The Arizona Auditor General released a special study, Arizona School District Spending, Fiscal Year 2016, on Monday which shows that in fiscal year 2016, Arizona districts spent 53.5 percent of available operating dollars on instruction. This is the lowest percentage spent on instruction since the Arizona Auditor General began reporting on this in fiscal year 2001.
The percentage spent on instruction has declined both during years of increased and decreased overall spending.
Since its peak in fiscal year 2004, the State’s classroom dollar percentage has declined 5.1 percentage points, while the percentages spent on all other operational areas have increased. Although the impact of a declining classroom dollar percentage varies by district, it can be seen state-wide in lower teacher pay and larger class sizes.
In May 2016, voters passed Proposition 123, which provided districts with approximately $250 million of additional resources in fiscal year 2016. However, because these monies are commingled with other monies, it cannot be determined whether or how the monies were spent. Further, because the monies were not available to districts until after the vote, it is likely that a large portion of these monies were not spent in fiscal year 2016.
Although factors outside a district’s control—such as district size, type, and location—can affect its efficiency, some districts operate efficiently and have lower costs despite these factors, while others do not. Finally, Arizona school districts spent about $3,300 less per pupil than the national average and allocated their resources differently, spending a lower percentage of resources on instruction and administration and a greater percentage on all other operational areas.
Check back later for ADI’s report on your school.