Getting Money Back to AZ Classrooms

Yesterday the AZ Capitol Times’ Yellow Sheet Report (subscription needed to view) highlighted an article in The Federalist regarding spending in Arizona classrooms.  The article was a response to a Washington Post article titled, “Why teachers are fleeing Arizona in droves.”

Patrick Hedger notes that “Schools are a jobs program for adults.”  He writes:

Let’s look at the Mesa Unified School District, the largest in the state. Since 2009, classroom spending has fallen. According to the Mesa district’s budget, spending on “classroom instruction,” which includes teacher pay and benefits, is down over 6 percent. Spending on “classroom supplies” is also trending downward. Yet overall district spending is actually flat since 2009, down less than 1 percent.

It doesn’t take a district-issued iPad to do the math and realize that the money flowing away from the classroom and teachers is being spent elsewhere in the schools. The budgets reveal this to be exactly the case. The budget categories of “student support services” and “other support services” are both up, by 12.4 percent and 4.5 percent respectively. Nearly $100 million flowed to expenditures under the category of “other” in 2013-2014 alone. How much are these schools doing “other” than teaching?

To answer that question, take a look at the job listings and descriptions posted on the Mesa Unified School District’s website. Under the classifieds section, there are open positions for a “catering manager” at the district headquarters, making $11 an hour with full benefits, including a pension and life insurance.

Among the open positions for the Mesa United School District:

Catering Coordinator: $11.30 an hour, with benefits. Presumably needed to supervise the catering manager.

Bus Runner: $10.31 an hour, with benefits. This is not to be confused with a bus driver, which is one of seven different bus-related positions listed.

Sign Painter: $15.60 an hour, with benefits. Only to paint district signs, but not paint over graffiti.

Graffiti Painter: $14.85 an hour, with benefits. Only to cover graffiti, but not paint district signs.

While school administrators use teachers and children as props to gain more funding, the fact is administrators aren’t using the money they currently have to benefit teachers or children.  Arizona needs more accountability from administrators before they can be trusted with additional funding.

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