State superintendent of schools talks legislative priorities at Chandler Chamber event

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman spoke to Chandler Chamber of Commerce members Oct. 11.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman spoke to Chandler Chamber of Commerce members Oct. 11.

Increased school safety grant funding, dual language immersion programs, early childhood education and special education are all front of mind for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

On Oct. 11, Hoffman told a group gathered for a policy event series hosted by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce she plans to work on those four items during the next legislative session.

Hoffman also said she is prioritizing staff retention in schools, including both teacher and support staff positions, and noted 20% of all educator positions statewide are unfilled, and many districts have a need for more bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

"I've been meeting with both Republican and Democratic legislators already, talking about our priorities for the next session," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said in a recent round of applications for school safety grants that would fund the additions of school counselors, social workers and school resource officers, the Arizona Department of Education received applications from nearly 900 schools across the state. Based on those applications, schools indicated about $97 million of needs, but Hoffman said officials only have $20 million to allocate.

"We are barely meeting the needs of our schools, and we are charged with distributing this in the most equitable way we can," Hoffman said. "Twenty million dollars is clearly not enough. School safety is a bipartisan issue that we can all get behind in all of our communities."

Hoffman said of the schools that submitted applications, 40% asked for counselors, 35% asked for social workers, and the remainder asked for school resource officers.

Hoffman also said increasing funding for special education services is a priority for the Arizona Department of Education. She said special education has been historically underfunded by both state and federal governments, leaving school districts to pick up more of the bills for those services and programs than intended.

"Properly funding special education would free up district dollars," Hoffman said.

Providing more mentorship to new teachers is also a priority Hoffman said she hopes to address in the coming year, as is fostering a partnership with the Department of Economic Security to fill vacant positions in school districts.

Hoffman said the state department of education is assisting in a partnership between Mesa Public Schools and the Department of Economic Security to fill vacancies in the district, particularly those that do not require candidates to have completed higher education.

"I wanted to go statewide," Hoffman said of the new pilot partnership, which began in August. "Since August, through this partnership, the district has already hired 34 new people. This is just where it's starting. I cannot wait to take this statewide."
By


MOST RECENT

Twisted Sugar bakes some specialty cookies. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
See Gilbert, Chandler shops that cater to local sweets lovers

Find the latest news on sweets stores in Gilbert and Chandler.

City of Chandler officials hope to finish long-awaited veterans memorial in 2021

The city's veterans memorial is entering its second and final phase.

Chandler teachers, parents adjust to new year as district braces for enrollment woes

Families, teachers, students and district leaders have adjusted to this unprecedented school year.

The Chandler Museum is opening a Museum Store, and to celebrate the grand opening the museum will host a weeklong event. (Courtesy city of Chandler)
Chandler Museum Store to open Nov. 1

The Chandler Museum is opening a Museum Store, and to celebrate the grand opening the museum will host a weeklong event.

Chandler USD headquarters
COVID-19 school outbreaks rise across Maricopa County; Chandler USD reports 9 cases districtwide

Chandler USD has reported several COVID-19 cases across its campuses.

Banner Ocotillo Medical Center, Chandler's newest hospital, is scheduled to open Nov. 2, Chief Operating Officer Nate Shinagawa said. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Here's what is opening in Chandler in November

See what is opening in Chandler in November.

Aldi will open in November in Chandler. (Courtesy Aldi)
Aldi to open in Chandler and more local business, community news

Read the latest business and community news from Gilbert and Chandler.

Aldi will open in November in Chandler. (Courtesy Aldi)
Aldi set to open in Chandler Nov. 5

Aldi will open in November in Chandler.

Here is what you need to know today about coronavirus in Gilbert. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Gilbert, Chandler see coronavirus increases and more local COVID-19 news

Read the latest coronavirus news from Gilbert and Chandler.

Unemployment claims are slowly decreasing in number in Arizona and in Chandler. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Chandler unemployment trending down from April peak

See how the unemployment rate in Chandler has changed from April to September.

Here are the coronavirus data updates to know today in Chandler. (Community Impact staff)
County reports one new COVID-19 death, Chandler sees increase of 39 cases from previous day

Here is the data you need to know about the coronavirus in Chandler and the rest of the state.