In fiscal year 2007, Arizona school districts’ state-wide classroom dollar percentage was 57.9 percent, which continues a 3-year downward trend. Despite the infusion over the past 6 years of significant state-provided resources directed largely to the classroom, Arizona’s classroom dollar percentage continues to lag more than 3 percentage points behind the national average of 61.2 percent. Arizona’s classroom dollar percentage could have been higher. If districts had continued spending their resources as they did in fiscal year 2001, the additional Proposition 301 and Indian Gaming monies could have raised the State’s classroom dollar percentage to 59.7 percent. However, Arizona school districts’ spending patterns over the past few years indicate districts are likely using Proposition 301 monies to supplant other district monies, and therefore the gap between Arizona districts’ “actual” and “potential” classroom dollar percentages continues to grow.
Compared to national averages, Arizona school districts continue to spend a higher percentage of their dollars on plant costs, student support services, and food services, and a lower percentage on administrative costs. Within Arizona, the primary factor associated with higher classroom dollar percentages continues to be larger student populations. Conversely, higher plant, administrative, student support, and transportation costs were the most significant factors associated with lower classroom dollar percentages. Also within Arizona, higher per-pupil spending does not equate to higher classroom dollar percentages. In fact, districts that spend the most per pupil have lower classroom dollar percentages, on average.
Proposition 301 monies continue to be spent primarily for increasing teacher pay. On average, these monies represented 11 percent of teacher salaries and ranged from $924 to $8,203. In fiscal year 2007, the state-wide average teacher salary increased by only $866. This amount could have been higher. However, as noted above, districts are likely using Proposition 301 monies to supplant other district monies.