Arizona schools lag in classroom spending, survey finds
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 1, 2006
They also spend less on administration costs, annual report says
Pat Kossan


Arizona schools spent less money in their classrooms than other states and more on electric bills, transportation, running cafeterias, paying nurses and counselors, and maintaining buildings, according to an annual report released Thursday. In 2004-2005, schools spent an average 58.4 percent of their operating budget directly in classrooms, nearly unchanged from the previous year and below the national average of 61.3 percent, the state Auditor General's report shows.

Classroom spending includes teachers; supplies such as pencils, papers and textbooks; and student activities such as athletics, field trips and choir.

In some categories, Arizona's 2004-2005 average spending remained above the 2003 national averages available.

 Schools spent 11.4 percent maintaining buildings and grounds, higher than the 9.5 percent nationally.

 Spending on counselors and nurses continued to grow, up to 7 percent, compared with 5.2 percent nationally.

 Preparing and serving meals cost state schools an average of 4.8 percent of their budgets, well above the 3.9 percent national average.

 Transportation cost 4.1 percent of school budgets, compared with 4 percent nationally.

Spending on principals, superintendents and business operations, however, continued to drop in 2004-2005. Arizona schools have fewer administrators per student than the national average and spent an average 9.5 percent of their budgets on administration. That's below the 2003 national average of 11.1 percent.

The report also found that a voter-approved sales tax generated $291 million for classroom expenditure. Schools spent 93.5 percent of that money on teacher pay and benefits.

The report is at