funds to be set aside by Legislature for language instruction
March 7, 2008
Mary Jo Pitzl
should move quickly and direct $40 million in next year's budget to
English-language education as part of a strategy to satisfy a federal court
order, says the attorney representing students in the legal battle over language
Even if it's not enough to meet all the needs of English-language learners, the
$40 million "is better than nothing," Tim Hogan said in a filing to U.S.
District Judge Raner Collins.
Hogan's filing sets the stage for a Monday hearing before Collins on when the
state must have an adequate funding plan in place to educate English-language
learners. A state law requires schools to offer four hours a day of
English-language instruction beginning with the fall semester. Lawmakers faced a
March 4 deadline for a spending plan but have asked for an extension to April
Earlier this week, state schools superintendent Tom Horne submitted a $40.6
million budget request to the Legislature for the English-language programs.
Almost all of the money would be used to hire additional teachers, he said.
Hogan noted that there's little reason for "blind insistence" on the March 4
deadline, given the extension request was made just days before it hit. Instead,
he said he could agree to a March 18 deadline, at the latest.
Schools are already behind in their ability to hire the teachers needed to meet
the beefed-up language-instruction requirements, Hogan said. He is representing
students in the Flores vs. Arizona lawsuit, which is in its 16th year.
The $40 million request fell far short of what school officials say they need.
In January, they estimated they'd need $300 million for extra costs.
Hogan said the $40 million would be a good start and noted in his filing with
the court that the extra money could always be appropriated later.