State School Audit Report:<br><i>Less than 60% of budget finds way to classrooms</i>

The report suggests that generally the more students a district has, the higher the percentage spent in the classroom. Cottonwood-Oak Creek Elementary School District didn't fit the bill on this count, with its 2,359 students. It doled out only $5,005 per pupil in expenditures and actual classroom dollars of $2,621. It ranked 171 out of 229 districts. Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School District (357 students) ranked at 71, and Camp Verde Unified School District (1,376 students) was in the 115th spot.

Mingus ranks highest in average teacher's salaries here in the valley at $42,817 while Beaver Creek the lowest at $33,083 average. Cottonwood-Oak Creek Elementary School District had the highest jump in teacher salaries from 2001 to 2002 of $30,978 average to $36,473.

"Almost 99 percent of Prop. 301 monies were spent on salaries and benefits. Slightly over 1 percent went to supplies and purchased services," according to the state's report. "Teachers' salaries increased 8.8 percent. Statewide data showed that the average teacher salary increased from $37,176 in fiscal year 2001 to $39,973 in fiscal year 2002."

Voters approved a state sales tax increase of 12 percent in 2000 to shore up education costs under Prop. 301. Apparently, all five districts in the Verde Valley used proposition money ranging from about 4 percent to 5.5 percent to cover 2002 operating expenditures (under guidelines allowed).

According to the report, Prop. 301 monies were distributed on a per-pupil basis with half of the total monies going to the 14 largest districts. Mesa Unified received $21 million while Blue Elementary received a mere $810 in 2002.

To learn more about the results of the February 2003 audit, check out the state's web site at or call (602) 553-0333 for a written report.


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