School district spending analysis

Sunnyside Unified School District

13,796; Large
Operational 2
11% decrease
Transportation 2 and Achievement 2
20, 21, and 23

District's spending by operational area

Classroom spending, 68.8%
Instruction, 51.2%
Student support, 11.4%
Instruction support, 6.2%
Nonclassroom spending, 31.2%
Administration, 10.3%
Plant operations, 11.5%
Food service, 5.8%
Transportation, 3.6%
For definitions of what is included in operational spending and each of the operational areas, see the “Spending areas” section on the Glossary page.

Every year, school districts must decide where to allocate their resources. This pie chart shows how Sunnyside Unified School District spent its funding by operational area, including the percentage it spent in the classroom and specifically on instruction.

We categorize districts with certain similar qualities into operational peer groups in order to help create meaningful comparisons across districts. Sunnyside Unified School District’s peer group had an average instructional spending percentage of 53.8%. This number can help provide context for Sunnyside Unified School District’s own instructional spending percentage.

Instructional spending percentage highlights (FYs 2001-2022)

We have monitored instructional spending since FY 2001. Below are highlights from Sunnyside Unified School District’s instructional spending trend showing the most recent year-to-year change and the years it spent its highest and lowest percentages on instruction. Reviewing these instructional spending percentage highlights can provide insight into short-term (year-to-year comparison) and long-term (highest and lowest comparison) trends of a district's allocation of monies to instruction. Depending on how much a district spends in total, even small changes in a district’s percentage spent on instruction can equate to large changes in the actual dollars the district spent.

Prior fiscal year

FY 2021


Current fiscal year

FY 2022


Highest fiscal year

FY 2003


Lowest fiscal year

FY 2016


Why monitor school district spending?

Most school district funding is based on the number of students attending, and districts can choose how to spend most funding, so every decision a school district makes to spend on one operational area directly impacts its ability to spend on another. For example, if a district has higher spending in plant operations, it will have fewer dollars to spend on instruction.

The bar chart below, "Percentage point change in spending by area," illustrates how Sunnyside Unified School District’s spending by area has changed from the prior fiscal year and 5 fiscal years ago.

To put the spending percentages in context, it also can be helpful to review a district’s per student spending in dollars. For example, 2 districts may spend the same percentage of their resources on instruction, but on a per student basis, 1 district may spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than the other.

Percentage point change in spending by area

Change in classroom spending, 2.2%
Instruction, 1.7%
Student support, 1.7%
Instruction support, -1.2%
Change in nonclassroom spending, -2.2%
Administration, -0.5%
Plant operations, -0.9%
Food service, -1.4%
Transportation, 0.6%

Per student spending by area

Area State-wide FY 2022 Peer average FY 2022 District FY 2021 District FY 2022 Difference Difference 1-year change
Classroom spending
Instruction $5,846 $5,260 $4,529 $5,131 -$715 -$129 $602
Student support $986 $882 $910 $1,141 $155 $259 $231
Instruction support $632 $582 $465 $624 -$8 $42 $159
Nonclassroom spending
Administration $1,088 $1,000 $835 $1,035 -$53 $35 $200
Plant operations $1,209 $1,127 $929 $1,154 -$55 $27 $225
Food service $507 $434 $334 $579 $72 $145 $245
Transportation $461 $483 $220 $363 -$98 -$120 $143
Total operational $10,729 $9,768 $8,222 $10,027 -$702 $259 $1,805
Land and buildings $1,373 $2,340 $187 $385 -$988 -$1,955 $198
Equipment $840 $735 $389 $1,005 $165 $270 $616
Interest $309 $356 $169 $162 -$147 -$194 -$7
Other $203 $177 $64 $97 -$106 -$80 $33
Total nonoperational $2,725 $3,608 $809 $1,649 -$1,076 -$1,959 $840
Total per student spending $13,454 $13,376 $9,031 $11,676 -$1,778 -$1,700 $2,645

Operational efficiency measures

Performance measures, such as those shown below, can be used in addition to the instructional spending percentage to assess a district's operational efficiency. We have classified the District's spending relative to its peer districts’ average as very low, low, comparable, high, very high, or N/A (not available or applicable). High or very high spending when compared to peer averages may signify an opportunity for improved efficiency in that area. A district’s data may not be available or applicable if they did not operate a program in that operational area. For example, not all districts operate food service or transportation programs.

For more information on how we calculate these measures, see the "Operational efficiency measure calculations" section on the Glossary page.

Operational area Measure State average Peer average District District spending relative
to the peer average
Spending per student $1,088 $1,000 $1,035 Comparable
Students per administrative position 63 65 59 N/A
Plant operations
Spending per square foot $7.21 $7.63 $8.13 High
Square footage per student 167 ft² 142 ft² 142 ft² N/A
Food service
Spending per meal $3.25 $3.12 $2.76 Low
Meals per student 158 132 210 N/A
Transportation performance measures are compared using different peer groups because we have found there are other factors, such as the number of miles a district averages for each rider, that impact transportation spending. For more information on how we create transportation peer groups see the “District peer groups” section on the Glossary page.
Operational area Measure State average Peer average District District spending relative
to the peer average
Spending per mile $5.53 $7.96 $6.33 Very Low
Spending per rider $1,945 $2,061 $2,278 High

Why monitor average teacher salary?

Teacher salaries are one of a school district's most significant costs and have been a topic of high interest in recent years in Arizona. In FYs 2018 through 2021, additional State monies were provided to districts with the intention of increasing teacher salary 20 percent from the FY 2017 base year. The bar chart below shows how Sunnyside Unified School District’s average teacher salary changed during this time and immediately after the annual State increases ended, as well as how it compared to the State average. Further, we show the portion of the District’s average teacher salary that was from Classroom Site Fund (CSF) monies.

We have also included a table that displays other student- and teacher-related measures that may provide additional context regarding changes to Sunnyside Unified School District’s average teacher salary. For instance, changes in a district’s teacher population can impact the district’s average teacher salary.

Average teacher salary and other measures

State average teacher salary
District average teacher salary
District amount from CSF
Measure FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019 FY 2020 FY 2021 FY 2022
Students per teacher 18.2 20.5 18.9 18.2 17.9 17.8
Average years of teacher experience 11.7 12.1 12.1 12.3 12.4 12.2
Percentage of teachers in first 3 years 20% 19% 17% 19% 16% 19%

Student achievement

In FYs 2020 and 2021 State assessment testing was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with school districts being exempted from conducting State assessments in FY 2020 and not all eligible students participating in FY 2021. With nearly all districts returning to in-person learning in FY 2022, we are presenting the percentage of students who passed State assessments for Math, English Language Arts (ELA), and Science assessments. For FY 2022, we also present an achievement peer group average and the State average for comparison. For more information on how we create achievement peer groups see the “District peer groups” section on the Glossary page.

Percentage of students who passed State assessments