Ariz. school spending in classroom hits record low

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX (AP) -- A new state report says the percentage of Arizona school districts' spending that reaches the classroom has hit a record low for the 10 years of state monitoring.

The Auditor General's Office says 55.9 percent of operating dollars were spent on teacher pay and other instructional costs in the 2009-2010 school year. That's down from the peak of 58.6 percent in two years early last decade.

The report says the declining percentage of spending for instructional costs likely indicates that districts are illegally diverting sales-tax money designated for classroom costs.

The report says the percentage decline of classroom spending is partially explained by the drop in the amount of designated sales-tax money and in overall per-student spending.