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States investing most in their schools' infrastructure

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States investing most in their schools' infrastructure

When it comes to the condition of its school facilities, the U.S. gets a near-failing grade (a D+ to be exact, according to the Infrastructure Report Card). There are an estimated 100,000 public school buildings on U.S. soil, and 24% of those facilities were rated as being in poor or fair conditions, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Even more disconcerting, their report also revealed that 40% of public schools didn’t have a long-term plan to address educational facilities maintenance. Many states reduced funding amounts for their schools during the 2008 recession and have yet to revisit the issue, regardless of the fact that more and more children are attending school every year. Between 1994 and 2013, the student population increased by five million, and enrollment is projected to increase even more (up to 3% more) by 2026.

A school’s infrastructure is essential to education quality, and the lack of good facilities can be detrimental to both the learning and the safety of students. Many students, especially those in low-income school districts, are forced to go without essentials like air conditioning in the summer, and on particularly hot days, they are forced to miss school completely because of it. The issue goes further still, from poorly constructed classrooms that may become dangerous or overcrowded, to less-than-ideal sanitation facilities.  

Capital outlay—or the money spent to maintain, repair, or upgrade fixed assets like school facilities—was at 8.3 % of U.S. total spending in 2016. That leaves $1,009 of U.S. capital outlay available per student. To give readers an idea of which states are in better shape in terms of school infrastructure, Stacker took capital outlay data from the U.S. Census 2012–2016 Annual Survey of School System Finances and compared it to the National Center for Education Statistics school enrollment reports by state for the 2015–2016 year. To go even further, Stacker found information on education and spending outcomes from local news sources and statistics from The Nation's Report Card, The ASCE Infrastructure Report, and high school graduation rates to compare on a state by state basis. The states were ranked from lowest to highest by their capital outlays per pupil in the 2012–2016 period.

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Sociotard // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Idaho

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $256
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 3.7% (#47 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $6,858 (#50 among all states)

Schools in Idaho are mostly funded by the state, with about 60% of funding coming from the state level. The rest comes from local money (28%) and the federal government (12%). Idaho legislature takes time every year to decide how much money will come from the state level, taking into account aspects such as student enrollment and teacher benefits. In 2018, the Boise-based education nonprofit Bluum was awarded $17.1 million in federal funds to expand public charter schools in Idaho.

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Swampyank // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Rhode Island

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $286
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 1.8% (#50 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $15,834 (#9 among all states)

The state saw a 1.3% increase in four-year graduation rates for the class of 2017, making for a 84.1% success rate. The Rhode Island Department of Education was able to secure $3 million in 2019 for afterschool and summer programs in the state. They have also developed an education-finance system to base spending off of student and district needs, and to invest about $2.3 billion into the public school system each year.


 

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Tech. Sgt. Eric Miller // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Maine

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $462
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 3.3% (#48 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $13,933 (#15 among all states)

Maine bases its spending formula on "essential programs and services” necessary for students to achieve learning goals. In 2017, 40% of eighth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in reading, above the national average. The state spent $2.6 million on elementary and secondary schools in 2016. In 2012, Maine switched its grading system to "proficiency-based learning,” but recently switched back to traditional diplomas.

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Pete Souza // Official White House

#47. North Carolina

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $466
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 5.3% (#44 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $8,877 (#45 among all states)

North Carolina’s public education system had $14 million worth of expenditure in 2016, and 1.5 million students enrolled. The following year, fourth grade students tested slightly above the national average in mathematics. The state superintendent is introducing plans in 2019 to reduce the amount of testing in public schools, after 78% of parents reported that their children took too many tests.

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Matt Lee Smith Jr. // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Nevada

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $486
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 5.5% (#43 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $8,876 (#46 among all states)

The average score for Nevada fourth graders in mathematics has increased since 2000 by about 12 points, but it’s still slightly lower than the national average for public school students. The two largest school districts (Clark County and Washoe County) have both voted on tax increases to help fund schools, albeit with different outcomes. Clark’s proposal was turned down by voters twice, while Washoe approved a tax increase that will put $1 billion toward building and maintaining 18 new schools.

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NPS

#45. Arizona

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $534
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.5% (#27 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $7,145 (#48 among all states)

In the 2015–2016 school year, there were 1,109,040 students enrolled in Arizona public schools, with a teacher to student ratio of 23 to 13. A large number of teachers in the state left their classrooms to go on strike in 2018, and the walkout was resolved only after the governor signed a bill that would raise their pay 20% over three years. Currently, lawmakers are considering several different bills that would change the way teachers could choose to conduct their classes.

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Tennessee

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $578
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.1% (#39 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $9,405 (#43 among all states)

The education system in Tennessee is on the rise, with sustained levels of improvements over the past eight years. A 2018 report by the National Council on Teacher Quality credited teacher evaluations for making Tennessee "a model for the rest of the country on how to spur academic growth and increase teacher retention.” While the budget has increased slightly in per-student spending for Tennessee schools, it’s still much lower (14%) than it was before the recession.

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Office of Senator Bernie Sanders // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Vermont

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $592
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 3.2% (#49 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $18,566 (#5 among all states)

Funding for Vermont’s schools has pretty much stayed level since the 1990s. In 2018, the governor signed a bill intending to improve services for special education students, improving the methods in which funding decisions are made for the programs. Average scores for both eighth grade and fourth grade students were significantly higher than the national average in 2016 in math, reading, and science.

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Mark Wolfe // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Florida

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $600
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.3% (#38 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $9,479 (#42 among all states)

Less than 1% of Florida students—0.1%, to be exact—live in school districts that meet the national benchmark for spending. The state has been fighting a lawsuit for the past nine years against a group of parents who’ve said that the legislature hasn’t met constitutional obligations for providing quality education through funding. The ASCE gave Florida a D+ in school infrastructure for 2016, noting that the faster-growing counties may not be allocating enough space for its enrollment rates.

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AlexiusHoratius // Wikimedia Commons

#41. New Hampshire

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $639
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 4.1% (#45 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $15,516 (#10 among all states)

New Hampshire is going through some scrutiny from residents who don’t believe the state is doing everything it can to provide adequate funding for schools. The state has closed three elementary schools since 2009, forcing other schools to retrofit in order to accommodate more students. According to some parents, the education funding formula hasn’t been working. The state adequacy grants only cover about 18% of educational costs in New Hampshire, while 60% comes from local taxes.

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Woodlot // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Mississippi

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $642
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.0% (#31 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $9,193 (#44 among all states)

When it comes to state funding, high school seniors in Mississippi receive $33,000 less than the national average over the course of their education. Mississippi legislature has only fully funded the program used to determine public school funding twice since 1997. In August 2018, the state finally passed a law putting lotteries into effect, with hopes that the implementation would increase funding for the state. Finances from the lottery will go toward infrastructure and the education enhancement fund.

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Notorious4Life // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Michigan

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $657
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 5.8% (#41 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,367 (#29 among all states)

Education funding in Michigan has fallen since 2002, thanks largely in part to declining taxes. As a result, the state has been taking $600 million out of the School Aid Fund to address other expenses that used to come out of the general fund from taxes. Public school testing has declined rapidly, and researchers at University of Michigan estimate the state would need $3.6 billion in additional revenue to give students an "adequate education.”

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Tomwsulcer // Wikimedia Commons

#38. New Jersey

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $777
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 4.0% (#46 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $19,244 (#3 among all states)

In July 2018, the New Jersey governor’s office signed into law an overhaul of the state’s school funding formula for the first time since 2008. The bill will increase the direct aid to school funding by $351 million, compared to the previous year. The New Jersey Schools Development Authority began renovations on Millville High School (which accommodates 2,000 students) in February 2019. The project will add 230,000 square feet of additional buildings and renovate 55,000 square feet of space.

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Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington // Flickr

#37. Oregon

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $786
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.8% (#33 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,601 (#27 among all states)

School maintenance in Oregon is funded by the Oregon School Capital Improvement Matching Program rather than through the state’s department of education. The state grants money to school districts that are able to pass bonds through voter approval, so the schools relies more on taxpayers when it comes to funding. Gov. Kate Brown is proposing a $100 million investment in school facilities for her 2019-2021 budget.

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Rivers A. Langley // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Alabama

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $787
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.8% (#26 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,073 (#41 among all states)

Alabama's state graduation rate was 90% in 2016, though no schools in the state had a 100% on-time graduation rate. Adjusting for inflation, Alabama is spending less on school funding than it was in 2006, and no changes have been made to its foundation program (or school funding formula) since 1995. The discrepancy between the wealthy districts and the poorer districts is also up for debate. Unlike some other states, Alabama schools get most of its funding from the state level— though that’s not the case for the wealthier school districts, which tap significant funds from local tax dollars.

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Cliff // Flickr

#35. Virginia

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $850
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.0% (#30 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $12,131 (#23 among all states)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill in July 2018 that expanded school spending, along with Medicare and teacher salaries. This choice came at a time when Virginia teacher salaries had fallen to $8,000 lower than the national average. The state still has a 90.8% graduation rate, and six schools with a 100% graduation rate in 2016.

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Charles Edward Miller // Flickr

#34. Wisconsin

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $856
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.8% (#32 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $12,563 (#20 among all states)

Wisconsin began the construction of a brand new high school in May 2018, a project that will take two years and $183 million to complete. That same year, the Wisconsin Department of Justice started taking applications for $100 million worth of grants for school districts to modify infrastructure, amid safety and security concerns about school shootings. In 2016, 81% of students graduated in the state, and 42 schools had a 100% graduation rate.

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Derek Jensen // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Indiana

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $875
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.3% (#23 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,590 (#36 among all states)

In 2017, over half of the state’s spending plan was allocated to education. In 2018, it rose by 1.6% and will continue to increase another 1.7% in 2019. The Indianapolis school board has voted to change its approach to spending for the past two years, with the latest bill aimed at giving principals more power over their own school’s budgets and increasing funds to schools located in poorer communities.

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Toniklemm // Wikimedia Commons

#32. Oklahoma

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $880
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 10.3% (#12 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $8,573 (#47 among all states)

In 2018, Oklahoma teachers staged a walkout to protest their low salaries and lack of adequate education funding. At the time, the state ranked in the bottom three for teacher salaries in the entire country. State funding per student went down by 15.6% between 2008 and 2015. The cutbacks were getting so bad that schools in 91 different districts were forced to implement a four-day school week, leaving parents without a place to bring their children on Fridays. The strike ended after teachers secured pay raises, but not much else.

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Governer Earl Ray Tomblin // Flickr

#31. West Virginia

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $887
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.1% (#29 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $12,504 (#21 among all states)

In 2017, the graduation rate for West Virginia was 86.5%, yet only 28% of its residents were college educated. The state narrowly passed a controversial bill in February 2019 that called for a 5% raise for teachers. The bill also contained items that proved concerning for both educators and parents, concerning charter schools and educational savings accounts.

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John F. Williams U.S. Navy // DOD

#30. Hawaii

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $904
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.6% (#37 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $13,680 (#16 among all states)

The estimated cost of repairing Hawaii’s aging schools reached $293 million in 2017, up 5% from previous years. The average building age of schools in Hawaii is 61 years old, with a whopping 20% of school campuses over a century old—an age that's much higher than the national average of 44 years. One out of every 55 schools in the state saw a 100% graduation rate in 2017, with an overall score of 82.7%.

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Tewy // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Colorado

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $932
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 9.2% (#17 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,157 (#39 among all states)

Not much has changed about Colorado’s education funding formula since it was first implemented in 1994. Funds are distributed by student population within a district, rather than taking into account factors such as cost of living, at-risk youths, and size of school district itself. The state spends $7 million each year on the education of its P-12 students, and only about 75% of students graduate.

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David Schott // Flickr

#28. Montana

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $950
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.0% (#25 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,934 (#25 among all states)

In August 2017, the state cut funding for public education by $19 million, meaning teachers had to cut back on supplies, field trips, and general educational material. Fast forward to 2019, and lawmakers continue to battle over different bills addressing education—one supported by a majority of Republicans, the other by Democrats. For fiscal year 2019, Montana is projected to spend 30% of its state and local total spending on education.

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Playden75 // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Missouri

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $958
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.6% (#20 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,091 (#32 among all states)

Missouri’s education costs will total 30% of the state and local spending in 2019. Graduation rates leveled around 93% for the state, and a large total of 88 schools are at 100%. In the most recent "state of the state” address, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson called for the full funding of the K-12 education formula, as well as $22 million to train employees at colleges and universities throughout the state.

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Governor Tom Wolf // Flickr

#26. Pennsylvania

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $962
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.1% (#40 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $15,842 (#8 among all states)

According to the ASCE, in 2017 the school funding debt was double the national average in Pennsylvania, making it the second highest in the country. Despite this estimated $1.4 billion gap in school capital expenditures, most schools in the state remain in good condition. The $32.7 billion state budget for the 2018–2019 year increased education spending without raising taxes.

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Richard David Ramsey // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Louisiana

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $970
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.6% (#21 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,256 (#30 among all states)

In Louisiana, federal funding amounts to about 13% of the total education budget, with 44% coming from the state level, and 43% from the local level. For many years, public education in Louisiana was ranked among the lowest in the country, with not only low student scores on standardized tests but high unemployment rates among high school graduates. Studies have shown that new reforms like offering industry certifications as part of high school diplomas and changes in curriculum have caused test scores, graduation rates, and college enrollment to rise.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture // Flickr

#24. Georgia

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $974
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 9.5% (#15 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,242 (#38 among all states)

Before 2018, the state of Georgia hadn’t fully funded the formula used to pay for public school education in over a decade. Gov. Nathan Deal signed a new budget in 2018 which finally allowed for the full funding of the school formula and put $9.9 billion into K-12 schools for the 2019 fiscal year. Graduation rates are on the rise in the state, with 2018 seeing 81.6% of students graduating on time—the highest rate for Georgia in six years.

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Jeff Hitchcock // Flickr

#23. Utah

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $979
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 13.9% (#4 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $7,021 (#49 among all states)

K-12 education accounted for 23% of the state’s overall budget in 2018. It is second to last in total school funding per student in the U.S., as well as last in funding from the federal government level. Since 2012, funding for public schools in Utah has increased by $1.22 billion. Graduation rates have steadily increased since 2013, reaching 86% in 2017.

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COD Newsroom // Flickr

#22. Illinois

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $984
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.7% (#36 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $14,755 (#12 among all states)

Eighth and fourth grade students in Illinois tested at the same level as the national average in 2017 for math and reading. Reports show that when it comes to school funding, Illinois historically gives about 22% less to districts with the highest poverty levels. In an effort to combat these concerning numbers, the state completed new reforms to its education funding formula in 2017.

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Kentucky

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,005
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 9.2% (#16 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,934 (#33 among all states)

Kentucky uses a state funding program called "SEEK” to formulate how much money the state allots to its education program. The 2018–2020 state budget outlined an increase in spending per student from $3,981 to $4,000. When adjusted for inflation, however, the number is still lower than the spending in 2008 by about 16%. When it comes to standardized testing, a majority of Kentucky students performed at or above the national average in 2017.

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WestportWiki // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Connecticut

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,013
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 5.5% (#42 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $18,500 (#6 among all states)

Connecticut increased its spending on education from about $15,000 per student in 2009 to over $19,000 in 2015. When compared to its neighboring state of Massachusetts, Connecticut spends more money for lower income districts but achieves lower test scores. This discrepancy is a result of not enough new reforms in the Connecticut education system, according to local news agency CT Mirror.

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Delaware

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,019
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 7.2% (#28 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $14,141 (#14 among all states)

Public education in Delaware makes up over a third of the state’s budget of over $4 billion, and the current governor’s proposed budget for the new year would raise that number by 5.5%. A portion of that money would be used to improve education conditions for high needs programs like special education and children that meet poverty levels. Out of the 19 school districts in Delaware, eight have poverty rates of 40% or more, two of which have more students living in poverty than not.

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Kurt Moses // NPS

#18. California

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,034
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.9% (#18 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,586 (#28 among all states)

Public school graduation rates in California in 2018 rose slightly by 0.3% from the previous year. but were still lower than in 2016, when the rate was at 83.8%. The dropout rate declined from 16.6% in 2010 to 9.6% in 2018.  California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for the 2019–2020 fiscal year would increase funding for early and higher education, while using surplus money to fulfill teacher pension obligations.

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Jeffrey Beall // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Arkansas

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,057
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 9.9% (#14 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,723 (#35 among all states)

The Arkansas House of Representatives voted unanimously to increase the minimum for teacher salaries by $4,000 over a span of four years to 2023. Since 2015, the state has increased the minimum salary rates each year, but before that the number hadn’t changed at all since 2009. When it comes to keeping college students in school, 82% make it past their first year at the University of Arkansas, which is greater than the national average of 72%.

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Tim Evanson // Flickr

#16. Ohio

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,115
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.6% (#22 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $13,009 (#19 among all states)

Ohio uses local funding to pay for 52.1% of its total education budget for public schools, more than the state and federal level combined and the 13th highest in the nation. There are 29 other states in the country that receive more money from the federal level than Ohio. Local government pays for a majority of school funding.

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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Massachusetts

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,131
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.8% (#34 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $16,696 (#7 among all states)

Four-year graduation rates in Massachusetts have improved for the past 11 years straight, most recently from 87.5% in 2017 to 88.3% in 2018. Additionally, the dropout rate fell by 1.8% in 2017, another improvement. A series of bills filed in 2019 would provide an update to Massachusetts’ 26-year-old education funding formula and garner millions of dollars more for public schools.

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Creative Commons

#14. South Carolina

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,201
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 10.8% (#11 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,127 (#31 among all states)

The Education Finance Act was enacted in South Carolina in the late 1970s to assist schools in poorer districts attain adequate funding, but they haven’t been fully funded since 2008. In addition, funding for the 2018 year remained hundreds of millions of dollars below the state law requirements. Public schools in the state have changed testing requirements at least 10 times since 2000, making standardized testing difficult to track and analyze.

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EricEnfermero // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Texas

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,203
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 11.9% (#9 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,137 (#40 among all states)

While education spending in Texas hasn’t seen much adjustment over the past 10 years, the sources of that money have shifted, according to the Texas Tribune. In 2008, funds from the state and local level were evenly matched at $18 billion each, but in 2017 the state was paying $19 billion, and the the local share had risen to $27 billion. The latest data shows Texas as the fourth highest in the nation for graduation rates, at 89%.

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Maryland Gov Pics // Flickr

#12. Maryland

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,212
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.0% (#24 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $15,195 (#11 among all states)

The state commission in Maryland approved a budget in January 2019 that tacked on an extra $3.8 billion for education spending over a 10 year period. Which portions will come from the state and local levels, however, has yet to be decided. Maryland ranks 13th overall in the nation for K-12 education, with 46% of its residents college educated.

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Hanyou23 // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Nebraska

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,311
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 10.0% (#13 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $13,055 (#18 among all states)

Nebraska relies much more heavily on support from the local level (via property taxes) to fund its schools, and as of 2012 ranked 49th in the country for funding provided by the state to support education. Students in the fourth and eighth grades have shown continuously higher scores than the national average in math, reading, science, and writing since the early 2000s. In 2019, the Nebraska Department of Education launched an open educational resources hub the brings educators together to design, organize, and share resources to provide better educational services to students and teachers.

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Fargo Public Schools // Wikimedia Commons

#10. South Dakota

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,360
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 13.2% (#7 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,296 (#37 among all states)

South Dakota hasn’t seen much change in high school graduation rates in recent years, moving from 83% to 83.9% between 2011 and 2015. The state law allows school districts to implement an "opt-out” if necessary, so it can impose a higher tax levy and raise additional revenues for funds. In August 2018, the state raised its sales tax by $0.005 in order to help raise salaries for teachers.

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McGhiever // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Minnesota

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,433
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 10.9% (#10 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $13,169 (#17 among all states)

In 2017, the state approved $483 million in new funding for the public school system, but received flack from the teachers union because of a new policy of hiring and firing. Minnesota has over 860,000 students in public schools, with historically some of the best test scores in the nation, but some of the largest gaps between students of different races. The newly appointed education commissioner for Minnesota public schools is a third-generation teacher herself, and she plans to finally close these gaps.

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Jay Inslee // Flickr

#8. Washington

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,532
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 12.7% (#8 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $12,100 (#24 among all states)

A report published in 2018 revealed a big discrepancy in Washington public schools’ funding, with the new budget plan (to take full effect by the 2020–2021 school year) allotting less money for needy schools and more money for wealthy schools. The budget, signed in 2017, will put $7.3 billion into the public school system by raising property taxes over four years. The bill also provides more money for special education and changes the existing teacher salary schedule.

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D-Day // Wikimedia Commons

#7. New York

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,573
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 6.8% (#35 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $23,248 (#1 among all states)

Not only does New York spend more per student than any other state, it’s also 90% above the national average. The state has increased per student spending every year since 2012. During the 2016 fiscal year, New York education revenue was $36 billion from taxes, $27 billion from state funding, and $4 billion from the federal level. New York ranks 23rd in the country for overall education and 31st for K-12 education.

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Laura Gilchrist // Flickr

#6. Kansas

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,621
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 13.6% (#5 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $11,889 (#26 among all states)

In 2018, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that school funding in the state didn’t meet adequate requirements set forth in the Kansas Constitution. The court gave lawmakers a year deadline to find a way to put enough money into the budget and provide students with a quality education. Regardless, Kansas still ranked #21 recently in overall education, #27 in K-12, and #15 in higher education.

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US Department of Education's Photostream // Flickr

#5. Iowa

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,661
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 13.3% (#6 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $12,453 (#22 among all states)

The U.S. Department of Education reports that Iowa is spending more money on education than in the past, from $1.9 billion in 2000 to $3.2 billion in 2018. Over 82% of school funding in Iowa goes toward educator salaries and benefits. The state boasts one of the highest graduation rates in the country, at close to 91% in 2015.

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John Phelan // Wikimedia Commons

#4. New Mexico

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,686
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 15.5% (#3 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $10,888 (#34 among all states)

New Mexico had one of the worst graduation rates in the country in 2016, with only 67.9% of students receiving a diploma on time. New Mexico’s last three governors have attempted to improve education in the state to no avail. The government promoted charter schools, then it raised teacher salaries by 50%, and finally the government went so far as to publicly reveal the grades of poorly performing schools.

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NPS

#3. Alaska

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $1,811
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 8.9% (#19 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $20,332 (#2 among all states)

Alaska legislature passed a capital budget in 2018 that will give an extra $20 million to the state’s 53 school districts in 2019, which is a 2% increase from the previous year. Additionally, a separate bill was passed that would allow for a $30 million school funding increase in the 2019–2020 school year. As of 2018, public school test scores in Alaska were below the national average, with the gap widening since 2015. In 2017, fourth grade reading scores in the state were the lowest in the country.

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Creative Commons

#2. North Dakota

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $2,468
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 16.8% (#2 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $14,696 (#13 among all states)

North Dakota schools saw a $3.7 million increase in federal funding in 2018, and state law gives districts flexibility on how to spend their share of the money. According to local news, some schools are opting for more security measures like safety officers and security cameras, while others are using the funding to improve mental health services. North Dakota ranks 10th overall in education in the U.S., 28th in K-12, and sixth in higher education.

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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Wyoming

- Capital outlay per student (2012–2016): $3,334
- Capital outlay percent of total spending: 17.5% (#1 among all states)
- Total expenditures per student (2012–2016): $19,052 (#4 among all states)

Wyoming consistently spends much more per pupil than the national average and pays its teachers more than neighboring states like Colorado. (Wyoming teachers received almost a $60,000 average salary in 2018). Changes in Wyoming’s spending are thanks in part to a past lawsuit against the state, where federal funding was found insufficient. The state has scored well above the national average for testing in reading and math since 1992.

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