New report finds public school funding higher than reported
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 Educations multiple accounting systems: the Uniform System of Financial Reporting (USFR), the Student Accountability Information System (SAIS), and the Superintendents 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 countrys largest teachers union, says the state spends $5,222 per student, and Education Weeks 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.