ARIZONA NEWS

Census: Arizona continued to lag far behind U.S. on school spending

May 28, 2019, 4:22 AM | Updated: 7:05 am
Police shut down streets temporarily, with Red For Ed marchers filling them sidewalk to sidewalk as...
Police shut down streets temporarily, with Red For Ed marchers filling them sidewalk to sidewalk as they moved toward the capitol. (Photo by Jesse Stawnyczy/Cronkite News)
(Photo by Jesse Stawnyczy/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – New Census Bureau figures show that per-pupil spending in Arizona’s public schools was fourth-lowest in the nation in 2017, hampering the state’s efforts in recent years to improve education funding.

The report this week said that Arizona spent $8,003 per student in fiscal 2017, well below the national average of $12,200 that year and just over one-quarter the $23,091 spent per student in New York, the highest rate in the country. Only Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho ranked lower than Arizona.

The state’s ranking came despite the fact that Arizona increased its school spending from fiscal 2016 to 2017 at a faster rate than the nation, with school spending in the state rising by 5.1% compared to a national average of 3.7% that year.

Arizona educators and government officials said the state is heading in the right direction, but they were not surprised by the ranking.

“The District Additional Assistance funding has been diluted for so many years now, and we’re trying to increase that amount and move forward with teacher salaries,” said Heidi Vega, communications director for the Arizona School Boards Association. “But we still need more funding in our classrooms and for other things like social workers, nurses and counselors.”

The DAA, which provides funding for items such as textbooks, curriculum, technology, school buses and some capital funding, has been partially suspended since 2009, according to the Arizona Education Association’s website.

It is one of several areas of school spending that Gov. Doug Ducey has targeted for increases in his proposed fiscal 2020 budget, which includes $164.7 million to give teachers a 5% raise. That would be the second installment on a 20% salary increase by 2020 that was promised last year when teachers staged #RedForEd rallies across the state.

The budget also includes $136 million to restore recession-era cut and $87.8 million for school buildings, according to a statement from Ducey’s office. It said that school spending has increased by $2.7 billion since Ducey took office in 2015, an increase in per-pupil spending of 25% in that period.

Ducey’s budget request calls for $5.6 billion in state funds for education, according to published reports, up from the $3.5 billion the Census said the state spent on schools in fiscal 2017.

Vega said those increases are vital, but that there are issues beyond funding that prevent children from getting an equitable opportunity and need to be addressed.

“Right now we see that there are gaps in Arizona,” she said, pointing to the high number of Latinos in Arizona schools. “Many times just looking at achievement scores, we’re being segregated by socioeconomics.”

Stefan Swiat, spokesman for the Arizona State Department of Education, said the state is moving in the right direction, but he says Arizona schools will not be able to make that jump right away without massive amounts of funding.

“This is why the superintendent ran for office. So we can see more dedicated revenue streams,” Swiat said.

He said Arizona has ranked in the bottom four states for per-pupil spending for at least the last five years, and that “Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is adamant about restoring pre-recession rankings,” Swiat said.

Vega said it helps that Hoffman “is working collaboratively with advocates and associations to get people together to close these gaps and help our children succeed.”

“We want to ensure that we use that voice among other to work with our legislators,” she said.

But Misty Arthur, executive director of the Arizona Federation of Teachers, said the state still has a long way to go and advocates can’t relax now.

“We’re far behind where we were even 10 years ago,” Arthur said. “We need to be diligent, to not settle and fight for our students.”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Pedestrian crossing street killed in Laveen following hit-and-run

Phoenix police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run collision after a pedestrian died Tuesday evening in Laveen Village.
17 hours ago
(Coronado National Forest Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Forest officials warn visitors about shipping container wall at Arizona border

Officials are warning Coronado National Forest visitors about potential safety hazards related to shipping container border wall construction in southern Arizona.
17 hours ago
Shaqueila Hudson (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...
KTAR.com

Woman accused of fatally stabbing father during argument in Phoenix

A woman was arrested for allegedly stabbing her father to death during an argument Tuesday in Phoenix, authorities said.
17 hours ago
(Photos via Buckeye Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Buckeye Police boost reward to $12,000 for tips in fatal hit-and-run of 16-year-old girl

Authorities have upped the reward for tips in the fatal hit-and-run of a 16-year-old girl more than two years ago in Buckeye.
17 hours ago
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)...
KTAR.com

Mesa police fatally shoot man who allegedly drove into patrol vehicle

Police shot and killed a man who allegedly drove into a patrol vehicle outside a Mesa convenience store early Wednesday.
17 hours ago
President Joe Biden speaks about manufacturing jobs and the economy at SK Siltron CSS, a computer c...
KTAR.com

President Joe Biden schedules visit to Phoenix for next week

President Joe Biden will visit a Phoenix microchip plant next week to tout his economic plan, the White House announced Wednesday.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Census: Arizona continued to lag far behind U.S. on school spending