Report: School funding lower than before Great Recession

A new report on public school funding in the U.S. finds that most states now receive less support per K-12 student than prior to the 2007-2009 Great Recession. In addition, some states continue to decrease funding.

Published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research and policy institute, the report cites what is says is the most current data available on each state and local funding. After adjusting for inflation, it found:

  • In at least 31 states, the funding provided was less per student in the year ended in 2014 than in the 2008 school year prior to the recession taking hold. The cuts surpassed 10 percent in at least 15 states.
  • In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period. In at least 27 states, local funding increased. Very few of the states increased funding made up for the initial cuts in support. Total funding nationally declined between 2008 and 2014 in states where comparable data exists.
  • While comprehensive data on the current (2016) school year is unavailable, it is known that at least 25 states are providing less “general” funding — the primary form of state funding per school — per student than in 2008. The cuts surpassed 10 percent in seven states.
  • Most states raised the “general” funding per pupil slightly this year. However, 12 states imposed new cuts in funding, despite evidence that the economy has continually improved. The states, including Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arizona, experienced the deepest cuts since the recession hit.

The report says that the consequences of K-12 state-level spending include weakening a key funding source for school districts, slowing the economy’s recovery form the recession, and impeding reforms widely acknowledged to boost students achievement, such as improved teacher quality and reduced class sizes.

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