Arizona district, charter schools will lose millions in funding, education department says

Arizona public district and charter schools will face a $266 million funding gap because the state funds distance learning at a lower rate than in-person learning. It’s a gap that only will be partially filled by federal money.

The Arizona Department of Education released numbers this week showing how much schools will need to cut their budgets by for this school year. Mesa Public Schools, the largest district in the state, will see its budget cut by $16 million. Chandler Unified will lose $12 million. Tucson Unified will lose $11.9 million.

School funding is calculated per student in Arizona. In June Gov. Doug Ducey made an executive order that declared distance learning equivalent to online school. Under state law, online school students are funded at a rate 5{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} less than in-person students. Arizona school budgets also were hit this year because an estimated 50,000 fewer students than usual enrolled.

The lower distance learning rate and enrollment declines are a one-two punch for schools.

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