Facts and Figures: Comparing Funding Levels for Rural Schools By State

Last Updated: January 24, 2011

This article appeared in the January 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

Question: In which ten states do funding levels vary the most between rural districts? In other words, in which states is the funding gap largest between high-wealth rural districts and low-wealth rural districts?

Hint: In most cases, the answer has to do with how heavily the state’s funding formula relies on local wealth, usually local property taxes, to fund schools. In states that fail to offer extra assistance (or enough extra assistance) to districts where property values are low, there is more difference in how much money schools have to spend on educating their students. Be sure to read, “Equity and Adequacy in School Funding” in this month’s issue of RPM.

Answer: In Idaho, some rural districts have twice as much combined state and local revenue for schools as other rural districts. Funding is even more unequal in Oregon, where some schools have two and a half times as much state and local funding. Other states where funding is the most unequal (inequality is higher than the national average) are: California, Texas, Massachusetts, Montana, Colorado, New York, Arizona, and Nevada.

Read more from the January 2011 Rural Policy Matters.

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