For the past five months, The Arizona Republic has reported on Arizona's funding of K-12 education and how your tax dollars are spent. The series, “K-12: Your Money's Worth,” has revealed: (a) the state spends relatively little on school-administration costs despite claims that administrative waste is a problem. A large share of state funding is directed toward counseling and other services for students, and maintenance of facilities. (b) Arizona is one of the lowest states for per-student spending on K-12 education, no matter how you measure it. (c)The gap between “have” and “have not” school districts is growing in terms of building and maintaining facilities. Now, with a still struggling economy and state-budget cutbacks, most schools are looking for whatever cuts and efficiencies they can find, including closing schools. The budget pain along with the drive to improve learning is giving rise to a host of new ideas. The Legislature is adopting some innovative approaches from other states, such as Florida. Other ideas have been around for years but are gaining popularity with school officials. In the coming months, The Republic's series will shift focus to take a close look at these “new ideas.” The concepts range from assigning schools letter grades, A through F, to cutting back school weeks to four days. Not to mention moving toward more online classes.
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