The Phoenix Flyer

FL school finances look particularly bad in recent study

By: - May 31, 2019 3:39 pm
american dollars

American dollars. Credit: WIkimedia Commons

Florida’s school finances took a big hit in a recent analysis by the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The nonpartisan research and policy institute analyzed how state education finances recovered after the great recession in 2008, finding that many states provide less K-12 funding to schools compared to almost a decade ago.

Florida ranked dead last in the analysis.

The group looked specifically at changes in per-student funding – meaning state and local funds– for K-12 schools between 2008 and 2017.

In seven states, school funding per student was at least 10 percent below pre-recession levels (adjusted by inflation). The figures are based on U.S. Census data on school finances.

But Florida’s funding was down by 22.7 percent – “the deepest cutting state” in the nation, according to the group’s analysis. That kind of drop can impact everything from teacher salaries to class sizes and textbooks and high school class offerings.

Overall, 22 states, and Washington D.C. schools, were below pre-recession levels in 2017 compared to 2008.

The other states with the steepest funding drops are Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama.

The most recent  U.S. Census data —  for 2017 — provides a plethora of school finance factors that highlight both how much states take in – and spend – on schools.

For example, the data provides a breakout on who has to pay for schools: the federal government, the state, or local taxpayers.

For 2017 in Florida, 11 percent of funds came from the federal government – higher than the national average; 39.1-percent of funds came from the state – much lower than the national average, and 49.8-percent came from local taxpayers – higher than the national average.

That’s the revenue side of school funding.

As to how much states spends on education, Florida ranks low in the category of average per-student spending.

Florida’s per-pupil amount is $9,809, based on the 2017 data, ranking 40th of the 50 states and Washington D.C. schools.

Now that it’s two years later, the school funding landscape could change. The Florida Legislature, for example, has just approved hundreds of millions more for schools for 2019-20.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.