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U.S. Census Bureau: Utah Ranks Last in Education Spending

PHOTO: When it comes to per-student funding for education, a state cannot rank any lower than Utah, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education.
PHOTO: When it comes to per-student funding for education, a state cannot rank any lower than Utah, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education.
June 3, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah ranks dead last in the nation for spending money on students at school, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The state spent $6,555 per student in fiscal year 2013, according to the report.

Lisa Nentl-Bloom, executive director of the Utah Education Association, said one consequence of underfunding education has been that teachers leave the state for better-paying jobs and classroom sizes swell.

"That's required schools in the state of Utah to make some difficult choices," she said. "Salaries for teachers certainly are lower than they are in some of the other states, and also class sizes are significantly increased."

Nentl-Bloom said it isn't uncommon to have 40 students in a classroom, when the goal would be about 25. She added that teachers leave Utah for lateral jobs in neighboring states that pay $10,000 a year more.

On a brighter note, Nentl-Bloom said Gov. Gary Herbert and state lawmakers increased education funding about $500 million this year as a result of the budget surplus. However, she said, making class sizes more manageable and recruiting and retaining teachers will require ongoing funding increases.

"You can have a great investment a couple of years, and that's extremely helpful, but it's the ongoing increase that's important," she said. "We have not kept pace with the cost of living, and so now we're having to catch up - and it is going take more than a couple of years to do that."

According to the Census Bureau, New York State leads the nation in per-pupil spending, at nearly $20,000, while the national average is $10,700 per student.

The report is online at census.gov. See Table 8 on page 8.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT