Area school districts might not feel as if they are rolling in dough, but the U.S. Census Bureau reports this week that revenue has been up for elementary and secondary education.
The Census Bureau in its annual survey delved into the finances for 15,078 public school systems for 2013-2014, and that includes those in Kansas and Missouri. What it found was revenue for elementary and secondary education nationally was up 3.3 percent in 2014 compared with 2013, amounting to $617.6 billion for fiscal year 2014.
The report was released as the Kansas Supreme Court and the state Legislature face off in a dispute over school funding, which if unresolved could result in a public school shutdown statewide on July 1. Gov. Sam Brownback this week called the Legislature into a special session set for June 23. The goal is for lawmakers to come up with a solution to what the Supreme Court contends is the state violating the Constitution in not adequately funding public schools.
The problem stems from the Republican-controlled Legislature changing the school funding formula in the regular session. The court ruled in May that the Legislature’s action was inadequate.
Nationally, revenue for schools is headed in a positive direction compared with Kansas. Per pupil spending for the U.S. in 2014 was $11,009, a 2.7 percent increase from 2013, the census reports.
The increase represents the largest jump in per pupil spending since 2008, when public schools and the country were just starting to feel the effects of the Great Recession, which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009.
Although progress since 2009 has been slow, the upward bound school numbers are another indication of a national economic recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Per pupil spending includes money going to instruction and support services. Non-instructional functions include salaries, employee benefits, student transportation, building maintenance, purchased property, and other services and supplies.
The census reports that among the 50 states, New York spent the most per pupil at $20,610. Utah came in last at $6,500. Going up from the bottom were Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Nevada.
“All nine states in the Northeast region of the U.S. were ranked among the top 15 in current spending per pupil,” the census said in a prepared release. “Out of the 20 states with the lowest per pupil spending, 18 were in the South or West regions. The remaining states were Indiana and South Dakota, which are in the Midwest.”
Missouri and Kansas predictably ranked in the lower half among the 50 states. Although in the coming years because of the ongoing trend of underfunding schools, Kansas is destined to drop in the national rankings.
Kansas ranked 29th, spending $9,972 per pupil in 2014, up 1.4 percent from $9,828 in 2013. Missouri ranked 31st spending $9,875 per pupil in 2014, up 2.89 percent from $9,597 in 2013.
No doubt, there is room in both states for improvement.