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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials May 26, 2016

3/2/2013 1:07:00 PM
Editorial: Few bright spots in state classroom spending report

Here is the bad news: The amount of state tax dollars that actually wind up in Arizona classrooms has dropped to its lowest level in 12 years.

The even worse news is that most Verde Valley school districts are not even measuring up to this new low standard.

The Auditor General’s Office reports that 54.2 percent of every dollar schools received in 2012 was used for classroom spending. That is down half a percentage point from 2011 and below the peak at 58.6 percent in 2004.

The Verde Valley and Sedona, by comparison, can only boast of two school districts that stand above this low bar of 54.2 percent. Mingus Union rises to the top of the class in the Verde Valley – and is also one of the better ranking schools in the entire state – with 58 percent of its state allocation being devoted to classroom spending. Clarkdale-Jerome is not far behind at 57.5 percent.

Camp Verde Unified and Sedona-Oak Creek Unified districts were just a few percentage points off the new state average with classroom spending levels of 53.5 and 53.4 percent, respectively. Region-wise, the Flagstaff, Humboldt and Prescott unified districts all posted classroom spending percentages that were above the state standard.

At the bottom on the local classroom-spending barrel, according to the Auditor General’s report, were the Beaver Creek and Cottonwood-Oak Creek districts at 51.3 and 50.6 percent, respectively. To Cottonwood-Oak Creek’s credit, however, it actually boosted its classroom spending percentage from 47.8 percent in 2011 to 50.6 in 2012. This increase for C-OC comes at a time when most school districts in Arizona saw their classroom spending percentage decline.

All of the above certainly adds to the discussion about the proposed shared administrative services pact for Mingus and Cottonwood-Oak Creek. The theory always has been that the merging of administrative services and personnel between the two districts would allow for more dollars to flow into the classroom. This same logic would make one think Beaver Creek could benefit by sharing admin services with Camp Verde.

Of course, it’s important to note that such a measure as this is not always an apples-to-apples comparison.

There are so many different variables when comparing a single-school district vs. one that has multiple campuses, and even similar sized school districts. Tiny Beaver Creek, for example, is well below the state standard for classroom spending while equally tiny Clarkdale-Jerome is well above the standard. And among larger school districts, Flagstaff, Humboldt and Prescott unified districts are all above the state standard while Cottonwood-Oak Creek falls well short of it.

In all instances, what’s important is improvement and finding ways to channel more dollars into the classroom. If that can be achieved through shared administrative services pacts, our local school boards owe it to their students and the taxpayers to make it happen.

Related Stories:
• Arizona classroom spending dips to lowest level in 12 years

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 4, 2013
Article comment by: The Truth of the matter is.......

With out the 15 million dollar bailout that Mingus and their board disguised as a bond, this district would be a mess financially. What does Mingus owe in debt, and what does Cottonwood Oak Creek owe in debt is the question that should be asked when wondering who is the best financial management team, or who is the best financial steward of taxpayer funds. Good luck when you ask Mingus the tough questions about dollars in the classroom, they duck every time.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: As Spending Goes Down...Taxes Go Up???

Any mention or need for 100% Voucher for all
students K-9 via their payrents.

Try it...it can/will work.


Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: I hope MUHS board is paying attention.....

I certainly hope that when discussing shared services and/or administration, people demand that Ms U'ren and Mr. Snyder are never given the opportunity to put MUHS in this same boat. Mr Waddle has proven time and time again, that he knows how to run the financial aspects of a district in order to get the maximum amount of money into the district. Please keep that in mind when discussing and making decisions.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: P F

"The share of tax dollars that actually wind up in Arizona classrooms slid again last year, to the lowest level in the 12 years the state has been monitoring."

"In the 12 years since the the state has been monitoring?"

One has to imagine the only reason the 90 dwarves started monitoring classroom spending 12 years ago (really? only 12 years ago?) was to make sure not too much tax money was being spent on education.

They needed a pro football stadium.


Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Tom Casey

Congratulations to Mingus and their leaders,focusing on the students and staff. Tyler Novac and his great arts program is an example .
Keep up the great vision Mingus leaders it is cear you care about teachers and student programs.

Posted: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Article comment by: Crime Wave

Nothing unexpected here. Education takes a backseat again in favor of increased spending for the local and state police, money for prisons, pay increases for state legislators. Then of course there are all those good ol' boys that have contributed to Horne and Brewers superpak fund that need favors returned.

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