Phoenix—Does raising teacher pay require states to spend more on education? The latest Goldwater Institute report on Arizona school spending shows that may not be necessary: Wasteful and poor spending practices are a major roadblock to higher teacher salaries.

The second in a series of three reports on school financing in the Grand Canyon State, Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher’s new paper, Arizona School Districts Can Eliminate Wasteful Spending to Increase Teacher Pay, examines spending practices in a range of Arizona school districts. Digging deeply into district performance audits, Butcher illustrates that teacher pay in many districts could be increased without expanding education budgets at taxpayer expense.

“Across Arizona, it’s clear that many districts have the money to raise teacher salaries—if only they would get their financial houses in order,” said Butcher. “Vacant school buildings, too much spending on administrative purposes, transportation, and food service, and opaque desegregation budget practices have helped to perpetuate a system that wastes money that could be used in the classroom or fund a boost in teacher pay.”

And as the report shows, the reallocation of funds used in wasteful ways could make a significant difference in teacher salaries. For instance, Scottsdale Unified School District teachers could see $3,000 raises if the district made better use of vacant buildings, while Piñon Unified teachers could see $15,800 raises if the district addressed administrative and transportation issues.

“While recent protests have pointed to education budgets as the hurdle to higher teacher pay, this paper shows that cleaning up bad spending practices could raise teacher salaries by thousands of dollars,” Butcher said. “School districts ought to take steps to eliminate waste in their budgets rather than increase the burden on taxpayers.”

Read the full report here. Read the first paper in the series, Arizona Public School Spending, 2016-2018: What Do the Changes Mean for Families and Taxpayers?, here.

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About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona.  Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.