March 14, 2019 Staff

K-12 Funding Below ‘Great Recession’ Levels in Many States

Funding for
K-12 schools in the U.S. has increased in recent years, but in 24 states, it
remains below levels before the “Great Recession,” according to a Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) report published March 6.

Protests and
teacher walkouts in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia all
resulted in funding increases, but CBPP assessments indicate that some of the
means used to bolster spending will be difficult to sustain.

Kentucky protests
helped defeat proposed legislation to cut teacher pensions, but per-student
funding remains largely unchanged.

“Last year’s
improvements in teacher pay did not fully reverse those cuts, and harm remains
from other cuts imposed in earlier years,” the report said.

In 26 states,
per-student funding has been raised above pre-recession levels (based on 2016
figures, the latest comprehensive data available), with North Dakota increasing
funding the most (35 percent above 2008 levels) and Indiana the least (0.11

Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, Texas and Utah – which enacted the deepest spending cuts (8 percent
or more) during the recession – all remain below 2008 levels, along with 13
other states.

For the 2018-19
school year, Oklahoma raised its per-student spending by 18 percent, the most
among these “deep cut” states.

Even with this
increase, the Sooner State remains 15.3 percent (inflation adjusted) below 2009-10
per-student spending levels.

Other states
increasing per-student spending were Arizona (9 percent), West Virginia, North
Carolina and Idaho (all 3 percent), Utah and Kansas (both 2 percent), Alabama
(1 percent) and Michigan (0.5 percent).

Even so, all of
these states remained between 3 percent and 15 percent below 2009-10 per-student
spending levels.

CBPP found that
Texas cut per-student spending by 4 percent for 2018-19 (the funding formula reduces
state contributions as local property tax revenue for schools increase),
leaving the Lone Star State 20 percent below pre-recession levels in terms of
state funding.

Only two other
states – Mississippi (down 1 percent) and Kentucky (down 0.3 percent) – cut the
state portion of per-student spending for the current school year.

“Steep funding
cuts make it hard for states to improve teacher quality, reduce class sizes,
extend learning time and enact other reforms that, research indicates, improve
student outcomes,” the report said. “States that provide inadequate funding for
their schools weaken those states’ futures and put them at risk of falling
behind other states that are investing in a better-educated future population.”

The full report
is available here.