Money Well Spent

Living up to their reputation of spending money in all the wrong places here is the latest banner ad running on the I’m sure all the teachers out there appreciate their hard earned dues going toward failing newspapers to advocate for more of your tax dollars to increase the amount of money the state spends on students.

Currently, Arizona spends approximately $9,700 per student. But for the sake of argument, let’s drop that amount to $8,000/student (I like to be conservative). If teachers deserve a nice healthy salary of say $64,000/year, then it would take 8 students to pay that teacher’s salary. However we know that there are roughly 25-30 students in a class. So the $136,000 question is (17 x $8,000), “Where’s the rest of the money going?”

Perhaps even the bigger question is, “When all the money is gone, what is the AEA going to do then?”


  1. The AEA is like a parasite that takes the lifeblood from it’s host and grows stronger while ultimately making the host weaker. All the time working to be the mouthpiece and brain of the host.

    With that said…..what am going to do with you? You know, Tom Jenney knows, that those numbers are seriously disingenuous and used to hyper inflate the reality of funding. Make your point but at least be honest.

    Using the federal dollars obligated for very specific programs that CANNOT be used for any other purpose is a deliberate manipulation. Just like what the AEA does. Distort reality to rile up the masses.

    Both sides are why we cannot get true educational reform in this state! We have issues to be sure but the debate is never going to rise above the redundant rhetoric and get to real reform as long as the manipulation of perception continues.

  2. Wow DSW. I actually want to know. You just can’t throw that out there. I never thought of it that way. When the Legislature pays for the building renewal and construction, is all the rest going to Administration? that is some b.s. especially considering they actually get about 60% of that 60k a year.

    Most Sports programs and afterschool programs are paid for via bond overrides, which is the individual school district tax payer’s perogative.

    There really isn’t anything else to spend that money on Admin.

    Something smells really bad here and its starting with waste.

  3. Rachael – According to the yearly Arizona Auditor General report here is the average district spending breakdown excluding construction costs:
    Classroom Instruction – 57.3%
    Plant Operations 11.3%
    Administration 9.2%
    Student Support 7.4%
    Instruction Support 5.4%
    Food Service 4.8%
    Transportation 4.4%
    Other .2%

  4. I would also add – if one excludes school construction the total is $6536 per student. Of that the state provides $4800. Obviously the construction money provides the actual classroom.

  5. To those who challenge my number of $9700/student, why don’t you throw your number out and defend it. I see $6536 of which the state is only paying in $4,800. Is that your final answer?

  6. Matthew Ladner says

    The JLBC has very helpfully laid out Arizona K-12 spending, showing an estimated expenditure per pupil for FY 2009 of $9,698

    The total K-12 budget is around $10 billion, and the state has been kicking in what looks to be less than a half billion for facilities before the recent financial crisis.

    I suspect that many school districts supplemented state facility funding to build what very fancy schools (I’ve visited a few), but if so, that is their own decision.

    School districts are authorized to open charter schools and thus rent pre-existing space far more frugally than building Taj Mahals.

  7. kralmajales says

    Typical arguments trying to argue that we really spend “more” on education than we think and we are not really rated behind West Virginia in per pupil spending. Well…we are. The rankings that put us near to dead last on higher ed spending are also not wrong.

    Folks these rankings are not some conspiracy to make Arizona look bad. They are rankings with a common yardstick applied to everyone. While all yardsticks have flaws, we still come out near to the worst…over and over and over again.

    Gosh…it shocks me that some of you just don’t care…and will do anything to keep your taxes among the lowest in the country, despite the disaster that we end up living in because of it.

  8. DSW
    I clearly stated what funds I was referring to. I was not engaging in the per pupil funding argument but rather trying to anwer the question of where the money is going. The 6536 number is what the JLBC claims is total spending from fed, state and local sources for maintenance and operations which excludes capital costs and debt servicing costs. So whatever money spent in addition to 6536 is for those purposes and the remaining amount is spent per the percntage breakdown I provided.

  9. Maricopa GOP says


    It is interesting that you use $64,000 per year as a goal for proper compensation for a good teacher.

    When you look at the Superintendent’s Annual Financial Report and compute their total compensation package, the AVERAGE compensation package for Arizona teachers is $65,000. That is for 36 weeks per year. (Do you get 16 weeks off per year and make that much money?)

    Of course, that is peanuts compared to the pay for administrative office salaries. They have a starting salary of at least six figures in a majority of the districts.

    Funding over the last four years has increased by over forty percent while the percentage to the classroom has declined and the student/teacher ratio has increased. I wonder if the problem is a bloated bureaucracy.

  10. Average salary for AZ teachers is $44,967. Does the $65K number you cite include salary and benefits.

  11. kralmajales says

    I dont know many, if any, teachers that make $65K…maybe if they were at it for 30 years and approach retirement. Maybe…then.

    If it such a great deal Maricopa GOP, then why don’t more of your people do it? I think it might be because the money is not that great, the working conditions are not that great, and that it takes real effort to work with young people and deal with issues of discipline.

    Our teachers need to be paid more…and by the way…getting teachers paid IS getting more money in the classroom. The teachers ARE the classroom.

    But ohhhhhhh gotta pull the union card and the waste card as the perfect way to continue to argue for lower taxes and lower spending on education. The continued poor reasoning behind putting our students behind those in states like WV and SC. Its also why we are falling behind our competitors globally.

    So if there is such good pay, then why do so many GOPers still not enter the field of education and why do so many beat upon it liek a drum.

  12. Heavy sigh and eye roll!

  13. Ann, you are correct that nothing substantive is going to happen if we can’t get past some of these basic issues. I don’t think the situation is as simple as just fiscal conservatives vs. AEA. I have nothing to do with the AEA and my opinions have come from looking into the issue and data to make my own determinations.

    Where the money is going is well known, as I point out above, so questions like what was posited in the original post here leave me puzzled just as the claim that this is merely some union tactic. Many people like myself who are not union members or involved in k-12 education are concerned at the low support of k-12 education in Arizona because we believe that this hurts our communities, is unfair to kids, and in general lowers the quality of life in the state. I don’t know anyone who thinks increasing k-12 funding in the state is the silver bullet to making everything better – far from it. But at the level it is at now I don’t see how things can possibly improve. Yes districts could close all our schools, sell the buildings and land and rent space in strip malls. Would that save money in the long run? – I don’t know. Do I think most people would be highly supportive of that idea? – I highly doubt it.

    A major stumbling block in this area is that many people are highly suspicious of the motives of those who think current funding levels are fine or could even be lower. I know for a fact that there is a segment of those arguing this who would like to see public education ended. I wish they were honest enough to argue that point because if it has merit let’s discuss it. What I fund unconscionable is those that hold this position knowing full well that the numbers they use overstate what money is being spent on yet continue to do so without revealing the real motive. While they are working to see public education ended, thousands of students are getting the short end of the stick.

  14. kralmajales says

    Truly well said Todd. I let my anger get past my ability to say things as eloquently as you just did.

    Not all private schools are good ones. Not all public schools are good ones. Vouchers will mean that the good private schools will just raise their prices even more so that they can get the voucher and what people would pay normally. I can’t afford private school for my child…and I value public schools.

    Just so you know, I grew up pretty hard. Broken family, poverty, and in a state where it is not so easy to “make it”. I went to public schools, learned about college (my family did not go to college), saved, worked, found every bit of aid and loans I could, and, well I made it. I was motivated, I had great high school counselors, I had a family that was poor, but cared about me, and I had a LOT of help.

    You know, I used to think that everyone should have to do it “my way”. I don’t. The inequalities that I faced gave me character, yes, but it was hard AND so many others had their parents pay for their school, could go on trips to Europe, had cars, and simply had to study and play. That is inequality and that is what subsidizing education is all about. Giving people the chance to pull themselves up, the support to do so, then chance to succeed, and some help to do it.

    THAT is what Reagan stood for and what may conservatives that I followed for years stood for. We hated welfare, we loved education as the great equalizer.

    The republican party now thinks that education is welfare…and their reforms, liek it or not, benefit the haves over the have nots.

  15. Finally…some discussion that had relativity to improvement and not just rehashing the tired used up rhetoric of those who have motives that could not be defended against the Jeffersonian concept of public education.

    There has been much discussion and realization of the need to maintain our nation’s infrastructure. Today’s children are our human infrastructure. We cannot expect to get the best result when we look for the low bidder and do not inspect what we expect!

    Reform is necessary. That does not include the wholesale disposal of the public education system and privatization of all delivery of service. It also does not include defending the status quo.

    To go back to the original post, the numbers are wrong…flat wrong and those who use them know it. But, it suits their purpose. And by purpose, I do not mean improvement of educational opportunity for ALL children with the ability for ALL parents to have a local public school of excellence.

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