Based on our analysis of fiscal year 2001 accounting data, Arizona school districts spent 57.7 percent of their dollars in the classroom. Individual district percentages (listed within this report), ranged from 32 percent to 89 percent, with the vast majority of districts falling within 5 percent of the state average. To determine the percentage of dollars spent in the classroom, we used the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’ definition of instruction dollars. In 1999, the most recent year for which data is available, the national average for dollars spent in the classroom was 61.7 percent.
Certain factors appear to affect a district’s percentage of dollars spent in the classroom. Factors associated with higher classroom spending included larger student populations, higher average teacher salaries, and higher teacher experience index ratings. In contrast, higher food service, transportation, and administrative costs were associated with lower classroom spending. Other factors, such as district type, desegregation expenditures, and budget overrides, did not appear to affect the percentage of dollars spent in the classroom.