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See which states spend the most, least per pupil on public education

Published: Friday, Aug. 22 2014 12:03 a.m. MDT

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Associated Press
Per-pupil amount of current spending: $19,552

Salaries and wages: $10,977
Employee benefits: $5,401

Revenue from federal sources: $3,769,627
Revenue from state sources: $23,314,292
Revenue from local sources: $31,673,714

State population: 19,570,000
Elementary-secondary enrollment: 2,642,163
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hockeymom
Highland, UT

Well.... this isn't news. If you work in Education in Utah, you already know you could do a lot better in another state. So why do they keep it so low? Because legislators know that a lot of us have learned from childhood to "serve" our fellow man, so we are just glad to have a "Thank You" in the form of a tiny pay check at the end of the month. So, why do we stay? Because it's Utah, and family and church are all here. So we struggle through the over-sized classes in under-sized rooms, the hard kids and the demanding parents, the want of materials and budgets, and the ever changing and demanding curriculum standards, because we like to think we are making a "difference". So, hug a teacher today, everyone! Warm Fuzzies are one of the only perks of the job.

3-pointer
monroe, ut

yeah, you are right...personally, though, I am tired of being told that "none" of us work for the money and that we teach just for the kids! Don't get me wrong...I love the kids, but I work to support my family. It would be nice to at least get good enough health benefits to keep my wife from having to get a job too....

Ockams Razor
Gunnison, UT

If you notice the vast majority of the highest spending states have very little if any of their land under federal control; consequently they have much more private property that can be taxed and used to bolster their education coffers. States like ours are overwhemingly federal and tax exempt but still have to educate our youth, which we do pretty well with what we have.

happymomto9
Saratoga Springs, UT

boy, give me 10% of that to educate my children!
i home school my children for about 1% of that and they excel.
with that kind of funding our school systems should be accomplishing a whole lot more than they are!

Anti Government
Alpine, UT

We also know due to the demographics that at 19% Utah has the highest percentage of the State population in elementary-secondary education.

And yet despite this, the article here on this site just yesterday pointed out that our students have the highest ACT scores.

So much for the theory of throwing more money at the problem automatically equals a better education.

jbiking
Madison, WI

I used to think that low per pupil spending in Utah was all about the high number of children in Utah. Then I moved out of Utah, and realized that Utah has one of the lowest property tax rates, which fund education. Property taxes in Utah are 1/3 that of many states. There is likely a "sweet spot" where there is diminishing returns of more funding for public education but I'm certain that Utah isn't close to that. If you really think Utah should stop being dead last in per-pupil spending then it seems you need to accept increased property tax rates.

Shimlau
SAINT GEORGE, UT

All three of the preceding comments are excellent. Especially the one from Ockams Razor. On my tax statement, over 3/4 of my property tax goes to public education. I do want to thank the teachers for what they do for the children of this state, and tell the parents, that school is not just a daycare where you can drop off your kids to be babysat. get involved with the school, watch the curiculum, take interest in what your kids are being taught and what they are really learning. Your childrens teachers will thank you, and untill the tax base increases, it may be all the help and thanks they will get.

vidottsen
Payson, UT

As a retired teacher, I know how difficult it was to teach a room packed with students while lacking appropriate media materials etc. to teach in my subject area. However, seeing that Utah and Idaho are at the bottom of the list, do we ever consider to add the amount of money spent on the LDS seminaries, who are taking a big load off the public schools during the school day. Granted, all the 9-12 graders are not taking seminary, but many are. What would happen if the seminaries were to disappear and that load of kids came back into the public system? The state would be forced to increase spending to accommodate them and the per/pupil expenditure would raise, taking us off the extreme bottom as we are now.

Lane Myer
Salt Lake City, UT

happymomto9

Saratoga Springs, UT

boy, give me 10% of that to educate my children!
i home school my children for about 1% of that and they excel.
with that kind of funding our school systems should be accomplishing a whole lot more than they are!
-----------------

So you have 9 in your classroom....hmmmm. See what small classrooms can do for students? Do you think you would have this success if you had 40 students?

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Washington, DC, spends over $17,000 per pupil compared to Utah's $6,206.

Would any one in Utah, especially teachers or school employees rather have their children get the education provided by the District of Columbia Schools? Anyone? Anyone, Buehler?

Of course, not. That just proves that the measure of performance for schools is not the amount of money spent, but how much the students learn.

Utah's teachers do a great job, even with large class sizes. But, part of the credit for the great education our children get is due to parents who value education and their involvement in teaching, and in the expectation that kids will attend school, behave and do their homework. The students of course deserve credit for doing their part as well. With the larger than average family size, kids are used to being around other kids, and many already have been teaching to or learning from their siblings.

Today's "we don't spend enough" story is an attempt to erase memory of yesterday's report on the stellar performance of Utah students (and teachers), so the teachers union can go back to demanding more money.

We spend enough on education. Do better with what you get.

hockeymom
Highland, UT

@ DN Subscriber

"We spend enough on education. Do better with what you get"

So, so false. If we are doing well as a state with our education circumstance and our education results - why should we be punished as a state with less funding than others? If we don't give a pay increase to the teachers, let's at the very least, spend on materials, enrichment programs, roomier facilities or MORE teachers to spread all the students around to. If we are doing well enough with less money - imagine what we could do with a comparable amount of money as other states get? To give us less funding because we do well, and more funding to those who do not so well, sounds like reverse discrimination to me.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

"If you notice the vast majority of the highest spending states have very little if any of their land under federal control; consequently they have much more private property that can be taxed "

Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and a lot of those other eastern states do not have a lot of land relative to the giant states out west like Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada, even when subtracting federal land.

Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT

@DN Subscriber
Why are you using a one point sample size (well two, DC and Utah)? That just throws out context when you cherrypick an outlier like DC. We should probably be looking at charts that display all 51 not just an overachiever (Utah) and underachiever (DC).

lixircat
Indianapolis, IN

As a former upstate NY resident, let me put in my 2 bits on why NY spends so much.
A large portion of that money is NOT spent on the teachers or the classrooms. The superintendents, union leaders, and other hangers-on are making well above 6 figure incomes and some are up around 250-300k per year. These people also wield an enormous of power, not just in the schools, but in the communities and cities as well. The schools also have to pay for the (no joke) child molesters and other criminals to sit in a room all day doing crossword puzzles. They are not allowed to interact with students, but they are too hard to fire, and the school districts finds ways to protect them from being arrested.

lixircat
Indianapolis, IN

If any of you actually want education spending as high as NY, then get ready to pay $500-$1000 per MONTH in school taxes (ours were $650). And one would think that with all those taxes, the schools would be swimming in money. But many of the schools have deteriorating buildings, out of date computer labs, etc. And we were constantly asked to contribute to fundraisers and donate paper, batteries, tissues, pencils, crayons, paper cups...
I'm not saying that there is no room for improvement in Utah. I haven't lived in the state for ~10 years, so I'm fairly ignorant about your current situation. All I can say is that ~10 years ago, there was NO drastic difference between UT and NY in terms of actual educational output, despite spending triple the amount of money.

CBAX
Provo, UT

Oh yes, throw more money at a broken system. That always works.

BTW, how is the war on drugs going?

3-pointer
monroe, ut

Yeah...you guys hit it on the head--I am sure that more money wouldn't help decrease class sizes, help put more technology into classrooms, and increase student learning. But what do I know? Afterall, my education-bachelor and master's degree--still keeps me behind the pay of the uneducated high school janitor in my district!

Doctor C
Orem, UT

$7,000 plus per student?!! Wow. Let's see. Rent a 2,000 sq ft facility: 50,000 a year. Utilities: 12,000 per year. Pay the teacher $75,000 per year and have 22 students in the class and you still end up with $47,000 left over. The problem with the current public education system is the waste in the system.

Let the parents take their kid to any accredited school they want and the 7k goes with them. Quickly you will see schools improve because they would actually compete for the kids and provide a great education. Good teachers would be paid more and bad teachers would lose their jobs. Why do we insist on supporting the public monopoly that is public schools? When there is a monopoly the consumers lose! We believe in school choice at the college level but for some reason we believe in inefficient monopolies for our younger children? The biggest civil rights issue of our day is the fact that a huge number of minority and poor students are forced to attend bad and dangerous schools. School choice would change all of that.

localboy
Waipahu, HI

Even though Utah may be lowest spending, I'm sure their test scores reflect a much higher ranking nationally. The correlation and spending isn't linear. Here in Hawaii, I know we rank number 48 nationally for our education, but are number 15 in spending. Lots of waste! I wish Utah had the weather/beaches we have here, I'd move in a heart beat.

Filthy Kuffar
Spanish Fork, UT

What I find interesting is that Utah spends less than any other state, yet scores #17 in the nation on the SAT, and #21 on the ACT. I would say Utah has done a pretty good job at spending less, and getting better outcomes that over half the other states in the Union all while saving the tax payers money.

Great job, Utah!

Moracle
Blackshear, GA

The Economic Principle of Supply and Demand works as well for Teacher's salaries as it does for apples and oranges. If teachers move away for better paying positions, and Utah has fewer to draw from, salaries are likely to increase.

I understand that the desire to be with families and friends, gives an abundant supply of teachers to Utah; but teachers, the rest of the world could use your talents and help -- not only in teaching, but in building up the Kingdom of the Lord, if you're so inclined. However, most Utahans I have seen living away from home feel they can't adjust to the outside world and can't wait move back to Utah. But really, the mission field isn't all that bad. Try it, you might like it!

This may be just another incentive the Lord can use to encourage LDS to leave Utah where there is an overabundance of unused talent, and go to places where they and their talents are needed much, much more.

BYR
West Bountiful, UT

I wonder what percentage of the state revenue, in each of the states, go to education. I think that may be a better comparison.

On the other hand
Riverdale, MD

Until the numbers are adjusted for cost of living, they don't tell us anything at all. Washington, D.C. is quite a bit more expensive than Utah, and the issues facing students in the two places are quite different.

Mom of Five
Orem, UT

Please remember that the per pupil spending is distorted by the enormous amounts of money that are spent on special education students. I don't begrudge any of it, but it does make it look like we are spending a lot more than we really are on most students.

brandypayson
Payson, Utah

Everyone misses the point of spending money on education. Obviously, spending more money on salaries and benefits will not 'fix' education any more than raising salaries for legislators will ensure better laws. Teachers need and deserve more money for the job they do because they do it better than anyone else. Teachers are trained to teach, and the vast majority of Utah teachers do a great job. Utah's education system is not 'broken', it does very well considering the low per pupil spending compared to other states. Education is not the sole responsibility of the school and the teachers, everyone involved must buy in for the benefit of all. An educated society prospers. As a veteran teacher of 40 years, I am still teaching and plan to keep teaching as long as I can. I'm not perfect by any measure, however I do know how to do my job and I would like to be paid well for doing it. It was disheartening to say the least, when my children were in school, they qualified for free lunch because the salary was so low. But they are all well-educated and successful because they cared about their education and we, the parents, also cared enough.

Joemamma
W Jordan, UT

The issue here is not how much it's spent but how it's used and how effective it is.
Utah has the alleged lowest cost per student according to the article but yet high tech companies come to utah for their high skill high tech work force which would indicate that we have a high precentage of high school grads as well as college grads go through our school system that come well prepared to meet the demands of a high tech economy.
So stop judging based of what our "PER STUDENT" expenses are. in most cases high cost it's incured due to union negotiated over blown benefit pacakages and wages, or high cost of living and not due to quality education.

gogo
ogden, UT

Utah by far spends more of its state budget than any other state on education, upwards of 50% compared to a national average of 25%. Where does more money come from for education?

Joemamma
W Jordan, UT

Unions want more money to hire more teachers which equates to more union members and more dues being paid to unions which means more power to unions and more money going to elect Progressive Democrat or corrupted politicians.
I wish more teachers would realize they're being used by unions to achieve alternate goals.

HarleyMaiden
E. Carbon, UT

There is ONE solution! The lottery in Utah! Not only would it go to education, but it would help our roads too, like all the other states that have it! It should be passed & if you are against it, then DON'T purchase a ticket!

Joe Schmoe
Orem, UT

The real story should be "look how inexperienced the teaching staff is at your local school". At our local middle school, over 1/4 of the 50 or so teachers are brand new out of college. Add on to that the number of student teachers we will get and you will quickly see what being the lowest spending state gets you.

Utah teachers do an excellent job with the pittance they are given but I would really love to see what they could do if we raised our educational spending to even middle of the pack.

Sadly, I've given up hope that will ever happen. We will continue to be mediocre and people will still say we are spending too much.

Sad.

stampederus
Ephraim, UT

It's not how much you spend, but how you manage those resources.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Mom of Five: Special education funding comes from the evil federal government and thus not figured in on any state's funding average.

lledwards38
Canandaigua, NY

The article should also show high school graduation rates, ACT/SAT scores, and rates of post high school education. As a resident of NY with no children in school, I want to see how the state benefits from the pricey education we provide the students.

Anyone know what the tuition is for Exeter? Maybe we should send our kids there.

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