The latest report by the Goldwater Institute on Arizona school spending shows raising teacher pay does not require states to spend more on education. The trick is to end “wasteful and poor spending practices, which the report notes are a major roadblock to higher teacher salaries.
In his second in a series of three reports on school financing, Arizona School Districts Can Eliminate Wasteful Spending to Increase Teacher Pay, Jonathan Butcher, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher examines spending practices in a range of Arizona school districts.
Butcher found in an examination of district performance audits, that that teacher pay in many districts could be increased without expanding education budgets at taxpayer expense.
“Across Arizona, it’s clear that many districts have the money to raise teacher salaries—if only they would get their financial houses in order,” said Butcher. “Vacant school buildings, too much spending on administrative purposes, transportation, and food service, and opaque desegregation budget practices have helped to perpetuate a system that wastes money that could be used in the classroom or fund a boost in teacher pay.”
Butcher offers an example of wasteful spending the Scottsdale Unified School District. Butcher argues that the District’s teachers could see $3,000 raises if the district made better use of vacant buildings. In the case of Piñon Unified, teachers could see $15,800 raises if the District addressed administrative and transportation issues.
“While recent protests have pointed to education budgets as the hurdle to higher teacher pay, this paper shows that cleaning up bad spending practices could raise teacher salaries by thousands of dollars,” Butcher said. “School districts ought to take steps to eliminate waste in their budgets rather than increase the burden on taxpayers.”
Read the full report here.