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Arizona

Starting from the Bottom:

First Steps to Improve School Funding in Arizona

January 2020

The Arizona school funding system is in urgent need of reform, ranking at the bottom of the states for every measure of adequacy and equity. To remedy the current situation, two short-term actions can be implemented immediately: (1) increase school funding for all students, and (2) target additional funding to districts serving students in poverty. These short-term improvements can set the stage for an overhaul of the entire funding formula. For demonstration purposes, we calculate the cost and district impact of applying: a 10% increase to the base per pupil amount, and an opportunity weight of 0.5 to the current formula. These modest increases would boost Arizona’s equalization formula allocations by $1.1 billion, from $4.86 to $5.96 billion, with $550 million targeted to increased funding for students in poverty through an opportunity weight, and $541 million from an increase to the base per pupil funding amount. Every district across the state would benefit from these reforms.