The state treasury plans to allocate extra money to help families send their children to private and parochial schools. As Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports, the "voucher" funding is greater than what the state uses to keep kids in traditional public schools.
The voucher system was promoted, in part, to save the state money. The vouchers would be equal to 90% of what the state was paying to send children to public schools. Until now, state schools chief John Huppenthal interpreted that as meaning 90% of what was given in actual aid per student. So, students switching from public schools received less funding than those switching from charter schools. Now, Huppenthal has decided that all should receive 90% of charter school aid - a figure that is $1,000 more than state aid to public schools.
Agency lobbyist Chris Kotterman said the failure of lawmakers last month to enact Huppenthal's request to spell that out in law does not matter. "They refused to change the language," Kotterman said. "Not refused. They just didn't. So, what we have is this poorly worded, fairly ambiguous statute that we're left with, the same as we were before this whole mess began."
However, state treasurer Huppenthal has decided to go with the more expensive model. A spokeswoman for the Arizona Education Association says a lawsuit is being considered in response to Huppenthal's action.