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August 1, 2010

Eating away at education: Math doesn't add up when teacher salaries and budget cuts collide

Katy Murphy:

The math is simple: California schools have less money than most other states, but their teachers are the most highly paid in the nation.

Per pupil spending, on the other hand, trails the national average by about $2,500.
Until the financially troubled state government finds more money to invest in its public schools, which make up more than half of its general fund spending, something has to give.

School budgeting has become a zero-sum game.

California school districts spend more than half of their dollars on teacher pay and benefits. In better times, when education funding rose each year to keep pace with the cost of living, so did salaries. But the state now gives schools less money for each student than it did

Related: Study: California Classroom spending dips as ed funding rises; A Look at Per Student Spending vs. Madison
Spending in California classrooms declined as a percentage of total education spending over a recent five-year period, even as total school funding increased, according to a Pepperdine University study released Wednesday.

More of the funding increase went to administrators, clerks and technical staff and less to teachers, textbooks, materials and teacher aides, the study found. It was partially funded by a California Chamber of Commerce foundation.

Total K-12 spending increased by $10 billion over the five-year period ending June 30, 2009, from $45.6 billion to $55.6 billion statewide. It rose at a rate greater than the increase in inflation or personal income, according to the study. Yet researchers found that classroom spending dipped from 59 percent of education funding to 57.8 percent over the five years.

The report mentions that California's average per student expenditure is just under $10,000 annually. Madison's 2009/2010 per student spending was $15,241 ($370,287,471 budget / 24,295 students).

Posted by Jim Zellmer at August 1, 2010 6:42 AM
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