FUSD Legislative Priorities

  • Legislative Priorities


    The Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD) is the largest public school district in Northern Arizona, serving over 8,900 diverse students from preschool through grade 12 in 15 school sites.  With over 1,300 employees, FUSD is the 4th largest employer in the greater Flagstaff community.  

    As a member of the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA), which represents and advocates for the diverse interests of the state’s governing boards and the approximately one million students entrusted to our care, FUSD supports the political agenda adopted at the Delegate Assembly on September 10, 2023.  Additionally, FUSD works with the Education Finance Reform Group (EFRG) and Arizona School Administrators (ASA) to inform and influence policy decisions that affect the services to our students and the working conditions of our staff.

    The Superintendent and Governing Board of FUSD call attention to the following Legislative Priorities for 2024.

    Identify Long-Term Fix to Aggregate Expenditure Limit 

    The Flagstaff Unified School District calls for legislative action to permanently address the issue with the Aggregate Expenditure Limit so that every year, public school districts do not face the threat of making drastic cuts to their budgets. 

    The Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL) for Arizona public K-12 school districts has been a problematic issue, requiring frequent overrides by the Legislature in order to authorize public school districts to spend all of the funds appropriated by the Legislature.  An override of the Aggregate Expenditure Limit for this fiscal year (FY 2024) was included in the education budget passed in the last legislative session. Permanent solutions that have been suggested include a legislative referendum or citizen's initiative, but the associated costs and likely challenges make it doubtful.  An alternative solution calls for a two-thirds majority of legislators to change the cost-of-living index used to calculate the AEL from the gross domestic product implicit price deflator (GDP) to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), resulting in an approximate $1.8 billion increase in the AEL for public school districts.  This proposal preserves the intent of the AEL to ensure spending on K-12 public schools is limited.  While the solution does not guarantee the elimination of the potential need for legislative waivers of the AEL, it significantly improves the situation where annual waivers are required due to the overly conservative use of the GDP formula.

    Address Accountability and Transparency of Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program 

    The Flagstaff Unified School District calls for legislative action to promote financial accountability and transparency and to hold private schools receiving taxpayer dollars to similar standards as public schools. 

    Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, H.B. 2853 expanded the Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program universally for all Arizona students in kindergarten through grade 12.  An ESA is an account administered by the Arizona Department of Education and funded by state tax dollars to provide options for the education of qualified students in Arizona. By accepting an ESA, a student may not enroll in a public district school, charter school, and/or public online school (including summer public school) without paying the school or accept any School Tuition Organization (STO) scholarship or tax credit scholarship. 

    The FY 2024 state budget assumed $625 million of ESA awards for 68,000 students.  The number of Arizona students receiving an Empowerment Scholarship Account is 73,729 (as of 01/22/2024), so costs for the program are expected to exceed the budgeted amount. 

    According to the Quarterly Reports posted online by the Arizona Department of Education, the following are totals of students enrolled in the ESA program who reside within the Flagstaff Unified School District.  Many of these students have never previously attended any FUSD school. 

    2022 Quarter 1 - 33 students

    2023 Quarter 1 - 370 students (first year of universal expansion)

    2024 Quarter 1 - 843 students

    Adequately and Equitably Fund District Schools to at least the National Median per Pupil Funding

    The Flagstaff Unified School District calls for legislative action to provide consistent, dedicated sources of base funding that equips all public schools with adequate support to address the academic, social, and emotional needs of its students.  

    Priorities include:

    • Maximizing state funding for nationally competitive salaries to attract, recruit, and retain talented teachers and staff, increase the pipeline of certified teachers, and increase the diversity of the teaching workforce. 

    • Indexing district additional assistance (DAA) for inflation to address the capital needs of schools.

    • Funding full day kindergarten and preschool programs.

    • Investing in equitable technology and reliable internet broadband access for all students.

    • Supporting social, emotional, and mental wellbeing as a critical component of improving school climate, safety, and learning for all students and staff.

    • Reforming English Language Learner models of instruction to increase integration of English Learners and give schools flexibility and the resources to administer them, including research-based bilingual instruction.



    Updated: 1/25/24