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Oklahoma still trailing regional states in per-pupil spending for schools

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2018-01-10 ne-edfundingg1

Federal data once again show Oklahoma trailing its regional peers in per-pupil education spending.

For Oklahoma to have matched Kansas in per-pupil common education spending during the 2015 fiscal year, it would’ve had to spend $1.6 billion more.

Kansas represents the high end of Oklahoma’s neighbors in per-pupil spending, spending $10,329 a year, while Oklahoma spends $8,075 per student. That’s according to the latest study from the National Center for Education Statistics, which was released this week. The per-pupil figure includes local and federal tax dollars.

Texas, which is the closest of Oklahoma’s neighbors to it in per-pupil spending, still spent $1,006 more per student than its northern neighbor. The regional average is $9,505 per student.

“This isn’t difficult math. We’re striving to compete with neighboring states for jobs and businesses while failing to keep pace with their investments in education,” Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said in a statement.

The statewide organization, which trains and represents locally elected school board members, continued to press for more funding to solve the state’s teacher shortage and increase what’s available in the classroom.

“This data should provide a sobering reality check and create a sense of urgency,” Hime said. “A bold investment in education is key to better preparing our children for the future, catalyzing economic development and creating a more prosperous future for our state.”

The data used in the National Center for Education Statistics study are from fiscal year 2015. Last year, its analysis using fiscal year 2014 data showed that Oklahoma’s per-pupil spending was the lowest among its neighbors at $7,995.

Samuel Hardiman

918-581-8466

sam.hardiman@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @samhardiman

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