PHOENIX - The superintendent of a prominent Arizona school district has already announced his teachers will not be on track to get a 20-percent raise by 2020, as the governor repeatedly promised when he touted his proposal for teacher raises in April.
This week, Tucson Unified's superintendent, Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, announced the new money made available in Governor Doug Ducey's "20 by 2020" plan will be spread out for raises to all staff, not just teachers. That means teachers will get less than a 10-percent raise next year, which is considered the benchmark for Ducey's 20 by 2020 plan.
Critics say the governor painted himself in a corner when he promised 20-percent raises over three years because ultimately he doesn't control the budgets of individual school districts. Tucson Unified may be the first sign of that reality.
It remains to be seen how Governor Ducey's 20 by 2020 platform will help or hurt him politically, but teachers who protested the governor made it clear: They didn't believe it would happen. They will likely use it against him in the coming months.
Answering to critics that the 20 by 2020 plan is destined to go unfulfilled, a governor's spokesperson said on Twitter Thursday the governor's plan was meant to allow districts discretion over spending, that "the plan that passed on May 3 reflected input from teachers and the ed community about ensuring dollars were protected in the base and had some flexibility."
Daniel Scarpinato also tells 12 News the governor acknowledges "the plan was announced one way and passed another way by the legislature." Scarpinato said the way the plan is structured, which gives school districts more discretion of allocation of dollars, will result in "better public policy."
The way the 20 by 2020 formula shakes out, some districts will also get slightly more, and others slightly less, than what's equal to 20-percent raises over three years for teachers.
Yuma Union High School District told 12 News Thursday it got what amounted to 7- to 8-percent raises for its teachers—not 10 percent.
However, they will use money already earmarked for raises to give teachers a total 12-percent raise beginning in the next school year.
All of this still means a big boost overall to teacher salaries, but not necessarily a 20-percent boost for all teachers over three years, as Ducey originally promised.
The governor's office also points out that districts have other money to pull from for teacher salaries, in what's known as "additional assistance."
In Tucson Unified's case,Trujillo told the Arizona Daily Star that those dollars will go toward repairs and supplies. Other districts are expected to also use "additional assistance" for capital needs, as school districts' budgets have been cut in that area more than 75 percent the last decade.