NE Valley Times

NE Valley Times

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Arizona public school system facing criticism for misplaced priorities


By Terry Davis | Mar 19, 2020

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Arizona’s publicly funded schools continue to spend a “lower percentage of resources on instruction and administration and a greater percentage on all other operational areas,” according to a new Auditor General’s report.

Taxpayer dollars continue to fund education in the state, but some would argue that the money is being spent in the wrong areas and recently, this spending has been under a microscope. Teachers salaries have risen in recent years, and money continues to be spent on instruction, but Arizona school districts spent 53.6% of their operating dollars on operational areas. Districts last year spent the lowest percentage of their operating dollars on classroom instruction since at least 200.1.

“Since its peak in fiscal year 2004, the State’s instructional spending percentage has declined 3.9 percentage points, while the percentages spent on most other operational areas have increased," the Auditor General's report read. "Between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, districts’ operational spending increased by $475 million with $310 million of the increase spent on instruction."

Criticism for spending in specific areas may not be the whole picture. Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, spoke about the financial health of the Arizona public school system.

"The governor has talked since day one about the need to look at where we’re spending dollars that are already in the system, but he’s also talked about the need for more dollars in the system as a whole and that’s what we need to look at first," Scarpinato said.

Arizona school districts spend less than national averages in all areas of education.

"Arizona schools are doing good work with very little support from the state," said Andrew Morrill, president of the Arizona Education Association. 

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