This week, the Arizona Legislature passed a budget that included a raise for teachers and more funding for schools. It led organizers of the teacher walkout to announce an end to their demonstration, which forced schools across the state to close.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation giving teachers a 9 percent raise for the upcoming school year, at a cost of about $300 million dollars. Legislation also requires more than a dozen school districts, including Tucson Unified School District, to levy a secondary property tax to cover the cost of court-ordered desegregation programs.
Arizona 360 invited Pima County Superintendent of Schools Dustin Williams to learn more about how the new budget affects districts in the county.
"This was thrown in under the carpet. And now individuals, approximately 100,000 parcels, all located in the TUSD school district will see their taxes increased," said Williams, who estimated it would add $10 for every $100,000 appraised.
Williams also explained how each district school or charter school is tasked with determining how to make the 9 percent raises work within their teachers’ contracts.
The teacher walkouts prompted the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute to threaten superintendents with a lawsuit. The conservative think tank claims some districts broke state law by coordinating with teachers and closing schools over what it deemed an "illegal strike." Employment attorney Barney Holtzman discussed the difference between a strike and a walkout, and the legitimacy of the Goldwater Institute's claims. “It is a political position, depending on whether you are for or against what is being debated, you would call it a strike or walkout,” explained Holtzman.
Leading up to the passage of a spending bill, Arizona 360 looked at the day-by-day impacts of the walkout. It brought us to Victory Worship Center in Tucson that opened its doors to several hundred students for a #RedforEd day camp; the Capitol where teachers demonstrated as lawmakers began to consider a budget; the Altar Valley School District where instruction never stopped, and to Canyon Del Oro High School, where a math teacher continued to meet with students over the course of the walkout to help them prepare for Advanced Placement exams.
In the days after a Nogales police officer Jesus Cordova was shot and killed in the line of duty, Lorraine Rivera toured the town with Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada to understand the impact on the community.
Nogales had two murders in two months. Prior to that, it had been at least five years since law enforcement in Santa Cruz County had investigated a murder. “We like to think it’s something that won’t be normal, but it worries us because we’re not used to this. We’re not used to seeing this violence,” said Estrada. Cordova was shot and killed by a car-jacking suspect last week. He was the first Nogales police officer killed in 130 years. Before joining the Nogales Police Department, Cordova served in the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department for 11 years.