Roughly 350 Tombstone students have been waiting more than a year to move from their historic, but crowded, 83-year-old high school into their new school. The new Tombstone High School remains closed indefinitely because, as school superintendent J. Ronald Hennings admits, "We just can't get kids to it."
Even after spending $7 million, and going $600,000 over budget, Tombstone school and district officials still need one more thing: a new road that leads to the school. And, of course, lots more money to build it.
As it is, Arizona taxpayers have spent the equivalent of $20,000 per Tombstone High School student for an empty building.
If school facilities and related construction projects continue to be funded this way, Tombstone High School students won't be the only ones on a road to nowhere.
Enrollment in the state's public schools will exceed one million students in just four years. According to the Arizona Department of Education, average capital and debt service funding now exceeds $2,000 per student, ranking the state among the highest in the country.
A sensible solution is to make full use of existing capacity. There are an estimated 26,000 available seats in Arizona private schools right now. Average tuition is $4,600-roads included.
- Arizona Republic: "No students attend Tombstone school"
-Goldwater Institute: "Survey of Arizona Private Schools: Tuition, Testing and Curricula"
-National Center for Education Statistics: Projections of Education Statistics to 2014
-Arizona Department of Education: State Totals in Superintendent's Annual Financial Report Fiscal Year 2003-2004