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Education Groups File Suit Over Funding For School Construction, Maintenance

(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
Plaintiffs include four school districts, education advocacy groups and two individuals.

One of the issues lawmakers may have to consider in the budget, if not this year then over the next couple, is funding for school construction and maintenance.

A coalition of education groups Monday morning is filing a lawsuit against the state, arguing the Legislature and governor have essentially created an illegal system for paying for school construction. They met at Landmark Elementary School in Glendale to make the announcement.

With me to explain is Tim Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association, which is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Tim Hogan, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, won a similar lawsuit against the state in 1994. He said at that time the state Supreme Court ruled that funding capital improvements through local tax payers, with things like bonds and overrides, is unconstitutional because it creates a system of rich and poor districts.

"That’s an unfair system," Hogan said. "It’s unfair to schools, it’s unfair to students, and it’s unfair to taxpayers."

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has proposed $17 million in one time funding in next year’s budget to cover school construction and maintenance. At a press conference Monday morning though, Hogan and several plaintiffs argued that’s not enough as immediate capital needs at just Glendale Elementary School District total over $50 million.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.