the national median and fund professional development, mentoring and induction that are research-informed and driven by best practices.

Increase access to quality child care, including pre-K (including increasing state funding for child care, providing budget authority to spend the $56M in additional federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds, and increasing the reimbursement rate to a quality level).

• Fund effective strategies and interventions to support reading proficiency by the end of 3rd grade, as identified by the State Board of Education, including targeted intentional reading supports and technical assistance in the early grades, a comprehensive assessment system, and renewing and redirecting Early Literacy Program Funding to areas of greatest need.

Provide funding for K-12 school building construction and maintenance, beginning with a focus on rural schools.  

• Begin scaling funding for wrap around services for students where those services are based on individual needs assessment, early interventions and a supply of school internal and external staff resources (including social workers, mental health professionals, nurses, speech and language therapist, school counselors, special education, etc.).

• Double the STEM workforce funding for all community colleges, including restoration of this funding for Pima and Maricopa Community Colleges.

• Increase funding for Arizona resident students attending a state university (e.g. 50/50 model)

(Note: View the full report for the mid- and long-term investments needed.)

The Roadmap is intended to be used by policymakers, business, education and community leaders to inform and evaluate funding proposals and to focus conversations on the complete picture, even as incremental investments are made in the short term.

“If we want to see significant improvements in student outcomes at every level, then we have to invest in education at every level,” says Mark Joraanstad, executive director of Arizona School Administrators, and a participant in the Roadmap discussion. “And, even as meaningful investments are made in certain areas, it is critical the state remains focused on the long-term vision for education funding and the goals we have said are important to us.”

In addition, it is intended that the Roadmap be used to unite the community around a set of shared priorities that can be communicated about and advocated for over time. The Roadmap builds on the many conversations and convenings that have taken place over the past decade about education funding in Arizona.

“Education is the key to unlocking the potential of individuals and communities in our state,” says Christine M. Thompson, President and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “Funding alone will not enable the state to meet the goals outlined in the Education Progress Meter, however, these investments are an important tool that, if combined with meaningful policy changes and high-quality instruction, ensure every student, regardless of race, income or zip code, will receive an excellent education.”