SB1223 would force districts to put kids, teachers, classrooms first

peFor administrator-heavy school districts like the Tucson Unified School District, SB1223 would cost administrators dearly. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Steve Smith, (R-Maricopa), establishes a penalty for school districts that are spending less than their peer group districts and have not increased the percentage of classroom dollars.

The Auditor General (AG) is required to establish a school-wide audit team in the Office of the Auditor General to conduct performance audits and monitor districts to determine the percentage of every dollar spent in the classroom by a district (A.R.S. § 41-1279.03). The AG releases a report annually that analyzes classroom and non-classroom spending, which includes administration, plant operations, food service, transportation, student support, and instruction support. In comparing district spending, the AG uses peer groups, which include either districts of  similar size, type, and location.

The primary funding mechanism for districts is funded by the base support level which is determined by calculating a districts weighted student average and multiplying by the base level (A.R.S § 15-943). The base level was $3,373.11 for FY 2015.

Opponents claim that expense classifications are problematic because some expenses are counted as classroom expenses and some are not, however districts have played games with classifications in the past. A change of classification, which has been requested by administrators, would not likely prevent them from engaging in creative classification in the future.

In the Tucson Unified School District little over 49 percent is spent in the classroom. The Auditor General found that over the last five years, “total spending per pupil decreased by 5 percent. Spending in the classroom decreased from 53.4 to 49.2 percent. Spending on plant operations increased substantially, spending on administration increased, and spending on food service, transportation, and student support increased slightly. Spending on instruction support decreased substantially.” This reduction occurred despite the fact that the district closed schools.

In the Mesa Unified School district, which is comparable in size to TUSD, over 56 percent is spent in the classroom. The Auditor General found that over the last five years, “total spending per pupil decreased by 2 percent. Spending in the classroom decreased from 61.4 to 56.3 percent. Overall, spending on transportation and instruction support increased and spending on plant operations, food service, and student support increased slightly. Spending on administration remained fairly stable.”

In the Phoenix Union High School District, which like TUSD receives desegregation monies, 55 percent is spent in the classroom. The Auditor General found that over the last five years, “total spending per pupil decreased by 6 percent. Spending in the classroom varied year to year, decreasing overall from 56.1 to 55 percent. Overall, spending on plant operations increased and spending on food service increased slightly. Spending on administration decreased, while spending on other nonclassroom areas remained fairly stable.”

SB1223 Provisions

1. Requires school districts to identify the classroom dollar percentage it spent according to the most recent AG report prepared.

2. Requires school districts to identify the classroom dollar percentage average of the school district’s peer group for the most recent AG report prepared.

3. Stipulates a school districts base support level to be reduced by $50 multiplied by the weighted student count if both of the following are true:

a) the percentage of classroom dollars spent by the school district is smaller than the percentage identified in the peer group average; and

b) the percentage of classroom dollars spent by the school district is smaller than the previous year’s percentage.

4. Becomes effective on the general effective date.

Related article:

TUSD’s Stegeman calls for reallocation away from administration


  1. This will help Sunnyside District spends around 8 million annually in Administration. Breath of fresh air and just a start I hope on accountability.

  2. If people we able to schedule their appointments around Tuesday mornings it would help to have plain old hard working tax payers at the meetings. It’s a parade of non-profits, who of course can take time off because they live off other peoples money, that show up and kiss bu$$. Ally’s had a few wins in the last few months because we’re showing up. It all helps. The meetings last until around 10:30-11:00. THe money takers show up.beg for $, and then leave. They could care less what goes on in the meetings. Think local. It’s our chance.

  3. Unless you have heard Ally Miller give a presentation or are on her website and mailing list no one is talking about it. Pima County has twice the amount of bonded indebtedness as ALL the other counties in AZ put together. That’s TWICE. Unbelievable. The BOS meetings are very interesting watching the 4 bobble heads and how they treat Ally. ADI is the only source that is reporting truth on this situation.

    • We could really use a PAC that represents the interest of the citizens who are being financially screwed by Pima County. I agree, most people don’t even realize they’re being ripped off. Ignorance of this is the primary reason these crooks are able to get re-elected and continue their unethical practice of tax and spend without any fiscal restraint.

  4. Frog, all you got to do is tell them to look at their tax bill, their water and sewer bill and the bond monies that the county owes. Also add in the tax monies that the BOS have given away to buy votes and curry favor with their cronies. If I am not mistaken Pima County has the biggest bond debt in the state yet they voted in the pit bull mahall and want to put a 600 million dollar bond issue on the ballot. Even the liberal dims are choking on that POS.

  5. Do we have any hope that the newly elected Republican Chairman will help with encouraging people to run that actually have principles? It would be a refreshing change if the GOP actually backed some candidates selected by local citizens and fully supported them. School Board, Tucson City, & Board of Supervisors. All of them need change. It seems Elias & Bronson are vulnerable. Let’s go after them now. Start early. Educate the voters.

  6. As long as the major newspaper in this Baja, AZ is in the bag for Grijalva and her clan and simply refuses to do any investigative reporting then you will continue to see crap like this happen not only in TUSD but the COT and Pima County as well. The voters have a chance to change the dynamics but simply refuse to get off their ass and vote or even be informed. Aren’t you so happy Devilsown?

  7. The worst of it is this. One TUSD site has totally marginalized refugee students. These are students from war zones in which they have been traumatized by experience that no child should be put through. The Language Acquisition Department decided to divide the class because of size, which makes perfect sense. All of this was decided before Christmas. However, the site administrator decided to put the newly arranged ELD students in two classrooms, each at the opposite ends of the campus. During one of the instructional hours, class is held in one of the ELD teacher’s classrooms during the planning period and that teacher is expected to take the substitute’s place if one cannot be found, which happens often. Instead of seeing to it that a permanent teacher was hired immediately, the site administrator is satisfied with day after day substitute teachers for these ELD students. These children have already endured terrible hardships in their short lives and came to the US in hopes of a better, productive life. And this is how TUSD treats them? Their parents don’t know enough English to defend their children’s rights to an equal educational opportunity and even if they did, they would be afraid to speak up for fear of retribution from some governmental entity. Who will speak for these children to have an equal educational opportunity?

    • TUSD cares more about people in the country illegally. Refugees who are here legally due to legitimate asylum needs are not their concern. It’s sad, but they’re not from south of the border so Grijalva and her cronies don’t care.

  8. The Gruijalva clan has to be scared to death, but what the hell, “laws, we don’t need no stinking laws,” we will continue to do what we want to make sure that every child gets a diploma, is a victim, is poor and is signed up for as many federal and state benefit programs so that they can be part of the successful 49%

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