PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer is proposing an $8.9 billion spending plan for next year, including a first-in-the-nation system of tying state aid for public schools to academic performance, an increase of nearly $400 million.

As expected, the governor wants $4.4 million immediately to hire 50 new workers for Child Protective Services and another $18.7 million to add 150 more. The agency currently has 1,075 caseworkers.

There also is another $48.6 million for things like emergency child placement and foster care.

Brewer also is proposing more money for the state's three universities. But much of that is dependent on whether the schools meet performance standards for things like the number of students who graduate.

But the big change is going to be funding for public schools.

The state will continue to provide dollars based on the number of students in each school. But the base amount will decrease slightly.

Instead, the system envisions giving extra dollars to schools who have shown achievement by being graded A, B or C by the Department of Education.

Schools are evaluated on a 200 point system, with half the score determined by the percentage of students passing the Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards tests given at different grades. Bonus points are available for graduate rates, reclassification of students as English proficient and improvements in graduate rate.

The other 100 points are awarded based on academic growth, both of all students with emphasis on growth at the bottom 25 percent.

John Arnold, the governor's budget director, said the way the system would work is that a school that got 130 points -- a B rating -- would get about another $175 per student on top of the approximately $5,000 a year in basic aid. If it remained at 130 points the next year, it would continue to get the extra $175, but no money for improvement.

Conversely, Arnold said a school with a score of 80 -- a D -- would get no achievement money. And if it managed to increase by 10 points the following year, it would still be rated D and still be ineligible for those funds.

But by virtue of the increase, it would get an academic performance bonus equal to about $375 per student.

Read more in tomorrow's Star

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.