With the passage of Senate Bill 1070, a new Arizona law that expands the enforcement of immigration laws, Hispanic families are leaving the state. Clearly, this could have a detrimental financial effect on schools and school districts. However, it could have a positive effect to the bottomline of the Arizona state education budget.
The Arizona Republic cites a 2009 Pew Hispanic Center study that estimates that 170,000 K-12 students in Arizona are children of immigrants. This is a large number when considering that each student is worth $4,404 in state money to local schools. In fact, it equals about $749,000,000.
Local school and school district budgets in Arizona have already taken a massive downturn due to the real estate bubble burst and they may see an even greater hit as families flee the area. The Arizona Republic published an article today highlighting the issue.
The fact at the state level is that a significant reduction of illegal immigrants enrolled in schools will greatly reduce the financial burden to the state budget that is already close to $2 Billion in the red. However, the local school administrators see that schools will suffer:
Losing a share of students does not yield commensurate cost savings for schools, they said. For example, losing 10 students at the third-grade level often won’t necessarily save a teacher’s salary….
From my own standpoint, I see the state of Arizona suffering such enormous economic and social consequences from the massive real estate bubble burst that it is inevitable that schools will encounter a crisis of the magnitude never experienced by a state with less than 100 years of history. The emergence of Senate Bill 1070 just adds one more massive correction that will take place and cause a whole new set of problems and struggles. With or without Senate Bill 1070, either the state will suffer or the local schools will suffer and there are simply no easy choices.