Portion of Arizona Education Dollars Actually Spent on Instruction Hits a New Low

Categories: News
By Labpluto123 via Wikimedia Commons

The percentage of money that Arizona school districts are spending on actual classroom instruction hit a new low in 2013.

The Arizona Auditor General has been monitoring this figure only since 2001, but Arizona districts spent less than 54 percent of their available operating dollars in the classroom in 2013 -- the lowest percentage since the monitoring began.

"Each year since fiscal year 2004, districts have decreased the percentage of their resources they allocated to the classroom," the report says. "At the same time, the percentages allocated to administration, plant operations, food service, transportation, student support, and instruction support have all increased."

While Arizona's percentage spent on instruction is less than 54 percent, the national average in 2011 (the latest year available) was more than 61 percent. In the last 13 years, the highest portion that's actually been spent in Arizona classrooms was nearly 59 percent in 2004.


The difference, according to the auditor general: "Had districts continued directing resources into the classroom at the same rate they did in fiscal year 2001, they would have spent an additional $357 million in the classroom in fiscal year 2013."

And although the non-classroom spending has gone up, the percentage spending by Arizona districts on administration is about the same as the 2011 national average. It's the other costs -- plant operations, food service, transportation, student support, and instruction support -- that are making up the difference.

Districts that are described as "more efficient" were able to direct more funding towards the actual education. Here's how the auditor general described the differences:
  • Administration -- More efficient districts monitored performance measures and used staffing formulas, while less efficient districts had costly benefit packages and higher staffing levels.
  • Plant operations -- More efficient districts typically had energy conservation plans and monitored performance measures, such as building capacity utilization, while less efficient districts operated schools far below designed capacity and did not monitor energy consumption.
  • Food Service -- More efficient districts maximized use of free federal commodities and adjusted staffing levels based on industry standards for meals per labor hour, while less efficient districts did not obtain best food prices and had poorly written vendor contracts.
  • Transportation -- More efficient districts monitored performance measures and adjusted routes to ensure that buses were full, while less efficient districts paid drivers for time not spent working and failed to monitor vendors for accurate billing and effective performance.
One of the main impacts of less classroom spending is fairly obvious -- classroom sizes.

"Since fiscal year 2009, the number of students attending Arizona school districts has decreased 28,000 students, or 3 percent, while the number of teachers has decreased by 4,700, or 8.6 percent," a report summary states. "As a result, the State's average class size has increased during this time from 17.1 to 18.3 students per teacher."

In addition to classroom spending in Arizona being below the national average, the total per-pupil spending in the state is also well below the national average.

Click here to get the full report.

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Lucia Perry
Lucia Perry

Just remember, Citizens of Animal Farm: All animals are Equal But Some animals are more equal than others!


When one of my sons was in third grade I went to a paren teacher conference, the school told me what brand name drug they wanted to put my third grade son on, when I asked for thier licsense to practice medicine they told me I would have to get the prescription from my sons doctor.

I told the Teacher that my son was very smart, and asked me questions that I couldn't answer, and I doubted that she could either, I then asked the teacher to show me something hanging aroud the class room walls that was actually done in the class room she could not.

My son had told me that the teacher spent a large part of the school day giving out, and policing homework.

In todays world both parents must work full time to pay bills, and support the children.

How about if the teachers sent less, and easier home work, and spend more time doing thier professional TEACHING while they have our children at school?!

To: Common sense returning to our School System.

Michael Schilling
Michael Schilling

Yep, Arizona is doing everything in its power to destroy education. I would highly recommend, that anyone looking into an education degree....SERIOUSLY RECONSIDER!!!!

Jessie Garcia
Jessie Garcia

Republicans are out to destroy the public school system, they want to funnel our tax dollars into private schools only their kids are qualified to attend...They want to keep underprivileged kids dumb and out of higher education so they have plenty of cheap uneducated labor/future Republicans.

Tyburn Gallows
Tyburn Gallows

And they privatized some of the sub systems which has messed up a bunch of shit, too. Oh well, as long as someone's making money!


One of the most disgraceful things about Arizona is how little it spends educating children.  Only three states — only Oklahoma, Idaho, and Utah — spend less per child than Arizona does.  And don't try and tell me that the money is spent more efficiently than Alabama or Mississippi does or because some of the northern blue states have unionized teachers.  I'm not buying that.  There is no public outcry for good education in this state and our future will suffer because of it.


Policy makers have lost sight of the purpose of public education. It's purpose is to create citizens who can think for themselves, not to turn out employees for businesses. 


so they are taking my tax dollars to build a private school across the street from me in arizona city.(50 acres) 20 of them stolen!

taking private land through eminent domain and promising the moon and a free I-pad for every mook that signs up.

a school that will produce students unfit for even military service!(online is most of thier income)

i smell another jane hull type of give away of my tax dollars!

the state privatized our prisons....how is that working out?

Ben Franklin was the one to push for public education to keep the "effeminate elite"from being the only ones to go to school.

now the effeminate elite are robbing/gaming the public school system for PROFIT!!!!!!!!!!

i remember the :effeminate elite as the denocrats years ago,now its the republican/teabaggers!

Flyer9753 topcommenter

And people wonder why so many stupid ideas and actions come out of Arizona....

Thanks for nothing Republicans

oh, and before anyone rags on my political snipe there... Republicans run this state and have for years - about time you start taking some responsibility for your actions


What this State needs to reveal is that by an amazing coincidence, charter school administration is much higher per pupil, than the regular public school systems. And thank you for mentioning that administration is more than bureaucrats at the central district offices. Much more student support services are being spend now due to federal and state mandates to local districts. Charters are spending $583 per student more than conventional public school systems. This only comes out to $82,000,000 more spend on administration per pupil than public schools. And of course if Johnny or Ashley leaves the charter school and returns to the regular public schools they must take them back but, no admin dollars follow them back. This data doesn't say how much of the charters admin money leaves the State to pay for for profit charters "profiteering" CEOs.


@Jukes it aint the teachers,its the stupid parents that expect the system to do their job

kids are the product of their parents!

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