Assessing the Legacy of Arizona's Cuts to K-12 Education: An Examination of the Magnitude of Statewide Funding Reductions and their Ramifications on School Districts, 2007"2015
This thesis analyzes budgetary documents of the State of Arizona relating to education spending as well as East Valley school districts to examine the extent of reductions in state funding for K-12 education since the beginning of the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Previous research has found that Arizona ranks in the very bottom tier of states in education spending. Moreover, Arizona has cut per-pupil spending by a higher percentage than forty-seven other states. To assess the effects of these cuts, I determine both their magnitude in the aggregate as well as their significance to individual school districts. In the first chapter, I explain the school finance formula to provide a foundation for my analysis, scrutinize the last nine budgets of the Arizona Department of Education to measure annual changes in funding, chronicle the inflation-funding lawsuit to gauge the quantity of funds withheld, rather than cut, from schools, and sum the value of reduced and suspended funding to discover the total cost of these decisions. In the second chapter, I compile data from the budgets of East Valley school districts covering the last eight recorded years to discern and compare annual changes in revenue from the state, aggregate teacher salaries, and the number of teachers employed. Looking ahead, the conclusion discusses public opinion on education funding and the enacted budget for the coming fiscal year, FY 2016. In conjunction, these sections convey both a comprehensive history of the decisions made by our public officials that have affected public education in Arizona and an analysis of the consequences of those decisions.