Bill To Require Arizona School District Consolidation Advances In Legislature

Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 1:33pm
Updated: Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - 2:34pm
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A panel of Arizona senators has given its OK to a plan requiring school districts to consolidate.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. John Fillmore, an Apache Junction Republican, whose measure would force elementary and high school districts to merge into unified districts by July 1, 2024. Fillmore told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday the issue is one of resources.

"When people have said to me that schools need more money, I've always had the quick comeback they have enough money, and that what we need to do is have them spend it a little bit more wisely," he said.

Among other provisions, Fillmore’s bill would also require county school superintendents to come up with a consolidation plan by the end of June 2022, if the districts haven’t done so themselves, and that plan would not be put to voters.

But for those districts that do consolidate on their own, the bill would allow them to spend more money than would otherwise be allowed for a few years. Fillmore said his measure would make school districts more efficient.

"If we did some consolidation, got rid of the redundancy, duplication, excess waste in the districts, we could have the opportunity to save not just five or 10 or 15 or 20, but I believe hundreds of millions of dollars," he said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved House Bill 2139 yesterday on a 6-3 party-line vote, and now moves on to debate in the full Senate. But there continues to be opposition to the plan.

The Arizona School Boards Association is one of the groups that doesn’t like it, and to talk about why, The Show spoke with Chris Kotterman, the group’s director of governmental relations.

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