Arizona's education system facing deep cuts at all levels

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The State of Arizona has a budget to balance, and its going to mean big cuts to all levels of education.

Lawmakers themselves admit the cuts will be painful.

From kindergarten classrooms to university lecture halls, education will suffer most in the state senate's plan, which trims $1 billion from current spending levels.

"I was surprised, a little shocked that they would make additional cuts and make them as deep as they did," said Flowing Wells Superintendent Nicholas Clement, Ph.D.

Superintendent Clement knew his district would have to make cuts, but Thursday's announcement made it clear he may have to dig even deeper.

"Our cuts, personnel wise, will almost will double with the senate version," said Clement.

The senate's plan would also have a major impact at the university level as well. The University of Arizona initially expected a $67 million cut for the fiscal year 2012, but that too will likely go up.

"I know the senate has passed its own budget bill, the senate number to the University of Arizona is just over 92 million," said University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, Ph.D.

As part of the university's contingency plan there will be tuition increases and borrowing from a reserve fund.

"We pledge to take the first 39 million of the 67 as permanent cuts to our operating budget," said Shelton.

Educators warn a budget that keeps attacking education may show short-term gains, but have long-term consequences.

"The universities, all of us as well as K-12, are the future of this state.  If we're going to get the economy going, if we're going to attack good paying jobs not minimum wage jobs, you have to have an educated work force," said Shelton.

The University of Arizona is expected to release its official budget for the 2012 fiscal year Friday afternoon.