NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 26, 2009

Arizona's citizens have been subjected non-stop to the claim that Arizona's public schools are desperately underfunded.  According to Matthew Ladner, vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute, the Superintendent of Public Instruction's finance report says otherwise.

On page six of that document, you will find a figure for all revenues collected by Arizona school districts from all sources.  That number is $9,232,916,095.  If you divide that figure by the enrollment number for districts on page nine of the same document, you get $9,707.45 in total revenue per pupil.

For a bit of perspective:

  • The average Arizona private school tuition in 2006 was $4,300 and the average total cost was $5,500.
  • The same revenue per pupil calculation for Arizona charter schools is $7,800.

Some might be inclined to divide the revenue number by fall enrollment rather than average attendance.  Doing so effectively gives credit for students that have since dropped out or moved away.  Even doing the math this way, this figure is still near $9,000 per pupil, says Ladner.


  • If you go to the JLBC website and look at the budget excel spreadsheet you'll see a budget line for the Arizona Department of Education of $4,141,201,000 on line 135.
  • Even if you cut this number by 18 percent, to $3,395,784,820, it would keep state K-12 funding between where it was in 2005 and 2006.

Yes there has been some inflation and enrollment growth since 2005, so tightening of belts would be necessary.  But average revenue per pupil would remain well above what charter schools receive, says Ladner.

Source: Matthew Ladner, "Arizona Public Schools Received $9,707 per student in 2007-08," Goldwater Institute, February 23, 2009.


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