Arizona teachers could get higher pay if school districts end wasteful spending

Arizona teachers could get higher pay if school districts end wasteful spending, a new Goldwater Institute report shows.

Does raising teacher pay require states to spend more on education? The latest Goldwater Institute report on Arizona school spending shows that may not be necessary: Wasteful and poor spending practices are a major roadblock to higher teacher salaries.

The second in a series of three reports on school financing in the Grand Canyon State, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher’s new paper, “Arizona School Districts Can Eliminate Wasteful Spending to Increase Teacher Pay,” examines spending practices in a range of Arizona school districts. Digging deeply into district performance audits, Butcher illustrates that teacher pay in many districts could be increased without expanding education budgets at taxpayer expense.

“Across Arizona, it’s clear that many districts have the money to raise teacher salaries, if only they would get their financial houses in order,” Butcher said. “Vacant school buildings, too much spending on administrative purposes, transportation, and food service, and opaque desegregation budget practices have helped to perpetuate a system that wastes money that could be used in the classroom or fund a boost in teacher pay.”

And as the report shows, the reallocation of funds used in wasteful ways could make a significant difference in teacher salaries.

For instance, Scottsdale Unified School District teachers could see $3,000 raises if the district made better use of vacant buildings, while Piñon Unified teachers could see $15,800 raises if the district addressed administrative and transportation issues.

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

Excerpt from the report:

In 2014, at the time of Peoria Unified School District’s most recent state audit, Peoria reported more miles in its transportation service (buses and other district vehicles) than were actually traveled. This resulted in state and local taxpayers overpaying the district by $216,119.18.Unfortunately, because of recurring errors in the district’s reporting procedures, the auditor says the district “may continue to be overfunded until it corrects the misreported mileage.”

Read the full report at GoldwaterInstitute.org.

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7122 N. 59th Ave
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Ph: (623) 842-6000
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