PHOENIX-In a statement issued today, Goldwater Institute education researchers Vicki Murray and Ross Groen applauded Gov. Janet Napolitano's efforts to reduce administrative waste in Arizona's schools, and urged policymakers to seek even greater savings through systemic reform. "The governor has taken the first step on a thousand-mile journey," Dr. Murray said.
As reported by the East Valley Tribune ("Schools' miserly efforts pay off," 1/24/04), Gov. Janet Napolitano challenged school districts last year to maximize efficiency and redirect at least five percent of their budgets to classrooms. The Tribune reported that public schools statewide saved $103 million in combined administrative costs, and that 13 East Valley districts saved $27 million.
In a Goldwater Institute study released last week, Competition or Consolidation? The School District Consolidation Debate Revisited, Murray and Groen listed 10 of those 13 East Valley districts as being among the state's most efficient. Commenting on the success of those schools, the scholars said they were not surprised they rose to the occasion. "The districts named by the governor's office range from 1,800 to 70,000 students," Murray said. "That suggests that districts of all sizes can become more efficient."
Murray and Groen argue that still more savings are possible, but would require a more systemic effort to achieve greater efficiencies. "To eliminate waste," Murray said, "we have to use the power of competition." Expanding Arizona's charter schools, they argue, would yield a per-pupil savings 90 times greater than that promised by current proposals to consolidate school districts. They cite Harvard economist Carolyn Hoxby, whose findings suggest that enforcing Arizona's existing open-enrollment law could reduce waste in school district spending by almost eight percent.
Author Contacts: Vicki Murray, Education Analyst, and Ross Groen, Education Researcher, Goldwater Institute, (602) 462-5000
Press Contact: Tom Jenney, Director of Communications, Goldwater Institute, (602) 712-1257