Report: NC Lags Behind Most States In Post-Recession Education Funding

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A new report shows that since the recession, only 5 states have cut per pupil education spending more than North Carolina. The inflation adjusted numbers show that since the 2008 recession, per pupil education spending has fallen 14.5% or $855 in our state. That's compared to states like Wyoming, Maryland and Minnesota where per pupil spending increased by at least $290. From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, 

K-12 schools in every state rely heavily on state aid.  On average, some 46 percent of total education expenditures in the United States come from state funds; the share varies by state. 

States typically distribute most of this funding through formulas that allocate money to school districts.  Each state uses its own formula.  Many states, for instance, target at least some funds to districts that have higher levels of student need (e.g., more students from low-income families) and less ability to raise funds from local property taxes and other local revenues, although this targeting typically is insufficient to fully equalize educational expenditures across wealthy and poor school districts.[5]

This substantial reliance on state aid means that cuts to state formula funding generally force local school districts to scale back the educational services they provide, to raise more revenue to cover the gap, or both. 

In addition to the funding they distribute through general aid formulas, states may or may not use separate allocations to fund items such as pupil transportation, contributions to school employee pension plans, and teacher training.  Those allocations typically are smaller than general aid funding. (See Appendix Table 2 for trends in total state funding for schools, based on Census Bureau data available through the 2011-12 school year.)

For 47 states, the necessary data are available to compare this year’s allocations for the first category of funding, general formula funding, with funding before the recession hit.[6]  The 47 states included in this analysis are home to 96 percent of the nation’s schoolchildren.

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