Carlat: Know the facts about schools, development


Fact 1: Arizona cities are not permitted by law to fund schools, and cities have no authority over the construction of new schools, the location, capacity, or operations of schools.

Fact 2: Arizona cities are not permitted by law to stop growth. Arizona does not allow cities to establish conservation borders, preservation corridors, initiate zoning, or take any action that may diminish private property rights or the value of State Land.

The Arizona Constitution grants authority over schools to the state through local school district governing boards. As political subdivisions of the state, school districts create and manage district budgets, maintain and manage school properties, and among other important responsibilities, acquire future school sites to meet the demands of a growing community.

Although Peoria has four separate school districts within our boundaries, the city has no control over their day-to-day functions or growth plans. As school districts respond to growth, they do so with the funding provided by State Law and the will of their district voters.

Arizona became a state in 1912 and at that time, Congress provided for the sale of State Land as a means to fund K-12 education.

With more than half of Peoria left to be developed, growth remains one of our most pressing challenges, which is why the city of Peoria is constantly planning for our future. We expand water infrastructure systems, increase public safety, plan transportation networks, and work closely with private property owners to ensure their development meets the high standards that we have established for our community.

When new growth is discussed, it is often accompanied by concerns regarding the increased burden of new residents on local schools. While Arizona State Law prohibits cities from stopping or limiting growth, we understand the impact that new residents have on a community and have long-standing policies in place to ensure developers work with school districts on the impacts of their development.

School districts are included in development review discussions and the city provides monthly permit and trend data to help schools stay informed and gauge growth. This allows the school governing boards to have the most updated data so they can take steps to plan for anticipated growth.

Peoria is a great city with great school districts inside and around our borders. For these, and many other reasons, growth is expected to continue. At the city of Peoria, we consider planning for the future a critical function. I know that our school districts remain dedicated to doing all that they can to ensure our students have the facilities and resources they need to succeed.

The city of Peoria has long recognized the importance of working closely with our school districts and has established strong relationships to ensure we continue to collaborate as much as legally possible to best serve our growing populations.

Editor's note: Cathy Carlat is the mayor of Peoria.