In 2003, teachers in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District made an average of $12,422 less than teachers at Mingus Union High School, according to a recent report by the State of Arizona Office of the Auditor General.
At an average of $45,983, Mingus teachers were higher than the state average of $40,328 and higher than any other school district in the Verde Valley or Sedona. Cottonwood-Oak Creek teachers, at an average salary of $33,561, were the lowest.
Camp Verde Unified School District teachers were a little better off than Cottonwood-Oak Creek teachers at an average $35,118 per year. Teachers in the Clarkdale-Jerome Elementary School District earned an average of $37,154; Beaver Creek teachers averaged $36,529; and Sedona-Oak Creek, $37,883.
The report also evaluated and compared the amount of total budget that districts spend on administration costs.
None of the Verde Valley school districts were far from the state average of 9.9-percent of budget spent on administration.
Camp Verde had the lowest administration-to-budget percentage in the Verde Valley at 8.1-percent. Clarkdale-Jerome spent only 8.5-percent of its total budget on administration costs.
The other four school districts in the valley all spent slightly more than the state average and the national average of 10.9 percent.
Sedona-Oak Creek used 11.2-percent of its budget to pay for administration, and Beaver Creek was close behind at 11.4-percent.
Cottonwood-Oak Creek's administration cost the district 12.4-percent of budget, and Mingus Union spent 12.7-percent.
According to the auditor's report, it is expected that districts with higher student populations will have to spend more of their budgets on non-classroom items, such as administration, physical plants, transportation and food service.
The auditor's report stated that for fiscal year 2003 Arizona school districts spent 58.6-percent of their dollars in the classroom. That is a slight increase from the 58.2-percent averaged in 2002. The national average was 61.5-percent in 2003.
Beaver Creek, with only 282 students in 2003, spent $3,643 per student and 63.1-percent of its budget in the classroom.
Mingus Union spent 59.4-percent of its budget in the classroom. That amounts to $3,319 for each of its 1,327 students. Clarkdale-Jerome spent $3,441 on each of its 345 students for a total of 58.3-percent of budget.
The 2,392 students at Cottonwood-Oak Creek each accounted for $3,150 in classroom spending for a total of 56.1-percent.
Camp Verde spent 53.8-percent of its total budget in the classroom, which amounted to $3,042 for each of its 1,363 students. Sedona-Oak Creek's 1,428 students received $3,583 each for in-classroom costs for 53.4-percent of budget.
The Auditor General's report found that within Arizona, higher per-pupil spending does not equal higher classroom dollar percentages. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. The auditor's report states that, on average, school districts in Arizona that spend the most money per pupil actually have lower percentages of their total budgets spent in the classroom.