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Report: Wasteful spending by Arizona school districts impacts teacher pay

(Public Domain Photo)

PHOENIX — Wasteful expenses including disproportionately high rates for administration, transportation, underused buildings and desegregation programs were seen as factors contributing to underwhelming average teacher salaries.

This finding came in a report from the Goldwater Institute examining spending practices in school districts across Arizona.

Goldwater Institute senior fellow Jonathan Butcher said that there are ways for teacher pay to be increased without raising taxes to fund education budgets.

“While recent protests have pointed to education budgets as the hurdle to higher teacher pay, this paper shows that cleaning up bad spending practices could raise teacher salaries by thousands of dollars,” Butcher said in the report.

“School districts ought to take steps to eliminate waste in their budgets rather than increase the burden on taxpayers.”

The report says that Pinon Unified teachers in the Navajo Nation could see a whopping $15,800 raise by adjusting wasteful spending on administration and transportation and that not finding a use for vacant buildings could provide teachers of Scottsdale Unified School District with $3,000 raises.

In Arizona, 18 districts received $211 million through local tax assessments for desegregation efforts, an amount of money Butcher said was spent on “opaque practices.”

“(One) district could not demonstrate that these monies were spent to directly address the violations previously discussed due to its lack of a formal desegregation plan or related programs,” the article states.

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