By Naomi Hatch
The Snowflake Unified School District fared well in the 2013 Arizona Office of the Auditor General report, which is based on 2012 fiscal year statistics.
Figures referred to for peers are districts similar in size and number of students as the Snowflake district, which is considered a medium-large town with six schools in the district.
Of the 2,413 students in the district more than 70 percent met Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) requirements compared to less than 60 percent of the peer group and more than 60 percent statewide. In writing and science, in the district 60 percent met standards, compared to just over 50 percent of the peer group and close to 60 percent statewide. In reading, 80 percent of the district’s participating students met standards, compared to just under 80 percent in the peer group and 80 percent statewide. Superintendent Hollis Merrell noted that these results provide the district with more Proposition 301 funding.
The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) gave a B letter grade to the district for five schools and a C for Taylor Elementary School, which was just barely below the B grade.
The district had a 94 percent attendance rate, the same average as peer and statewide districts.
The district’s 2012 graduation rate was high at 94 percent compared to the 83 percent peer average and the 77 percent state average.
The poverty rate in the district is 22 percent, which is lower than the 24 percent peer average and 25 percent state average.
The students per teacher ratio was 21.7 for the district, much higher than the 16.6 peer and 18.3 statewide averages.
The average teacher salary in the district is $41,990, which is higher than the $41,866 peer average and lower than the $45,264 state average, and the district uses more of Prop. 301 money for teacher salaries at $4,668 compared to $4,192 for the peer average and $3,784 for the state average.
The district’s average of 15.9 years of teacher experience exceeds the 11.7 peer and 10.9 state averages, with six percent of the district’s teachers in their first three years compared to a 16 percent peer average and a 19 percent state average.
The overall financial stress level was measured from 2011 through 2013, and is low for spending exceeded operating/capital budgets, which showed no overspending. The district has more than three years of capital reserve held. There was a moderate decrease in the number of students attending the district.
Operational efficient statistics show that 56.5 percent of the district’s budget goes to classroom instruction; 10.3 percent, administration; 11.6 percent, plant operations; 3.7 percent, food service; 6.6 percent, transportation; 8.6 percent, student support; and 2.7 percent, instructional support.
The five-year spending trend showed that the district’s total spending per pupil decreased by 12 percent and spending in the classroom decreased from 59.6 percent to 56.5 percent. Overall spending on administration increased substantially and spending on transportation increased slightly, while spending on plant operations decreased. Spending on other non-classroom areas remained fairly stable.
Merrell noted that areas of concern are food service and transportation, which are higher than other averages. The cost per meal in the district is $3.10, the peer average is $2.67 and the state average is $2.58. The district’s cost per mile for transportation is $4.98 or $1,055 per rider, the peer average is $2.52 or $797 per rider, and the state average is $3.55 or $1,015 per rider.
Plant operations are lower for the 177 square feet per student in the district compared to 176 peer average and 153 state average, with the district’s cost per square foot averaging $4.13 compared to $5.34 for the peer average and for the $6.03 state average.
Administration costs per pupil in the district were $650, compared to the $764 peer average and the $746 state average, with 63 students per administrator in the district as opposed to 67 for both the peer and state averages.
By Naomi Hatch