School superintendents sound alarm over proposed budget

Posted on: March 5, 2015

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Dr. H.T. Sánchez, TUSD Superintendent

Dr. H.T. Sánchez, superintendent of Tucson Unified School District and other educational and community leaders on Thursday urged legislators to fight deep cuts to K-12 education contained in the latest version of Gov. Ducey's budget and asked anyone with an interest in education to contact their legislators and let their voices be heard.

Speakers emphasized the importance of education, particularly Career and Technical Education, to the economic future of the city, state and nation.

Dr. Sánchez said the proposed budget represents a gross inconsistency. While Gov. Ducey has called for a 5 percent shift of funds to the classroom, his proposed cuts the Career and Technology Education amount to instructional funding losses.

"For every student who walks across the hall to a CTE class, that will cost TUSD $330 in loss of funding," he said.

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Kristel Foster, TUSD Governing Board Clerk

Dr. Alan Storm, superintendent of JTED, said the proposed budget would make it impossible for schools to afford to have students enroll in career education.

"That is such a bizarre take on what we talk about as economic development and job development, which is so much of what JTED and CTE does," he said. Dr. Storm said he rarely hears the governor and legislators talk about students and kids.

"We are about kids. We are about education for our children," he said.

In addition to Dr. Sánchez, and Dr. Storm, Thursday's press conference included TUSD Governing Board president Adelita Grijalva, Board Clerk Kristel Foster, Calvin Baker, Vail Unified School District superintendent, Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, Sahuarita Unified School superintendent, Dr. Eugenia "Genie" Favela, Sunnyside Superintendent, Ricky Hernandez, chief financial officer for the Pima County School Superintendent and Mike Varney and Tony Penn from the Tucson Metro Chamber.

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Tony Penn, Tucson Metro Chamber

Calvin Baker said the proposed budget moves Arizona in the wrong direction. He said it damages some of the most successful efforts to develop a highly skilled work force, a point supported by Mike Varney and Tony Penn.

Mr. Varney called the proposed budget "disappointing at best and devastating at worst."  Business owners in Tucson say it's the jobs JTED and CTE train for that they most need. As Mr. Penn said, "In today's economy, business follows talent."

He encouraged legislators to make the investments required in education and skills training so that the state can "roll out the red carpet and let the world know we are open for business."

TUSD Governing Board President Adelita Grijalva said it is unprecedented in her time on the board to see superintendents and business and community leaders come together for a call to action, and she warned that the proposed budget could have long-standing effects.

"We do reach a point where we can't move forward from the ashes. If these cuts are able to move forward, it will take generations of our children in our state to recover."

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Ricky Hernandez, CFO, Pima County School Superintendent

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Dr. Eugenia "Genie" Favela, Sunnyside Superintendent

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Dr. Alan Storm, Superintendent of JTED

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Dr. Manuel Valenzuela, Sahuarita Unified School Superintendent

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Calvin Baker, Vail Unified School District Superintendent