State Capitol News
1:24 am
Wed October 8, 2008

Governor critiques classroom spending

Phoenix, AZ – Governor Janet Napolitano said today she wants more than half of the state's
school districts to explain why they're not spending more money
in the classroom. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.


The most recent figures show the average Arizona school spends
less than 58 cents of every dollar on direct instruction. That
compares with more than 61 percent nationwide. The governor said
she is not saying local officials are wasting money. But
Napolitano said she and her staff may be able to show them better
ways to budget their funds.

(I want to make sure that, at the administrative level, at these
school districts, that they are doing all the same kinds of
things that I'm doing within state government: looking at
contracts, freezing expenditures, postponing training and travel
and all the other sorts of things that you would like to do in a
normal time. But this is not a normal time.)

Mike Smith who lobbies for the Arizona School Administrators
Association, said the big non-instruction cost is for utilities.
And Smith said that state spending on education in Arizona is so
low that he sees little way to shift more dollars into the
classroom.

(The pie is so small that when you say 'We need you to move it
from this piece of pie to that piece of pie' it doesn't work that
way. There's no flexibility in the administrative costs. And
that's the tricky part.)

But Napolitano said she remains convinced there are places to
save.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.