School district spending analysis

Safford Unified School District

2,803; Medium-large
Operational 4
4% decrease
Transportation 6 and Achievement 3
6 and 19

District's spending by operational area

Classroom spending, 72.6%
Instruction, 63.8%
Student support, 5.8%
Instruction support, 3.0%
Nonclassroom spending, 27.4%
Administration, 10.8%
Plant operations, 10.2%
Food service, 3.2%
Transportation, 3.2%
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 Safford 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. Safford Unified School District’s peer group had an average instructional spending percentage of 52.6%. This number can help provide context for Safford Unified School District’s own instructional spending percentage.

Instructional spending percentage highlights (FYs 2001-2023)

We have monitored instructional spending since FY 2001. Below are highlights from Safford 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 2022


Current fiscal year

FY 2023


Highest fiscal year

FY 2021


Lowest fiscal year

FY 2005


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 Safford 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.

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.

Why monitor average teacher salary?

Teacher salaries are one of a school district’s most substantial costs and have been a topic of high interest in recent years in Arizona. Therefore, we have expanded our reporting on average teacher salary in FY 2023 to provide additional information based on stakeholder feedback. The breakdown below shows Safford Unified School District’s average teacher salary and amount from Classroom Site Fund (CSF) monies as we have reported in prior years. In FY 2023, we have also reported the average base salary for teachers depending on their years of experience. This differs from the average teacher salary. Specifically, average base salary represents the average of only base salaries paid to the teachers within the presented categories of years of experience, meaning it does not reflect additional pay teachers may receive, such as performance pay and stipends or additions to base pay unrelated to additional duties. Neither the average teacher salary nor the average base salary includes payments for additional nonteaching duties a teacher may perform for additional pay, such as tutoring, cocurricular activities, or athletics. A district’s average base salary may not be available if the District did not have teachers during the fiscal year for one of the categories of years of experience. For some districts, the data did not meet our criteria for reporting, which is indicated by NR (not reliable).

The additional teacher salary information we report this year can provide a better picture of how a district pays its teachers. For example, if a district has a large difference between the average base salary for teachers in their first 3 years and the average base salary of teachers in their 4th year or later, it indicates that the district’s salary schedule provides additional base compensation to teachers as they gain additional teaching experience. If the district’s total average teacher salary is substantially higher than the base salary amounts, it indicates that the district pays teachers more in performance pay and one-time payments than a district whose overall average teacher salary is similar to its base salary amounts. Further, not all districts recognize a teacher’s classroom experience outside of their school district when determining a teacher’s pay. The graphic below indicates whether the district reported recognizing classroom experience outside of the district, and if so, whether the district reported compensating teachers for classroom experience through placement on the district’s salary schedule, meaning the teacher’s experience resulted in a higher base pay, and/or by making additional payments to teachers in addition to their base pay, such as a stipend.

Additionally, it is important to consider the proportion of experienced teachers in a district’s teacher population , which can impact a district’s average teacher salary. For example, a district’s total average teacher salary may have decreased since the prior year if its most experienced teachers have left district employment and the district has hired less experienced teachers to replace them. Smaller districts generally have more variation in average teacher salary and other teacher measures due to their smaller teacher population where replacing one experienced teacher with a less experienced teacher can have a more substantial year-to-year impact on reported amounts.

Average teacher salary and other teacher measures (FY 2023)

Districts received additional State monies intended to increase average teacher salary

In FYs 2018 through 2021, the State provided additional monies to districts to increase teacher salaries by 20 percent from the FY 2017 base year. The bar chart below shows how Safford Unified School District’s average teacher salary changed during this time frame and immediately after the annual State increases from FYs 2018 through 2021 ended, as well as how it compared to the State-wide average. Additionally, the chart shows the portion of the District’s average teacher salary paid with CSF monies.

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

Prior years’ District average teacher salary and other teacher measures

Year District average teacher salary Students per teacher Average years of teacher experience Percentage of teachers in first 3 years
FY 2023 $67,349 19.1 10.7 19%
FY 2022 $75,384 21.3 13.3 15%
FY 2021 $66,136 16.8 14.6 17%
FY 2020 $62,850 18.4 15.2 9%
FY 2019 $54,367 17.4 13.9 19%
FY 2018 $56,135 19.2 13.8 20%
FY 2017 $53,549 18.2 13.7 15%

Student achievement

For FY 2023, we present an achievement peer group weighted average and the State average for comparison to the individual districts’ percentage of students who passed State assessments in Math, English Language Arts (ELA), and Science assessments. We report a passage rate consistent with ADE’s publicly available data file, and therefore, some individual districts’ results may not be available due to ADE’s redaction standards. For FY 2023, we also present an achievement peer group weighted 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.

Additionally, we have included the district’s percentage passing for each of the past 5 fiscal years, excluding FYs 2020 and 2021, for Math, ELA, and Science assessments. 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.