This year, Arizona schools are spending less on students than they have in the past 16 years. Schools in Tucson are no exception. For the 2016 fiscal year, Tucson Unified School District spent just 48% of its budget directly on classroom expenses (i.e. teacher pay, classroom supplies and activities like band or choir). That figure is down 5% since 2001.
In a report from the State Auditor General's Office, Arizona districts spent about $3,300 less per student than the national average.
In the past 8 years, spending per student has gone down in every school district in the Tucson area.
- Marana: down 3.4%
- TUSD: down 4.6%
- Amphitheater: down 4.7%
- Sunnyside: down 6.4%
State-wide, teachers are getting paid almost $3,000 less than they were in 2011, and class sizes continue to increase.
Last may, voters passed prop 123, which was supposed to give districts $250 million, but the report by the State Auditor General reports that details on how or where that money was spent is not clear because it was put in a fund with other money.
Altogether, the report said all of the spending decreases add up to about $422 million not spent on students, but officials say that money from prop 123 could help in the coming years.
One area Arizona schools are excelling: Schools in our state do spend more on student support (i.e. Counselors, social workers, and nurses) than the national average. Experts say that may be because Arizona's poverty rate is also higher than the national average.