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July 2, 2015

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Survey places Silver State in bottom 10 on per-pupil education spending


Leila Navidi

Manda Kristof teaches a fifth grade writing class at Ferron Elementary School in Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

Top 10 states with the highest per-pupil spending (FY 2011)

  • 1. New York: $18,834
  • 2. New Jersey: $16,855
  • 3. Alaska: $16,663
  • 4. Connecticut: $16,224
  • 5. Wyoming: $15,815
  • 6. Rhode Island: $14,948
  • 7. Vermont: $14,707
  • 8. Massachusetts: $14,285
  • 9. Maryland: $14,123
  • 10. New Hampshire: $13,548

Bottom 10 states with the lowest per-pupil spending (FY 2011)

  • 41. Alabama: $8,726
  • 42. Texas: $8,685
  • 43. Tennessee: $8,484
  • 44. Nevada: $8,411
  • 45. North Carolina: $8,267
  • 46. Mississippi: $7,926
  • 47. Arizona: $7,782
  • 48. Oklahoma: $7,631
  • 49. Idaho: $6,821
  • 50. Utah: $6,326
  • Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Nevada ranks 44th in the nation among states in per-pupil spending on education, according to a national report released Tuesday.

The National Center for Education Statistics, operated by the Education Department, analyzed public school expenditures and revenue in 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The center found that school spending varied widely across the states and has been climbing steadily over the past 20 years — albeit not as much in recent years as school revenues dropped during the recession.

Here are the major findings from the federal report as it pertains to Nevada:

Per-pupil spending:

Nationally, average per-pupil spending was $10,658 during fiscal year 2011. Expenditures ranged from $6,326 in Utah to $20,793 in Washington, D.C.

Nevada spent an average of $8,411 per student in that time frame, $2,247 less than the national average.

In per-pupil spending, the Silver State ranked ahead of only six states: North Carolina, Mississippi, Arizona, Oklahoma, Idaho and Utah.

Per-student state spending was highest in New York, New Jersey, Alaska, Connecticut and Wyoming.

Nationally, per-pupil spending has been steadily rising by at least 1 percent each year between 1996 and 2008. However, since the recession, increases in per-pupil spending have become smaller.

In 1996, states reported spending a little more than $8,000 per student for education. By 2011, states were spending more than $10,000 per pupil on average.

Total education spending:

Nevada spent about $3.7 billion for public schools in fiscal 2011.

About 60 percent — or $2.2 billion — went to classroom instruction and student support services.

The remainder went to school administration, operations and school maintenance, teacher development, student transportation and food services. Central administration received the smallest piece of the pie, about $46 million.

Total spending for public education nationally was $604 billion. This includes employee salaries and benefits, facility maintenance and school construction, equipment, programs and interest on debt.

States spent the bulk of this money — about 71 percent — on classroom instruction and student support services. About 18 percent went to school operations and the remaining 11 percent went to administration.

Spending on classroom instruction totaled $323 billion, of which nearly 90 percent went to salaries and benefits for educators. Similarly, about 90 percent of the Clark County School District's general fund budget goes to salaries and benefits for educators.


Nevada saw the largest decline in state and local tax revenue nationally during 2011. The Silver State tied with Wyoming in experiencing an 8.5 percent drop in tax revenue for education.

Nevada collected an average of $8,576 per student during fiscal year 2011, a decline of about $800 per pupil from the previous year.

Nationally, the average state and local revenue — adjusted for inflation — was $10,690 per student in fiscal year 2011. That represents a $20, or 0.2 percent, increase in tax revenue from the previous year.

Nationally, federal, state and local revenue for education has declined by about $4 billion, or 0.7 percent between fiscal 2010 and 2011.

States and Washington, D.C. reported collecting about $604 billion in revenue for schools in fiscal 2011. The bulk of the revenue — about 88 percent — came from local and state sources.

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  1. Paul, can't you figure out that New York and New Jersey have much higher COL than Vegas? Utah and Wyoming are much more similar in COL, climate (cost of utilities, maintenance) YET we pay our teachers much more than nearby SD's.

  2. And the implication, as is often the case, is that higher spending yields better results and that just is not true. You can spend more and if you do it right, things will get better but just saying that more money is the answer is flat wrong. You look at numbers and Utah spends the least per pupil and is roughly in the middle of the pack. Wyoming was spending the most and was two places lower than Utah. Alaska had the third highest spending and was in the bottom 10. New York spent a bit less than Alaska and was 19th. There are a lot of factors that go into spending, including the population density, cost of living and other factors. The problem is less about amounts of money and more about what you do with it. When you look at spending as a whole in this country, we are spending over three times as much per student, adjusted for inflation, now versus 50 years ago. Over two times versus 40 years ago. But we have not seen any improvement in outcomes. While the general response in government is that if we spend X dollars and it does not work, it is because we underspent. But at some point, after spending more you have to say that perhaps we need to look at how we are spending and not how much.

  3. No increases. We spend TOO MUCH NOW. If and when we get acceptable results in literacy and graduation, if and when we get the economic benefits the "educators" keep conning us about, if and when, until then, we must prioritize our spending and deal with ESSENTIAL government services before dumping $3.7 Billion into a make-work program with guaranteed income for teachers and administrators.