- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona’s top education official said Tuesday she has serious doubts about Gov. Doug Ducey’s timeline for overhauling the state’s complex school financing formulas.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said that while she supports revamping the cumbersome funding formulas, Ducey’s wish to come up with a plan by the end of the year may be far too ambitious.

Douglas said she worries a rush to overhaul the financing formulas will have unintended consequences.

“Do we want to be talking about it for 10 years like some organizations I was involved with when I was on the school board did - I think we can do it faster than that,” she said. “But I think this is an important time in Arizona’s education, that we need to make sure what we do, we do right. And it’s not an easy thing.”

Ducey last month announced the members of his Classrooms First Initiative Council, which is charged with coming up with an interim plan by September and a final proposal by December.

“While I’ve been a strong proponent of looking at our funding formulas for a very long time …. I’m not sure that type of timeline is going to serve us well,” Douglas said.

Douglas is on the council, as are many professional educators. The Legislature would have to change state law to enact the plan.

Douglas made the comments during an hour-long meeting with reporters in a Board of Education office. She also discussed her ongoing legal battle with the Board of Education and her analysis that the new state budget actually cut more funding for charter schools than lawmakers believed.

Her position on the charter school cuts puts her at odds with the Legislature’s official budget analysts, who issued a report last week saying that the budget did not completely cut one element of funding for small charters as Douglas contends.

Douglas has asked Attorney General Mark Brnovich for a formal opinion of what the budget law says. She said she’s under pressure to ignore her own analysis and fund charters bases on what the Legislature thought they were voting on and not what the law actually says.

“And so they want us to just disregard that, but the legislation is what the legislation is,” Douglas said. “And we do not at the department interpret the law, we apply the law.”

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