Administrative costs in Utah’s K-12 public schools are among the lowest in the nation, Utah received the lowest amount of federal funding of any state, and spending varies widely among Utah’s school districts.
These are a few of the findings from Utah Foundation’s new report, Simple Arithmetic? K-12 Education Spending in Utah. The report makes national and statewide comparisons and explores some of the reasons for spending patterns.
Its key findings include:
K-12 education costs Utah taxpayers about $5 billion per year for operating costs, with another half billion in federal funds and a half-billion in local sources to support capital costs.
Kindergarten through 12th grade education accounts for 23% of the state budget.
While Utah is second lowest in total school funding per pupil, it is last in funding from the federal government – due in part to both Utah’s low percentage of lower-income students and Utah’s modest state and local funding, which in turn affect federal funding formulas.
Utah’s funding “effort” (amount per $1,000 of personal income) at the state level exceeds the national average while its local-level funding effort trails behind.
There are vast differences among districts’ state, local and federal revenue – due in large part to district size, location and proportion of lower-income students.
Utah has the second largest class size in the nation, which is likely a key factor in keeping K-12 educational costs low.
In terms of “effort,” Utah spends more than most states on teacher benefits.
Despite the perceptions of many Utahns that large portions of education spending go toward administrative costs, only 7% is spent on administration – the 13th lowest percentage in the nation and the second-lowest amount per pupil in the nation.
Although charter schools spend a much smaller percentage per-pupil on instructional employee benefits than district schools, charter schools spend a significantly higher percentage on support services and administration.
Due in large part to district size, spending on district administration ranges from $254 per pupil to $1,947.
Due in large part to logistical differences, spending on transportation among districts ranges from $277 per pupil to $1,500. Charter schools, meanwhile, spend far less than district schools.
“There are major efforts afoot to increase revenue and spending for K-12 education,” said Utah Foundation Vice-President Shawn Teigen, the report’s lead author. “In order to make informed decisions, the public and policymakers needs a strong sense of where the money is going now. That is what this report is all about.”
The report Simple Arithmetic? K-12 Education Spending in Utah is available on the Utah Foundation website atwww.utahfoundation.org.