EdNC reports on the latest meeting of the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education. One issue raised was the different funding levels between higher-income and lower-income school districts:
“You can sit here in Wake County and there are eight or nine, 10 counties within less than an hour drive that all have those kinds of differences in dollars,” (Keith) Poston (executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina) said. “And so what’s happening is the local districts are actually feeling a lot of pressure to keep up with the higher-level counties.”
The implication from many of the comments was that low-income districts receive less funding than higher-income districts. But is this true?
Research revealed in this 2015 article paints a different picture. Some highlights of the findings include:
These data points were compiled and plotted on the chart below. As you can see, one thing is certain: there is no correlation in the data backing the claim that low-income counties receive lower levels of per-pupil funding.
Indeed, if any trend can be detected, it is that low-income districts tend to receive higher levels of per-pupil funding than their higher-income colleagues….
- Poor counties receive more school funding: Out of the 20 poorest counties (as measured by per-capita income), 15 received more than the state average in total funding per student.
- The 20 poorest counties averaged total school funding of $10,000 per student – eight percent above the state average.
- Higher-income counties receive lower levels of school funding: Out of the 20 highest-income counties, only 6 received funding above the state average.
- Average per student total funding for the 20 highest-income counties was $8,954, below the state average and more than 10 percent less than the funding levels of the 20 poorest counties.
Arguments about why schools in lower-income areas may need more funding are separate to the point of this article. The data presented here are useful only to evaluate district per student funding levels compared to area income levels.