Report: Arizona ranks 3rd for school budget spending cuts

PHOENIX - One of the lingering effects of the recession has our children paying the price for the turbulence in the economy.

New statistics from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show deep cuts to education and kids in our state are among the hardest hit.

According to the report, Arizona is the third worst in the nation, with cuts of more than 17 percent in the last six years when adjusted for inflation.

Only Oklahoma and Alabama had deeper cuts.

ABC15 checked in at Balsz Elementary School in Phoenix where classrooms have been hit hard.

The school's superintendent, Dr. Jeff Smith, told us this school district has tried hard to keep the budget cuts as far from the classroom as possible, which means minor repairs, like a torn up flag, have to go undone.

Parents at the school can only shake their heads at where the state's education funding cuts have left Arizona children. Some say in the dust compared to other states.

To compensate, Smith says they've had to freeze teachers' salaries and cut teacher aid positions entirely.

The drastic measures make it hard to recruit teachers and have even caused many good teachers to leave the state and even the country.

In order to keep as much money in the classrooms, the school district is making penny-pinching decisions, including forgoing landscaping and cleaning the classrooms every other day instead of every day.

But parents say they don't blame the school districts for the cuts, rather the lawmakers who they say are missing the big picture.

So what's the solution? Superintendent Smith tells us lawmakers need to see that education is an investment in not just our kids, but our future economy.

And he says he's optimistic they will.

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