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Schools Audit Recommends More Classroom Spending

Ann Dornfeld
06/08/2012

A new report Thursday from the Washington state Auditor's Office finds that many of the state's school districts should spend more money in the classroom and less on overhead. KUOW's Ann Dornfeld reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The audit finds that Washington school districts spend an average of 60 percent of their general funds in the classroom.

That's just one percent less than the national average.

But auditors say that one percent represents about $100 million. That could pay for about a thousand more teachers statewide.

The audit compares districts' spending to that of so–called peer districts with similar enrollment, and finds big differences.

For example, the audit says Seattle Public Schools spends 26 percent more on administration than peer districts, and twice as much on transportation.

Duggan Harman is Seattle Public Schools' assistant superintendent of business and finance. He says he's not surprised that the audit found that the district spends more than average on administration and transportation, but he questions the size of the disparity.

Harman: "The numbers just don't seem to add up to me, and I don't know what methodology they used. But I'm hoping within the next day or so to dig into it."

State Auditor's Office Spokeswoman Mindy Chambers says districts should look into efficiencies that leaner districts have adopted.

Chambers: "Some of the recommendations we made were considering using more USDA surplus food, looking at buying fuel for school buses in bulk, looking into sharing costs with other districts — those sorts of things."

The auditors acknowledged that some district characteristics are out of budget writers' control, like those related to location or enrollment levels.

I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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