Resource allocation by school districts is and must be a local decision that meets the needs of students in the community and the school. Each year, per state statute, the Arizona Auditor General produces a report on school district classroom spending.
This year’s report continues to emphasize that despite continuous severe budget cuts, our public education leaders remain focused on allocating more dollars to support students in classrooms.
Let’s look at what the data in the report shows.
In the combined services of instruction, student support services and instructional staff support, school districts continue to keep funding at a stable level despite huge cuts to their budgets. In the Auditor-General Report for Fiscal Year 2017, the percentage for instruction, student support services and instructional staff support was 67.7 percent compared to the 68.4 percent in the report in Fiscal Year 2001, the first time the Auditor General completed this type of study. This is a small percentage reduction when we consider the significant cuts to school district funding over this period, including a decade of cuts to capital funding.
And though it’s important for taxpayers to understand where dollars are being spent to meet local priorities for students, there are many measures of a district’s commitment to student learning. The real issue should be student achievement – not how resources are allocated to get there.
The Governor and the Legislature acknowledged in the budget that was passed last year, “classroom” should be redefined as instruction, instructional support and student support. This more appropriate definition includes physical and occupational therapists, reading and math intervention specialists, media specialists/librarians, counselors and social workers.