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How much do Arizona taxpayers annually provide each student?

Written by Subject: Education: Government Schools
by Vicki Murray and Susan Aud
Center for Educational Opportunity
Goldwater Institute Policy Brief #06-02

April 17, 2006

In January 2005, the Goldwater Institute and the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation jointly produced A Guide to Understanding State Funding of Arizona Public School Students to bring simplicity, transparency, and accuracy to Arizona public school finance by detailing the underlying funding formulas and mechanisms. Like the 2005 study, this analysis examines updated financial data from the Arizona Department of Education’s multiple accounting systems: the Uniform System of Financial Reporting (USFR), the Student Accountability Information System (SAIS), and the Superintendent’s Annual Financial Report (SAFR). This policy brief also describes the changes that have occurred in Arizona funding between the 2002-03 and 2003-04 fiscal years.

The state does not synthesize its multiple accounting systems, making it hard for the public to know how much is actually spent on public school students and difficult for policymakers to obtain accurate figures to inform sound education policy. For example, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, says the state spends $5,222 per student, and Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” ranking claims Arizona spends $6,331.2

The online K-12 Funding Index, has been updated with fiscal year 2003-04 Arizona Department of Education financial data. With the online database, policymakers and the public can readily access the most accurate per-student funding figures—by both student and district type—for all 218 regular Arizona public school districts. The only resource of its kind in Arizona, the Index breaks down state equalization base funding for students into four categories, and non-equalized district funding into per-student amounts by local, county, state, and federal funding categories.

Full Text of "Opening the Books: 2006 Annual Report on Arizona Public School Finance" (PDF, 129 KB)

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Watch the KPNX Channel 12 News report on "Opening the Books"

And if you are interested in the original report that started all the edu-socialist shrieks!!!! . . . Rankings cloud real school indicators, an opinion column by Vicki Murray, Arizona Republic, March 27, 2005, and "A Guide to Understanding State Funding of Arizona Public School Students."

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