Arizona's Per-Pupil Education Spending Estimated to Be the Lowest in the Nation

Arizona spends the fewest dollars per student on education than any other state in the country, according to an estimate.

People often mention that Arizona's per-pupil spending rate is the third- or fourth-lowest in the nation, based on census information that is usually about two years old by the time it's released every year. In other words, Arizona had the fourth-lowest level of per-pupil spending back in 2011, according to data released less than a year ago.

See also:
-Portion of Arizona Education Dollars Actually Spent on Instruction Hits a New Low

The latest estimates come from the National Education Association, which is the teachers' union.

For the 2012-13 school year, the NEA ranks Arizona last in per-pupil spending. The NEA also ranked Arizona last in its report released last year, for the 2011-12 school year.

The NEA estimates that Arizona spends $7,021 per student in average daily attendance (the rankings are also measured by fall enrollment, instead of average attendance, and Arizona's still last).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, it's estimated that Vermont spends more than $26,000 per student. Thirty-three states, plus the District of Columbia, spend more than $10,000 per student, and the national average is about $11,300 per student.

Anyone who's paid attention to the per-student funding debate knows that more per-pupil spending certainly doesn't mean a better performance out of the students, but in Arizona's case, the students have not been performing well compared to other states.

A recent report from the Arizona Auditor General also found that Arizona school districts spent less than 54 percent of their available operating dollars in the classroom in 2013 -- the lowest percentage since the monitoring began, in 2001.

"Each year since fiscal year 2004, districts have decreased the percentage of their resources they allocated to the classroom," the report said. "At the same time, the percentages allocated to administration, plant operations, food service, transportation, student support, and instruction support have all increased."

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

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