The state Legislature and Arizona school districts will be in court-mediated talks soon over the hundreds of millions of dollars the state was ordered to give schools in back payments.
The two "voluntarily agreed" to participate in the process, which will be mediated by a panel of three Arizona Court of Appeals judges, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. What happens inside those walls will be confidential.
Last summer, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ordered Arizona to immediately hike public schools' funding by nearly $317 million a year—this would have cost the state more than $2 billion over the next five years.
The same judge is also considering ordering Arizona to give schools $1.3 billion in back payments in funding the state did not provide since 2009.
The state is currently appealing.
Gov. Doug Ducey mentioned the issue in his budget proposal—$74 million to settle the lawsuit, which is considerably less than what the court ordered.
The state Legislature has continuously argued that it cannot afford the payments and that these would become a burden to taxpayers, but the public schools say the state should be able to figure it out.