SB1331, sponsored by Janae Shamp (R-29), would ban school governing boards from restricting or prohibiting the parent of a student from carrying or transporting a firearm on school property if the parent possesses a valid concealed weapons permit. Getting a concealed-weapons permit in Arizona is ridiculously easy. Meanwhile, angry parents are disrupting school board meetings and threatening school staff. Do we really want to arm them? A federal law, the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990, protects nearly every school as a gun-free zone. Part of a package of bills trying to force guns into schools. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1564, sponsored by Steve Kaiser (R-2), would mandate that students at small private schools or who use ESA vouchers must be allowed to try out for interscholastic activities at public schools. Athletics should be something parents consider when choosing a school for their student. ESA vouchers already siphon dollars away from local public schools; it is unreasonable to require them to cover non-attendees’ costs for extracurriculars. When parents opt out of local schools, they opt out of extracurriculars. This bill places an unreasonable burden on public schools, who would be required to include voucher students even though they’ve chosen to go to school elsewhere. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
SB1599, sponsored by JD Mesnard (R-13), would impose penalties of up to $5,000 per day for school districts that don’t post teacher salary information as already required by law. Along with being egregiously excessive compared to the nature of the offense, this mandate does not include a requirement to post a comparison to teacher salaries in other states, nor does it apply to taxpayer-funded, private voucher schools. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.
HB2800, sponsored by Matt Gress (R-4), would fund raises for district and charter teachers who spend more than 50% of the day in classrooms: $5,000 in FY2023-24 ($400 million) and $10,000 in FY2024-25 ($700 million). However, the bill is poorly thought out, with many problems. The lack of flexibility means that, if the coming recession drives cuts to public school spending, districts would be forced to lay off teachers (and increase class sizes) rather than reduce pay to make ends meet. The funds are tied to an “accountability” measure for public school spending, but our state is now spending roughly the same amounts on ESA vouchers every year, which have zero accountability. And these monies would fall under the AEL school spending cap, compounding that problem. We recommend lawmakers instead support HB2779 (Schwiebert, D-2) which was constructed thoughtfully with input from many education experts. That bill has not been given a hearing. Scheduled for House Rules Committee, Monday. OPPOSE.