by Matt Beienburg
March 13, 2019
Nearly a year ago, teachers marched from classrooms to capitols demanding higher pay around the country. But in one state, many school buildings remain emptied of instructors and students alike.
Why are schools across the state of Arizona still empty or underutilized? It’s not because the Grand Canyon State has witnessed a replay of its “RedforEd”-led teacher strikes for a second year in a row a la West Virginia, or because the state’s 20 percent pay raise failed to bring teachers back into their schools after last spring. No, these classrooms and buildings are simply empty because — in a state with ever swelling K-12 enrollments — no one has made the effort to fill them.
In fact, in Arizona, there’s over 1.4 million square feet of vacant and underused space among the state’s district schools. But fortunately for students in Arizona and other states, however, opportunity is knocking on the doors of these empty classrooms: the opportunity for districts to share space, resources, and even talents with partner schools looking for a home.
Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He is also the co-author of the recent report Empty Schools Full of Promise: Exploring the Benefits of District-Charter Co-Location Partnerships in Arizona.