In fiscal year 2018, Arizona districts spent 54 percent of available operating dollars on instruction—the second consecutive increase in the instructional spending percentage in 14 years. However, since its peak in fiscal year 2004, the State’s instructional spending percentage has declined 4.6 percentage points, while the percentages spent on all other operational areas have increased. Between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, districts’ operational spending increased by $119 million with $82 million of the increase spent on instruction. With the additional instructional spending, between fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the State’s average teacher salary increased from $48,372 to $48,951.
Compared to national averages, in fiscal year 2018, Arizona districts spent about $3,500 less per pupil and allocated their resources differently, spending a lower percentage of resources on instruction and administration and a greater percentage on all other operational areas.
Although factors outside a district’s control—such as district size, type, and location—can affect its efficiency, some districts operate efficiently and have lower costs despite these factors, while others do not. As a result, there are wide ranges of costs within peer groups of similar districts. Our performance audits of school districts have identified practices efficient districts use, as well as practices that make other districts less efficient. Additionally, analysis of 6 measures found 31 of 207 districts had a moderate or high financial stress level. District decision makers can use the details of this assessment in conjunction with other information, such as operational efficiency, to determine possible actions to reduce financial stress.
In addition to State-wide analysis, this report also contains a 2-page summary for each district and the State showing their performance on various financial and student measures and graphical summaries of their operational trends. Additionally, for the second year, we have prepared a Microsoft Excel file as part of this report that contains the numbers and other information presented in the graphics on the school district and State summary pages. This file can be found under “Additional Documents” on the right side of this page.