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Big financial boost for Arizona's public school system

PHOENIX -- A judge ruled Friday that Arizona's public schools are entitled to an additional $317 million in state funding this year, based on inflation.

That number is high, but it could grow to nearly $3 billion over the next five years. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper will hold future hearings to determine whether or not to order retroactive funding for past fiscal years.

School administrators called the ruling a partial win. They argued the state violated a voter-approved law by failing to provide mandated inflation money since the 2009 budget crunch.

Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association, said these funds are five years late and that $300 million is not enough to fix Arizona's shattered education system; however, he called the new funds a good start.

"This is an important amount of money the districts desperately need and from which students will absolutely benefit, but there is a long way to go," he said.

Morrill added that funding public schools needs to be a top priority for Arizona's next governor.

"Programs, personnel, materials and resources for students can all be enhanced," he said. "We have a long way to go, but this is a significant amount of money."

The $317 million will directly benefit students and families, as long as it goes to base-level funding, according to Morrill. He said he hopes to see the state give more money to the education system soon.

KTAR's Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

About the Author

Cooper Rummell is a Southern California native. He moved to Arizona in 2012 to pursue a bachelor's degree in journalism at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Since May 2013, Cooper has worked as a desk anchor and reporter at KTAR. He has a passion for investigative political reporting and covering the local crime beat.


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