Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 12, 2007


Host: Robert Stieve

Public Safety Tax


  • Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris talks about how his department will benefit from a new sales tax increase approved by Phoenix voters.
Guests:
  • Chief Jack Harris - Phoenix Police Department
  • David Lujan - Lawmaker


View Transcript
>>> Tonight on "Horizon," Phoenix voters raise taxes to improve public safety. A state commission has a plan to spend less on school administrators and more on classroom instruction. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

>> "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>> Robert Stieve:
Good evening. I'm Robert Stieve. Welcome to "Horizon." Phoenix voters have improved a sales tax increase to pay for more police officers and firefighters. Joining me to talk about how the Phoenix Police Department will benefit from its change is its Chief Jack Harris. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon." It was a good night last night for the Phoenix Police Department.

>>Jack Harris:
It was a great night for the department and hopefully the whole community.

>>Robert Stieve:
Appropriate that it occurred on the anniversary of September 11th, and the Proposition One passing overwhelmingly, 70\% of the voters approving this influx of money for new officers. Although it did pass overwhelmingly, there are still 30\% of the people who voted no. What would you say to those folks and what will you tell those voters about what they will get for their money?

>> Jack Harris:
Well, I don't think in listening to the debates that I heard about the proposition that the voters, any of the voters, even the ones who voted against it, were opposed to the proposition because of the purpose of it. It was just that they felt there might have been other ways to obtain the money other than an additional tax, but I think that universally almost everyone that I heard speak on the subject was positive about the purpose of the tax, which was to increase public safety.

>>Robert Stieve:
Talk a little bit about, it is 500 total people, personnel, but how will that be divided? Is that officers on the street? Staff people? How does that get divided up?

>>Jack Harris:
It is 600 people total. 100 will go to the fire department. 400 sworn police officers for the police department, and then an additional 100 support staff that will also be civilian support staff for the police department.

>>Robert Stieve:
And what are the current staffing levels right now at the Phoenix Police Department?

>>Jack Harris:
Well, given the day, that changes from day-to-day because of retirements and people graduating from the academy, but approximately 3,250 supports and another 1,100 support.

>>Robert Stieve:
Is the department fully staffed? You're getting this new influx of personnel. Are you able to keep up with the vacant positions, so to speak?

>>Jack Harris:
We're trying. We're currently running about 70 to 90 people that we have vacant positions for right at the moment. But that changes, like I said, every day. When a class graduates, it adds 25 or 30 people to our staffing levels, but at the same time people are retiring. But in general, we feel like by the end of this year that we will have maybe 15, 20, vacancies, as we go into the new year, but then that will be the real challenge.

>>Robert Stieve:
As the proposition is written, we have 24 months to fill these positions. Do you know what happens after 24 months to that money if the positions are not filled?

>>Jack Harris:
Well, the positions -- we're required to fill the 200 sworn in '08 and other 200 in '09 as well as the 100, and these are approximations, because it depends on how much is sold in the city, because it is based on sales tax. We're guessing that it will generate that number of positions, but at the end of two years, the tax continues, the money would continue to be spent to fill the vacancies until they are filled and it also includes equipment.

>>Robert Stieve:
Quickly, one more question. Is this enough money? I mean is it ever enough? Is this -- considering the rate of growth in this city, is this going to help this department keep up with the growth?

>>Jack Harris:
I think it will. Our growth has been about 100,000 people over the past few years, and we have continued to stay at about two officers per thousand residents, and we will stay at about like that. Is it enough? I would say, you know you could probably double the size of the police force and there would still be plenty of work for them to do, but I think our staffing levels will certainly be adequate.

>>Robert Stieve:
Chief Harris. Thank you very much. And good luck in the future.

>>>Robert Stieve:
A state commission wants to combine 90 elementary and high school districts into as few as 23. It is an effort to cut the cost of administration and put more money into classrooms. Affected districts have until the end of this week to comment on the plans. Producer David Majure takes us to a Tempe district.

>> David Majure:
Kyrene de la Mariposa is one of 25 schools in the Kyrene elementary school district.

>>David Schauer:
We are a highly successful school district. We have 22 excelling schools. We have some of the highest percentage of dollars going into the classroom. Some of the lowest percentage of dollars going to administrative overhead, and that is something that we have worked very hard to achieve. And any scenario that we look at compromises that.

>>David Majure:
The scenarios Dr. Schauer is talking about are plans to merge his district with up to two others. One plan combines Kyrene with Tempe elementary and the unified districts --

>>David Schauer:
And the other is to have half of the high schools go to Tempe elementary and half with Kyrene. That would be a three into two district plan.

>>David Majure:
The unification plans are the work of the redistricting commission. It was established by state law in 2005 to decide if and how to combine elementary and high school districts to form fewer unified districts that served kids from kindergarten to high school. -- And taking advantage of economies of scale.

>>Rae Waters:
I think what you find in our districts, Kyrene, and Tempe Union; we're already at a size where the economy scales have kicked in. There are some districts that might help, but in our situation, you put all of the districts together and you have 47,000, 44 to 47,000, depending on the numbers.

>>David Majure:
Rae Waters is a member of the governing board. She and the superintendent are skeptical that merging their district with others will produce significant academic or financial benefits.

>>David Schauer:
I wrote an article recently and it was called "what are we trying to fix?" while we're trying to be open minded, we do not see the advantages to either plan.

>>Rae Waters:
We know we need money to do this.

>>David Majure:
She said merging Kyrene and the two other Tempe districts could cost as much as $8 million on salaries alone.

>>Rae Waters:
The high school district is higher than the elementary district so we have to bring all of the teachers up to that salary and that could come to about $8 million.

>>David Majure:
As far as educational benefits that may be derived from a fully integrated curriculum, Kyrene says they're already there.

>>David Schauer:
We work very hard to have partnerships with them already. So, in a way, we are unified. We aren't formally the same district, but we talk about our curriculum, the resources we use, we talk about how we teach the kids, and teachers continually meet with each other to see to it that kids do have that k-12 experience.

>>David Majure:
Bottom line says Schauer; don't fix what is not broken.

>> David Schauer:
It might make sense in some places, you know. If you have a really small district with 100 kids and there is a neighboring district with maybe 3 or 400, you know, there could be some real benefits there, but I think the real issue in Arizona is about funding schools. So, until we have really comprehensive, educational finance reform, and higher levels of funding, you know, any initiative like this is really just going to be abandoned.

>>Robert Stieve:
For more on redistricting, Larry Lemmons spoke with state lawmaker David Lujan and Marty Shultz, chairman of the school district redistricting commission.

>>Larry Lemmons:
So Mr. Shultz, you said you have an update from the video piece that we just saw?

>>Marty Shultz:
There has been a lot of community activity in the Tempe metropolitan area and the Tempe city council has recommended to the redistricting commission that we unify the three districts into one district. There is a parent group that was led by dick foreman who has been a member of the school boards and very active, and I think the parent group has given us models and criteria as to how to proceed. I think there has been a lot of positive movement and thought given to this. We appreciate that and we're looking forward to analyzing all of the data.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Mr. Lujan, you originally voted for this bill in the legislature. Can you give us a background on what the thought was at that time about why it was needed?

>>David Lujan:
When you look at the theory behind the school redistricting and what it is trying to accomplish, reduce administrative cost, put more money in classrooms -- it sounded like a great idea. I think most Arizonians when they look at that say it looks like a great idea. The problem, what has been proposed by the commission, the conclusion that most districts across the state and most Arizonians are going to come to when they look at this, it is not in the best interests of our students. This is actually going to diminish the quality of education our students now have.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Do you think there are too many districts in Arizona?

>>David Lujan:
Sure, we have a lot. There are some states that have more, some less. I think the thing to look at is the districts that we have, are they successful? And I think right now, particularly urban school districts in Arizona are pretty successful in terms of comparing them to the national trend. The trends in Arizona for most urban school districts in Arizona, their academic improvements are going in the right direction, and in all of the indicators, and you want to look at for academic success for most driven school districts are going in the right direction. I think a lot of people are saying what problem are we trying to fix because I think right now the school districts are doing a pretty good job with the current system.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Mr. Shultz, basically the same question. Do you think there are too many districts? What did the commission want to accomplish when all was said and done?

>>Marty Shultz:
Interestingly enough what the commission wanted to accomplish is what representative and chairman of the Phoenix Union board -- he has a lot of titles -- Lujan just talked about, but it is not theory. I couldn't disagree more with David with regard to his previous comments, because what we have proven, based on the data that the legislature and the governor asked us to compile is that the 227 school districts in Arizona is a number that grew up historically because of all of the small communities, but if we use, for example, the Phoenix Union high school district, since we have the chairman, there is a superintendent of that district and there is 13 elementary school districts that feed into that district. You have 13 superintendents, besides the one -- you have 13 transportation programs, 13 this, 13 that. They are not as well organized in terms of efficiency as they could be, because what we have found, and the auditor general of the state of Arizona has demonstrated this, we have the data, is that we could actually invest a lot more money in the classroom. Because we're investing in overhead and noninstructional activities -- in some of those districts that feed into David's Phoenix Union district, they don't get past 50\% of all of the money they're granted by the property taxpayer in the state invested in the classroom. To me, and to my colleagues and to other people who have looked at this that is really a crime. That has to do with teacher salaries, which could be improved. That has to do with class sizes which could be reduced. That has to do with putting your resources where they count, that's at the school site. So, I don't disagree that the administrators and the school boards have done all they can do and they're making progress, but in Arizona with the effort to try to teach a million kids, we need to use our money as wisely as possible, and I think we have proven, shown by the data, that school district redistricting and the plans that we have promulgated, the plans we have put forward so far are pretty good plans. The school board --

>>Larry Lemmons:
We will get back to that in just a second. Could you talk specifically about your own reservations about the district -- the commission's plans for the Phoenix union high school district, what do you not like about their plans for that district?

>>David Lujan:
Our district has a number of concerns. Some of the major ones, one is that it will create a lot of poor districts property tax wise. The way our schools are funded, a component of that is property tax wealth that they have. The proposals put forth by the commission, you will have some of the poorest school districts in the state that are being proposed, and in converse, and you will have wealthy districts. It creates inequities. That is a major concern. It will dilute minority representation -- designed to make sure we have sufficient minority representation in making the decisions for our large number of minority students that go to the school district. The proposals put forth by the commission we believe will reduce the minority representation on governing boards. One of the things that I am particularly concerned about, and what Mr. Shultz talks about when he talks about reducing administrative costs and creating the economy of scale, I disagree with that. I think the proposal will dilute the economies of scale that we now have. As an example, we have a number of programs in our district to address dropouts and special education and English language learners. We can spend the cost of that throughout our district. The proposal put forth by the commission will break up the district into five smaller districts. Those resources will be divided up and you're not going to have our students the same type of resources that they currently have with the larger district.

>>Marty Shultz:
Well, I think that the proposal that we have for Phoenix, which is a little unique, is actually a very effective proposal, and doesn't create the kinds of divisive activities that David is concerned about. For example, with regard to rich and poor school districts, the same factors when we divide them up, the same factors are in play right now. The Arizona legislature has by virtue of its formula created haves and has knots, because you still have rich districts that are able to get overrides and other districts that have lower property values that have a harder time. Nothing changes there. We believe we have created a greater equalization. We have done a couple of things. We created K-12 districts, which we do not have now. We will reduce the size of not only the administrative load, but increase the size of the school district to spread the costs over a larger base, thereby using the fixed costs for the necessary administration and busing and that kind of thing, but putting more money as a percentage of the total into the classroom. It is our belief that this will improve education. I really do appreciate the school boards looking at this from their isolated -- the Phoenix district -- our responsibility under senate bill 1068, the law that David and his colleagues passed was to look at the big picture and see how we could improve. The auditor general of the state of Arizona has tracked for the last six years the investments that the school districts have made in the classroom. What we're finding is the smaller school districts are unable, just by pure economics, to invest money into the classroom, and they've got to by virtue of having administrative costs invested in that side --

>>David Lujan:
If I could, just a couple of other things. He had mentioned earlier about the teacher salaries. Phoenix union we have some of the highest teacher salaries in the state. That is not the same -- the same cannot be said of the elementary districts that feed into Phoenix Union. -- most likely what is going to happen for Phoenix union teachers is their salaries will be decreased because the school districts, while he makes it sound like it is a good thing, but on paper, in reality, the school districts will not have the funding to bring the elementary schoolteachers to the same salary our high school teachers have. It is not just governing boards that are opposed to this. Governing boards are elected by communities and to the parents in those communities, and I can tell new Phoenix Union I have not heard anybody out crying that we are opposed to this redistricting proposal. I think that will be the theme throughout the state. Although school district governing boards are coming out in the majority against the redistricting proposals. You are not hearing a lot of people complaining about that. I think a lot of people once they look at this will agree this is not good for our students.

>>Larry Lemmons:
If we could make it a little broader, the process after this, after September 15th, a lot of districts were supposed to give you their concerns or whether or not they approve it or not. Then we will have to have elections. Can you talk about that process?

>>Marty Shultz:
The way this was set up, the school redistrict commission of 13 people, appointed by the president of the senate, speaker of the house and the governor, will look at all of this data and information from the school boards and from the school districts, and we're going to do that in a very respectful way because we do respect their opinion. Then we have the awesome task of making the final recommendations by the end of this year, December 31st technically, and those recommendations for unifications go on the ballot. Anybody who is a registered vote, I think we have 2.5 million in the state now, maybe half of those will be in play here, and they will have a chance to vote on a specific plan.

>>Larry Lemmons:
If people don't like a specific plan, can you then force another election to make sure that someone -- some plan does get enacted?

>>Marty Shultz:
Well, the school boards themselves could actually get together and form their own unifications and go to the voters and ask permission to do this. It is not our forcing. We provide the opportunity all over the state. I think there are 92 school districts that will probably be recommended for unification.

>> Larry Lemmons:
If you have three districts and two like the plan and one doesn't, that negates the particular plan, doesn't it?

>>David Lujan:
Yes, if I could say, one of the problems relating to Phoenix union, the proposal is to divide us into five smaller districts. The voters, what they will be asked to look at are, I live within the Osborne school district. I will be asked do I want to see Phoenix union broken up into -- my section of the district put into Osborne school district. If the majority of the voters in my district approve that, but say the majority of the voters in another part of the plan do not approve it, then the position that Mr. Shultz is taking is that those areas that have been approved will go into play, whereas those that haven't will not go into play. I think that that creates a real problem that could be challenged legally down the road should that come into reality. As a voter, I am looking at either the whole thing or nothing at all. I wanted to see, if I am voting to think that the district is going to be divided up into five groups, and it only is broken up into three, that is a different thing that I voted on than what was actually presented. I think that could be a real problem.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Do you foresee that problem?

>>Marty Shultz:
I think it could get complex because of the number of school districts in play. I think it will be easily understood by the voters and they will make the decision. I would like to ask a question, and that is if the school board doesn't like the division into five and we think there is justification for it, do you have an alternative or are we just about the status quo here?

>>David Lujan:
Well, one of the things that our board did in responding to the commission is we said, you know, one thing you can look at as an alternative is making one large district, combining the elementary schools that feed into the Phoenix Union and making one large district. As a board we did not come out and endorse that but said it was something you could look at. One of the concerns I have, some of the elementary school districts that feed into Phoenix Union are doing an excellent job. Madison elementary district has always been an outstanding district. One of the things we have to look at is just the history of Arizona, yes; we have a lot of school districts. It is just the way it is. That doesn't mean it is not working. These small elementary districts are responding to the unique needs of their neighborhoods and communities, and that is why they're successful and I don't know if we want to change that.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Thank you very much gentlemen. Obviously this isn't going away any time soon.

>> Announcer:
State revenues declining, how will this impact the state? How will lawmakers handle the situation? A state lawmaker will talk about declining tax revenues. An interview with former ambassador Dennis Ross. It is all on "Horizon," Thursday, at 7:00.

>>Robert Stieve:
Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday evening. I am Robert Stieve. Good night.

>> If you have comments about "Horizon," please contact us at the addresses listed on the screen. Your name and comments may be used on a future edition of "Horizon."

>> "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

school District Redistricting


Guests:
  • Chief Jack Harris - Phoenix Police Department
  • David Lujan - Lawmaker
Category: Education

View Transcript
>>> Tonight on "Horizon," Phoenix voters raise taxes to improve public safety. A state commission has a plan to spend less on school administrators and more on classroom instruction. Those stories are next on "Horizon."

>> "Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>>> Robert Stieve:
Good evening. I'm Robert Stieve. Welcome to "Horizon." Phoenix voters have improved a sales tax increase to pay for more police officers and firefighters. Joining me to talk about how the Phoenix Police Department will benefit from its change is its Chief Jack Harris. Thank you for joining us on "Horizon." It was a good night last night for the Phoenix Police Department.

>>Jack Harris:
It was a great night for the department and hopefully the whole community.

>>Robert Stieve:
Appropriate that it occurred on the anniversary of September 11th, and the Proposition One passing overwhelmingly, 70\% of the voters approving this influx of money for new officers. Although it did pass overwhelmingly, there are still 30\% of the people who voted no. What would you say to those folks and what will you tell those voters about what they will get for their money?

>> Jack Harris:
Well, I don't think in listening to the debates that I heard about the proposition that the voters, any of the voters, even the ones who voted against it, were opposed to the proposition because of the purpose of it. It was just that they felt there might have been other ways to obtain the money other than an additional tax, but I think that universally almost everyone that I heard speak on the subject was positive about the purpose of the tax, which was to increase public safety.

>>Robert Stieve:
Talk a little bit about, it is 500 total people, personnel, but how will that be divided? Is that officers on the street? Staff people? How does that get divided up?

>>Jack Harris:
It is 600 people total. 100 will go to the fire department. 400 sworn police officers for the police department, and then an additional 100 support staff that will also be civilian support staff for the police department.

>>Robert Stieve:
And what are the current staffing levels right now at the Phoenix Police Department?

>>Jack Harris:
Well, given the day, that changes from day-to-day because of retirements and people graduating from the academy, but approximately 3,250 supports and another 1,100 support.

>>Robert Stieve:
Is the department fully staffed? You're getting this new influx of personnel. Are you able to keep up with the vacant positions, so to speak?

>>Jack Harris:
We're trying. We're currently running about 70 to 90 people that we have vacant positions for right at the moment. But that changes, like I said, every day. When a class graduates, it adds 25 or 30 people to our staffing levels, but at the same time people are retiring. But in general, we feel like by the end of this year that we will have maybe 15, 20, vacancies, as we go into the new year, but then that will be the real challenge.

>>Robert Stieve:
As the proposition is written, we have 24 months to fill these positions. Do you know what happens after 24 months to that money if the positions are not filled?

>>Jack Harris:
Well, the positions -- we're required to fill the 200 sworn in '08 and other 200 in '09 as well as the 100, and these are approximations, because it depends on how much is sold in the city, because it is based on sales tax. We're guessing that it will generate that number of positions, but at the end of two years, the tax continues, the money would continue to be spent to fill the vacancies until they are filled and it also includes equipment.

>>Robert Stieve:
Quickly, one more question. Is this enough money? I mean is it ever enough? Is this -- considering the rate of growth in this city, is this going to help this department keep up with the growth?

>>Jack Harris:
I think it will. Our growth has been about 100,000 people over the past few years, and we have continued to stay at about two officers per thousand residents, and we will stay at about like that. Is it enough? I would say, you know you could probably double the size of the police force and there would still be plenty of work for them to do, but I think our staffing levels will certainly be adequate.

>>Robert Stieve:
Chief Harris. Thank you very much. And good luck in the future.

>>>Robert Stieve:
A state commission wants to combine 90 elementary and high school districts into as few as 23. It is an effort to cut the cost of administration and put more money into classrooms. Affected districts have until the end of this week to comment on the plans. Producer David Majure takes us to a Tempe district.

>> David Majure:
Kyrene de la Mariposa is one of 25 schools in the Kyrene elementary school district.

>>David Schauer:
We are a highly successful school district. We have 22 excelling schools. We have some of the highest percentage of dollars going into the classroom. Some of the lowest percentage of dollars going to administrative overhead, and that is something that we have worked very hard to achieve. And any scenario that we look at compromises that.

>>David Majure:
The scenarios Dr. Schauer is talking about are plans to merge his district with up to two others. One plan combines Kyrene with Tempe elementary and the unified districts --

>>David Schauer:
And the other is to have half of the high schools go to Tempe elementary and half with Kyrene. That would be a three into two district plan.

>>David Majure:
The unification plans are the work of the redistricting commission. It was established by state law in 2005 to decide if and how to combine elementary and high school districts to form fewer unified districts that served kids from kindergarten to high school. -- And taking advantage of economies of scale.

>>Rae Waters:
I think what you find in our districts, Kyrene, and Tempe Union; we're already at a size where the economy scales have kicked in. There are some districts that might help, but in our situation, you put all of the districts together and you have 47,000, 44 to 47,000, depending on the numbers.

>>David Majure:
Rae Waters is a member of the governing board. She and the superintendent are skeptical that merging their district with others will produce significant academic or financial benefits.

>>David Schauer:
I wrote an article recently and it was called "what are we trying to fix?" while we're trying to be open minded, we do not see the advantages to either plan.

>>Rae Waters:
We know we need money to do this.

>>David Majure:
She said merging Kyrene and the two other Tempe districts could cost as much as $8 million on salaries alone.

>>Rae Waters:
The high school district is higher than the elementary district so we have to bring all of the teachers up to that salary and that could come to about $8 million.

>>David Majure:
As far as educational benefits that may be derived from a fully integrated curriculum, Kyrene says they're already there.

>>David Schauer:
We work very hard to have partnerships with them already. So, in a way, we are unified. We aren't formally the same district, but we talk about our curriculum, the resources we use, we talk about how we teach the kids, and teachers continually meet with each other to see to it that kids do have that k-12 experience.

>>David Majure:
Bottom line says Schauer; don't fix what is not broken.

>> David Schauer:
It might make sense in some places, you know. If you have a really small district with 100 kids and there is a neighboring district with maybe 3 or 400, you know, there could be some real benefits there, but I think the real issue in Arizona is about funding schools. So, until we have really comprehensive, educational finance reform, and higher levels of funding, you know, any initiative like this is really just going to be abandoned.

>>Robert Stieve:
For more on redistricting, Larry Lemmons spoke with state lawmaker David Lujan and Marty Shultz, chairman of the school district redistricting commission.

>>Larry Lemmons:
So Mr. Shultz, you said you have an update from the video piece that we just saw?

>>Marty Shultz:
There has been a lot of community activity in the Tempe metropolitan area and the Tempe city council has recommended to the redistricting commission that we unify the three districts into one district. There is a parent group that was led by dick foreman who has been a member of the school boards and very active, and I think the parent group has given us models and criteria as to how to proceed. I think there has been a lot of positive movement and thought given to this. We appreciate that and we're looking forward to analyzing all of the data.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Mr. Lujan, you originally voted for this bill in the legislature. Can you give us a background on what the thought was at that time about why it was needed?

>>David Lujan:
When you look at the theory behind the school redistricting and what it is trying to accomplish, reduce administrative cost, put more money in classrooms -- it sounded like a great idea. I think most Arizonians when they look at that say it looks like a great idea. The problem, what has been proposed by the commission, the conclusion that most districts across the state and most Arizonians are going to come to when they look at this, it is not in the best interests of our students. This is actually going to diminish the quality of education our students now have.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Do you think there are too many districts in Arizona?

>>David Lujan:
Sure, we have a lot. There are some states that have more, some less. I think the thing to look at is the districts that we have, are they successful? And I think right now, particularly urban school districts in Arizona are pretty successful in terms of comparing them to the national trend. The trends in Arizona for most urban school districts in Arizona, their academic improvements are going in the right direction, and in all of the indicators, and you want to look at for academic success for most driven school districts are going in the right direction. I think a lot of people are saying what problem are we trying to fix because I think right now the school districts are doing a pretty good job with the current system.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Mr. Shultz, basically the same question. Do you think there are too many districts? What did the commission want to accomplish when all was said and done?

>>Marty Shultz:
Interestingly enough what the commission wanted to accomplish is what representative and chairman of the Phoenix Union board -- he has a lot of titles -- Lujan just talked about, but it is not theory. I couldn't disagree more with David with regard to his previous comments, because what we have proven, based on the data that the legislature and the governor asked us to compile is that the 227 school districts in Arizona is a number that grew up historically because of all of the small communities, but if we use, for example, the Phoenix Union high school district, since we have the chairman, there is a superintendent of that district and there is 13 elementary school districts that feed into that district. You have 13 superintendents, besides the one -- you have 13 transportation programs, 13 this, 13 that. They are not as well organized in terms of efficiency as they could be, because what we have found, and the auditor general of the state of Arizona has demonstrated this, we have the data, is that we could actually invest a lot more money in the classroom. Because we're investing in overhead and noninstructional activities -- in some of those districts that feed into David's Phoenix Union district, they don't get past 50\% of all of the money they're granted by the property taxpayer in the state invested in the classroom. To me, and to my colleagues and to other people who have looked at this that is really a crime. That has to do with teacher salaries, which could be improved. That has to do with class sizes which could be reduced. That has to do with putting your resources where they count, that's at the school site. So, I don't disagree that the administrators and the school boards have done all they can do and they're making progress, but in Arizona with the effort to try to teach a million kids, we need to use our money as wisely as possible, and I think we have proven, shown by the data, that school district redistricting and the plans that we have promulgated, the plans we have put forward so far are pretty good plans. The school board --

>>Larry Lemmons:
We will get back to that in just a second. Could you talk specifically about your own reservations about the district -- the commission's plans for the Phoenix union high school district, what do you not like about their plans for that district?

>>David Lujan:
Our district has a number of concerns. Some of the major ones, one is that it will create a lot of poor districts property tax wise. The way our schools are funded, a component of that is property tax wealth that they have. The proposals put forth by the commission, you will have some of the poorest school districts in the state that are being proposed, and in converse, and you will have wealthy districts. It creates inequities. That is a major concern. It will dilute minority representation -- designed to make sure we have sufficient minority representation in making the decisions for our large number of minority students that go to the school district. The proposals put forth by the commission we believe will reduce the minority representation on governing boards. One of the things that I am particularly concerned about, and what Mr. Shultz talks about when he talks about reducing administrative costs and creating the economy of scale, I disagree with that. I think the proposal will dilute the economies of scale that we now have. As an example, we have a number of programs in our district to address dropouts and special education and English language learners. We can spend the cost of that throughout our district. The proposal put forth by the commission will break up the district into five smaller districts. Those resources will be divided up and you're not going to have our students the same type of resources that they currently have with the larger district.

>>Marty Shultz:
Well, I think that the proposal that we have for Phoenix, which is a little unique, is actually a very effective proposal, and doesn't create the kinds of divisive activities that David is concerned about. For example, with regard to rich and poor school districts, the same factors when we divide them up, the same factors are in play right now. The Arizona legislature has by virtue of its formula created haves and has knots, because you still have rich districts that are able to get overrides and other districts that have lower property values that have a harder time. Nothing changes there. We believe we have created a greater equalization. We have done a couple of things. We created K-12 districts, which we do not have now. We will reduce the size of not only the administrative load, but increase the size of the school district to spread the costs over a larger base, thereby using the fixed costs for the necessary administration and busing and that kind of thing, but putting more money as a percentage of the total into the classroom. It is our belief that this will improve education. I really do appreciate the school boards looking at this from their isolated -- the Phoenix district -- our responsibility under senate bill 1068, the law that David and his colleagues passed was to look at the big picture and see how we could improve. The auditor general of the state of Arizona has tracked for the last six years the investments that the school districts have made in the classroom. What we're finding is the smaller school districts are unable, just by pure economics, to invest money into the classroom, and they've got to by virtue of having administrative costs invested in that side --

>>David Lujan:
If I could, just a couple of other things. He had mentioned earlier about the teacher salaries. Phoenix union we have some of the highest teacher salaries in the state. That is not the same -- the same cannot be said of the elementary districts that feed into Phoenix Union. -- most likely what is going to happen for Phoenix union teachers is their salaries will be decreased because the school districts, while he makes it sound like it is a good thing, but on paper, in reality, the school districts will not have the funding to bring the elementary schoolteachers to the same salary our high school teachers have. It is not just governing boards that are opposed to this. Governing boards are elected by communities and to the parents in those communities, and I can tell new Phoenix Union I have not heard anybody out crying that we are opposed to this redistricting proposal. I think that will be the theme throughout the state. Although school district governing boards are coming out in the majority against the redistricting proposals. You are not hearing a lot of people complaining about that. I think a lot of people once they look at this will agree this is not good for our students.

>>Larry Lemmons:
If we could make it a little broader, the process after this, after September 15th, a lot of districts were supposed to give you their concerns or whether or not they approve it or not. Then we will have to have elections. Can you talk about that process?

>>Marty Shultz:
The way this was set up, the school redistrict commission of 13 people, appointed by the president of the senate, speaker of the house and the governor, will look at all of this data and information from the school boards and from the school districts, and we're going to do that in a very respectful way because we do respect their opinion. Then we have the awesome task of making the final recommendations by the end of this year, December 31st technically, and those recommendations for unifications go on the ballot. Anybody who is a registered vote, I think we have 2.5 million in the state now, maybe half of those will be in play here, and they will have a chance to vote on a specific plan.

>>Larry Lemmons:
If people don't like a specific plan, can you then force another election to make sure that someone -- some plan does get enacted?

>>Marty Shultz:
Well, the school boards themselves could actually get together and form their own unifications and go to the voters and ask permission to do this. It is not our forcing. We provide the opportunity all over the state. I think there are 92 school districts that will probably be recommended for unification.

>> Larry Lemmons:
If you have three districts and two like the plan and one doesn't, that negates the particular plan, doesn't it?

>>David Lujan:
Yes, if I could say, one of the problems relating to Phoenix union, the proposal is to divide us into five smaller districts. The voters, what they will be asked to look at are, I live within the Osborne school district. I will be asked do I want to see Phoenix union broken up into -- my section of the district put into Osborne school district. If the majority of the voters in my district approve that, but say the majority of the voters in another part of the plan do not approve it, then the position that Mr. Shultz is taking is that those areas that have been approved will go into play, whereas those that haven't will not go into play. I think that that creates a real problem that could be challenged legally down the road should that come into reality. As a voter, I am looking at either the whole thing or nothing at all. I wanted to see, if I am voting to think that the district is going to be divided up into five groups, and it only is broken up into three, that is a different thing that I voted on than what was actually presented. I think that could be a real problem.

>>Larry Lemmons:
Do you foresee that problem?

>>Marty Shultz:
I think it could get complex because of the number of school districts in play. I think it will be easily understood by the voters and they will make the decision. I would like to ask a question, and that is if the school board doesn't like the division into five and we think there is justification for it, do you have an alternative or are we just about the status quo here?

>>David Lujan:
Well, one of the things that our board did in responding to the commission is we said, you know, one thing you can look at as an alternative is making one large district, combining the elementary schools that feed into the Phoenix Union and making one large district. As a board we did not come out and endorse that but said it was something you could look at. One of the concerns I have, some of the elementary school districts that feed into Phoenix Union are doing an excellent job. Madison elementary district has always been an outstanding district. One of the things we have to look at is just the history of Arizona, yes; we have a lot of school districts. It is just the way it is. That doesn't mean it is not working. These small elementary districts are responding to the unique needs of their neighborhoods and communities, and that is why they're successful and I don't know if we want to change that.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Thank you very much gentlemen. Obviously this isn't going away any time soon.

>> Announcer:
State revenues declining, how will this impact the state? How will lawmakers handle the situation? A state lawmaker will talk about declining tax revenues. An interview with former ambassador Dennis Ross. It is all on "Horizon," Thursday, at 7:00.

>>Robert Stieve:
Thanks for joining us on this Wednesday evening. I am Robert Stieve. Good night.

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