MAY 27, 2015

Governor Doug Ducey announces launch of Classrooms First Initiative Council

Group will work to improve educational outcomes through school finance reform

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PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey announced the launch of the Classrooms First Initiative Council, a team of business and education leaders charged with simplifying and modernizing the current school finance code to ensure more funding for teachers and classroom instruction. 
Created through Executive Order in January, the Council reflects the governor's commitment to improving educational results and rewarding student success.  

The Council will be co-chaired by Governor Ducey and Jim Swanson, President and CEO of Kitchell Corporation. 

Additional members include:
The Honorable Diane Douglas, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Greg Miller, President, State Board of Education
Janna Day, President, State Board for Charter Schools
The Honorable Tim Carter, County School Superintendent, Yavapai County
Brian Capistran, Superintendent, Glendale Union School District
Alicia Alvarez, Principal, Alta Vista High School
Susan Chan, District Administrator, Kingman Academy
Beth Maloney (2014 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year), Elementary School Teacher, Dysart Unified School District
Annie Gilbert, Director of School Operations & Finance, Ball Charter Schools
Ken Hicks, Chief Financial Officer, Peoria Unified School District
Dawn Wallace, Education Policy Advisor to Governor Ducey

"The current system of financing schools is antiquated, complicated in its implementation and too rigid for 21st century education expectations," said Governor Ducey. "Our goal is to create a funding formula that incentivizes student success, not seat time."

The Council members, who will serve at the pleasure of the Governor, will build a long-term strategy around school finance reform with multi-year policy initiatives and implementation plans. The group will present preliminary recommendations in September 2015, with final recommendations due to the governor in December 2015.

"The Council's charge is to develop a funding formula that recognizes and rewards performance, efficiency and innovation through flexible distribution of funds for every successful education delivery model," added Governor Ducey. "Our goal is to align funding to student achievement – and with that as our target – we will shift the focus to the increased spending in the classroom."

The following organizations will assist the Council through technical and policy assistance: Center for School Funding Portability at the Reason Foundation, Arizona School Boards Association, A for Arizona, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Goldwater Institute, Center for Student Achievement at the Arizona Charter Schools Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials, and the Education Finance Reform Group. Other organizations may participate in the future.

The first meeting of the full Council is scheduled for June 2015, with monthly meetings to follow. 

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