In 2003, Governor Janet Napolitano asked Arizona school districts to each move five additional cents per budget dollar to the classroom within two years. With this mandate, the state's superintendents and district managers set out to identify cost savings and locate budget inefficiencies that would free up funds for classroom use. In the first year, these efforts resulted in over $108 million in additional classroom funds, according to the financial information submitted to the governor's office by participating districts.
Twenty-seven districts -- together comprising approximately 18.7% of the state's total district enrollment -- reported successfully shifting at least five cents per dollar to the classroom in just one year.
Many of the 155 participating districts noted that they were able to move money to the classroom simply through more efficient spending. Taking advantage of energy conservation, streamlined district office expenditures, creative personnel actions, and
transportation efficiencies, these districts were seemingly able to avoid program cuts or general pay hikes in their attempts to fulfill the governor's Nickel Plus mandate.
Innovative approaches reported by these districts included:
* Allocating health insurance costs to school sites rather than using a district-wide administration (reported savings: $600,000)
* Contracting out transportation services (reported savings: $470,002)
* Closing facilities in the summer, as warranted (reported savings: $118,588)
* Installing computer timers at school sites for thermostat control (reported savings: $75,000)
* Switching to "time of use" utility plans (reported savings: $60,000)
* Using purchasing cooperatives to save on supplies and equipment (reported savings: $25,000)
* Filling maintenance, custodial, and security vacancies with six-month temporary employees (reported savings: $25,000)
* Using rotating work schedules to reduce maintenance staff overtime costs (reported savings: $25,000)
* Reducing the number of duplicate bus runs (reported savings: $12,000)
* Participating in an insurance consortium (reported savings: $7,200)