General Education’s General Costs

Education in Arizona is expensive.  Pundits will tell you that we don’t spend enough or that we spend way too much.  The problem is… we never actually see any facts and figures to help us decide.  So what are some of the facts.  Public Education is a major industry in Arizona as it is in most states.  Arizona’s state budget spends roughly half of it’s entire annual budget on K-12 public education which totals nearly $5.5 Billion dollars and is then matched by Federal funding to a total of more than $11 Billion dollars.  With roughly 1.2 Million children enrolled in K-12 education, that’s approximately $9,166 per student statewide.  Students in rural areas and especially those on native-american reservations are far more expensive due to excessive busing and in some case providing room and board during the week and then busing back home for the weekend.

In no particular order or priority, here are some of the various jigsaw puzzle pieces that educated voters understand and consider before deciding to throw more money at “the machine”.

  • Average student costs in Gilbert area – $7,557 (Pulled from Gilbert Public Schools  “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report”, fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, Pg 141)
  • Number of Students in Higley Unified School District – Approximately 11,000 according to School Board Official
  • Average school class size district-wide K-12 = 27
  • Doing the math, general funding per classroom then would be $204,039.
  • Subtract the cost of the teacher’s salary plus benefits, then paper, pencils, and facial tissue that districts always seem to be begging for more of and you conservatively end up with anywhere between $155K-$130K.  What else is there?  Oh yeah… books
  • So subtract books at $100/each ($2,700), utilities to run the lights and AC for the year ~$4,500, and even throw in another $10K in miscellaneous expenses (very gracious and liberal estimate), and we still have over $110,000 left.  Where does that money go?  Answer – Administration and maintenance.

It’s expensive to manage the operational expenses of schools these days.  No longer are we content to use those environmentally unfriendly portable units that didn’t seem very portable at the time.  We must build massive edifices of block and our high-school gymnasiums must have parquet wooden flooring rivaling any grade A commercial real-estate flooring withing 20 miles.

With all of the funding already available, and with all the money currently involved in education at over $7K per student annually, HUSD is asking for an additional $70MILLION in bond funding which debt service will last up to 20 years.  Intended uses of the bond includes but is not limited to furniture, equipment and technology.

The question must be asked… in order to pay for something for 20 years… shouldn’t it last at least that long or longer?  When was the last time you saw any kind of school furniture, equipment, or technology (computer equipment) that was 20 years old at any campus still serviceable??

If you find the questions above worth considering, perhaps the School Board and HUSD administration should consider better how to use bond funds.  In the meantime – Vote NO!!

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