How Did Your District Do? Classroom, Operations Spending Rises In Arizona

Every year, the Arizona Auditor General release its annual report on classroom spending. Teachers’ salaries have increased as have those for administrators.

The Auditor General finding highlights:

In fiscal year 2018, Arizona districts spent 54 percent of available operating dollars on instruction—the second consecutive increase in the instructional spending percentage in 14 years. However, since its peak in fiscal year 2004, the State’s instructional spending percentage has declined 4.6 percentage points, while the percentages spent on all other operational areas have increased. Between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, districts’ operational spending increased by $119 million with $82 million of the increase spent on instruction. With the additional instructional spending, between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the State’s average teacher salary increased from $48,372 to $48,951.

The Auditor General’s Office generates a 2-page summary for each district and the State showing their performance on various financial and student measures and graphical summaries of their operational trends.

How did your district do? In this table, each school’s report is embedded with a side-by-side view of instructional versus administration per pupil spending in years 2017 and 2018:

[table id=36 /]

Compared to national averages, in fiscal year 2018, Arizona districts spent about $3,500 less per pupil and allocated their resources differently, spending a lower percentage of resources on instruction and administration and a greater percentage on all other operational areas.

Did you know?

More efficient districts:
• Monitor performance measures to identify areas for improvement (see textbox below).
• Use staffing formulas.
• Effectively use county services or partner with other local schools or governments.
• Have energy conservation plans and limit excess building space, including closing schools when necessary.
• Monitor food prices, maximize the use of food commodities provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and modify menus appropriately.
• Limit food waste by using student input and daily production and usage information to determine meal production.
• Limit overtime and unproductive time by having employees perform other duties.
• Plan bus routes to ensure, where possible, the buses are filled to at least 75 percent of capacity.
• Ensure fuel pumps are secure, monitor fuel usage, and limit bus idling to lower costs.

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. As a result, there are wide ranges of costs within peer groups of similar districts. Our performance audits of school districts have identified practices efficient districts use, as well as practices that make other districts less efficient. Additionally, analysis of 6 measures found 31 of 207 districts had a moderate or high financial stress level. District decision makers can use the details of this assessment in conjunction with other information, such as operational efficiency, to determine possible actions to reduce financial stress.

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Under the leadership of Arizona Daily Independent Editor In Chief Huey Freeman, our team of staff reporters work tirelessly to bring the latest, most accurate news to our readers.