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School Funding Decreases

Many states are providing even less funding per student than they did prior to the recession – eight years ago, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – money that the report authors argue is needed to hire and retain teachers, reduce class sizes and expand access to high-quality early

The center surveyed state budget documents for 46 states over the last three months and found that, among other things, at least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2013-2014 school year than in the 2007-2008 school year, before the recession took hold. In at least 15 states, the difference exceeded 10 percent. While data on total school funding for the current 2015-2016 school year is not yet available, the report found that at least 25 states are still providing less funding per student than in the 2007-2008 school year. And in seven states, the funding discrepancy exceeds 10 percent.

What’s more, 12 states imposed new cuts this year, including those that had already cut education spending the most since the recession, like Oklahoma, Arizona and Wisconsin. On the whole, most states raised per-pupil funding in the last year, but only four states did so enough to offset earlier cuts. Alabama’s $7 per-pupil increase this year, for example, is far from enough to offset the state’s $1,097 per-pupil cut over the previous seven years.

In addition, local government funding per student fell in 18 states since the 2007-2008 school year. States originally cut funding for K-12 education, among other areas like health care and social services, as a result of the recession, which sharply reduced states revenues. While the federal economic stimulus package helped safeguard states against making even deeper cuts, the money ran out prior to the economy fully recovering. And that forced states to make up budget shortfalls with additional cuts, which disproportionately affected education.

On average, 46 percent of school revenues come from state funds, 45 percent from local governments, and the rest comes from the federal government. Local governments weren’t able to shore up state cuts because their revenues are primarily funded through local property taxes, and property values fell sharply during the recession.

Federal education dollars dried up as well, thanks in part to the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. When adjusted for inflation, the amount of money for Title I, the pillar of the federal K-12 law that provides aid to school districts with large numbers of poor students, has decreased 11 percent since the recession.

As a result, education spending took an especially heavy hit, one from which the report argues it is still reeling today and that’s potentially contributing to the slow ongoing economic recovery despite the recession having officially ended mid-2009.

A prime example, the report points out, is that from 2008 to 2012, local school districts were forced to cut about 351,000 jobs. They’ve since added back some, but are still down 297,000 jobs compared to 2008. And, notably that came when student enrollment increased by 804,00 additional students.

Federal spending on Title I (low income) from 2010-2015 fell by 11% as did spending on Special Education – down 9%.

The center surveyed state budget documents for 46 states over the last three months and found that, among other things, at least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2013-2014 school year than in the 2007-2008 school year, before the recession took hold. In at least 15 states, the difference exceeded 10 percent.

State Spending from 2008 – 2014
1.    Arizona – 23.3%

2.    Alabama – 21.4 percent

3.    Idaho – 16.9 percent

4.    Georgia – 16.5 percent

5.    Mississippi -15.4 percent

6.    Oklahoma 15.3 percent

7.    South Dakota 14.2 percent

8.    Wisconsin – 14.2 percent

9.    North Carolina – 13.9 percent

10. Kentucky -13.9 percent

11.  Virginia – 11.2 percent

12.  Texas – 11.1 percent

13.  New Mexico – 10.7 percent

14.  South Carolina – 10.4 percent

15. Kansas – 10.3 percent

From US News and World Reports

How can schools increase their performance if funding is decreased?  Politicians do not see a correlation between spending and performance.

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