Fight over school funding in Arizona headed to court

Legislature accused of ignoring 1994 ruling ordering state to pick up some of the costs.

July 11, 2016 |

Construction in Tempe, Ariz. Photo: lunita lu/Creative Commons.

A public advocacy group is accusing the Arizona State Legislature of failing to fund its fair share of public school construction costs.

The matter is likely to be settled in court. The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest says the legislature is ignoring a 1994 ruling by the state Supreme Court that found it illegal to have taxpayers in each school district solely responsible for school construction. The court said that disparities between each district’s ability to raise taxpayer funds for school construction were too great.

The organization is working with local school districts to ask Arizona judges to force lawmakers to properly fund the system. In 1996, the legislature agreed to put $100 million into a special fund that could be tapped by poor districts for construction needs. It also agreed to provide another $30 million a year for nine more years. 

The Supreme Court found that plan did not satisfy the constitutional requirement for a "general and uniform'' school system.

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