Dead last.

That's where Utah's elementary and secondary school revenues stand in a national ranking of 1994-95 revenues prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau.The child-rich Beehive State ranked 51st. Counting federal, state and local revenues, Utah had an average $4,113 to spend per child, compared to the national average of $6,238.

Revenues were greatest in New Jersey, which had $9,904 to spend per student. New York was next at $8,987, followed by Alaska, the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

Deputy State Superintendent Laurie Chivers wasn't surprised by the rankings, released earlier this week.Utah's ranking boils down to simple division: the number of taxpayers divided by the number of kids served by the state's public school system.

Depending upon whose numbers one uses, Utah consistently ranks in the bottom five in revenues, along with Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Alabama.

While relatively cash poor, Utah performs in the top 10 nationally in graduation rates, college entrance exams and Advanced Placement tests.

"The argument we hear is, `Why should we spend any more money when you're getting results like that?' It's not like we're at the top of the pile asking for more. We're at the bottom asking for more," Chivers said.

She said Utah has made some progress in class size reduction. But as Utah has turned attention and resources to address that issue, so has the rest of the nation.

"The problem is, everyone is reducing class size and they were lower than us to start with," she said.

Utah ranks 49th for how much it spends on school administration and 51st for instructional spending - teacher salaries. Utah ranked 32nd for the dollars

spent on teacher benefits.

State government contributes the greatest share of public school funding, followed by local government and the federal government.

The Census Bureau report, released Thursday, determined that public school revenues from all government sources climbed to $275 billion in 1994-95, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.

Utah receives little federal support for education. It ranks 43rd in state and local support of its schools. School funding comes primarily from state income tax and local property taxes.

Nearly half of the state budget supports public education.


Additional Information

Sagging revenue

Rank State Revenue

1 New Jersey $9,904

2 New York 8,987

3 Alaska 8,792

4 Washington, D.C. 8,702

5 Connecticut 8,547

46 Alabama 4,567

47 Arkansas 4,560

48 Idaho 4,501

49 Tennessee 4,368

50 Mississippi 4,181

51 Utah 4,113

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Annual Survey of Government Finances