State Capitol News
1:06 am
Fri February 27, 2009

Fewer tax dollars making it to classrooms

Phoenix, AZ – A new report today shows that the percentage of tax dollars that
wound up in the classroom was lower in last school year than at
any time since the state began studying the issue seven years
earlier.

Auditor General Debra Davenport found only 57.3 cents of every
dollar was used for classroom instruction. That is down six-
tenths of a point from last year -- and 1.3 percentage points
from the high hit in the 2003 and 2004 school years. Davenport
said that, in general, larger districts spend a higher percentage
of their cash in the classroom than smaller ones, if for no other
reason than they can spread fixed administrative costs over more
students.

State School Superintendent Tom Horne said the report
buttresses his argument that some of the more than 200 school
districts should be consolidated. And if voters don't approve,
Horne said the Legislature should force the issue. He
acknowledged that will create cries of loss of local control.

"Yes. But you have to measure that against the academic benefit
of spending more money on teacher salaries and less money on
administration."

Horne did say the figures are a bit misleading. He said the
report considers everything from guidance counselors and
librarians to the air conditioning to keep classrooms comfortable
to be a non-instructional costs. He noted that pure
administrative costs among Arizona schools are only 9.2 percent
of the total.