PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Governor Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday that all school district and charter schools in Arizona "following all state laws and remaining open for in-person learning" would be eligible for new grant funding to boost per pupil spending. The total grant is for $163 million.
The funding was made available through the American Rescue Plan, and will be distributed to district and charter schools that are following Arizona state laws as of August 27 and throughout the remainder of the school year. Distributions will be made through the Education Plus Up Grant, whose goal is to give every K-12 public and charter school the opportunity to receive up to $1,800 per student. According to a release from the Governor's Office, the federal government provided additional funding to schools in need during the pandemic, but the allocation resulted in significant disparities across schools.
“Parents have worked tirelessly over the past year and a half to keep their kids on track," said Gov. Ducey. "Parents are in the driver’s seat, and it’s their right to make decisions that best fit the needs of their children. Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged — mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t. These grants acknowledge efforts by schools and educators that are following state laws and keeping their classroom doors open for Arizona’s students. My thanks to legislative leadership for working collaboratively over the last couple of months to put more money into K-12 education and ensure schools are in compliance with state law.”
The governor's announcement follows a judge's ruling Monday that the Phoenix Union High School District can keep its mask requirement for now, despite Gov. Ducey's law barring such mandates. The governor's new law doesn't take effect until Sept. 29. The law didn't take effect in late June when the state Legislature approved the measure because it didn't get the two-thirds approval needed to take effect immediately.
Nearly a week ago, several prominent Arizona Republicans issued a joint letter asking Gov. Ducey to withhold funding and begin legal action against school districts that are not following state laws. Several public universities and school districts, PUHS included, have issued mask mandates for indoors on school campuses in response to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases and the Delta-variant.
Minutes after Gov. Ducey's announcement, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema responded to a tweet on Twitter expressing her concerns.
This is the most absurdly dangerous and anti-science step @dougducey has taken (and that’s saying a lot, 2020).Until kids under 12 have access to the vaccine, what are parents supposed to do? Just hope their kids don’t get sick and end up in the ICU? https://t.co/8f6IOqtwHX— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) August 17, 2021