At least 31 states provided less support per student for elementary and secondary schools — in some cases, much less — in 2014 than before the Great Recession, as our new report explains. In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period.
K-12 schools in every state rely heavily on state aid. On average, some 46 percent of school revenues in the United States come from state funds. Local governments provide another 45 percent; the rest comes from the federal government.
Because state aid comprises such a large share of school revenues, cuts to state funding generally force local school districts to scale back educational services, raise more revenue to cover the gap, or both.
When the Great Recession hit, however, property values fell sharply, making it hard for school districts to raise local property taxes — schools’ primary local funding source — without raising rates, which is politically challenging even in good times. As a result, local funding for schools fell nationally after the recession took hold, worsening the even steeper fall in state funding.
Local funding still hadn’t recovered in 2014, leaving total state and local funding for schools per student still well below pre-recession levels as of the 2014 school year — the latest year for which these data are available in most states.
This interactive map shows the percent change in total state, and state and local, K-12 funding per student since 2008, for each state with the necessary data.