Georgia trails other states on educational spending

Georgia ranked near the bottom among U.S. states when it came to investing in education after the Great Recession, according to two new reports.

The state spent $4,466 per pupil during the 2011-12 school year, below the 50-state average of $6,189, according to a June report by the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University. Georgia spent less than any of its adjoining states except Florida, ranking 40th.

Georgia’s rank rose six places when local revenue was added, since less than half of educational funding came from state coffers. But the total per-student amount of $9,402 was still less than the $11,337 average among states.

Georgia paid its teachers better than might be expected: The average salary during the 2013-14 school year was $52,924. That’s below the national average of $56,610, but it’s 23rd among states and above the per-capita personal income in Georgia of $39,097. (The state ranked 40th in per-capita income.)

Another study found similar results for 2012. The Education Law Center and Rutgers University reported this spring that Georgia ranked 36th in “funding level,” a measure that incorporates overall educational funding and per-pupil spending, with adjustments for regional wages, poverty, economies of scale and population density.

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The report — “Is School Funding Fair?” — found Georgia also had one of the bigger socioeconomic gaps in early childhood education enrollment, with 40 percent of low-income children enrolled versus 62 percent who were not low-income. Only about a fifth of the states had a higher proportion of their poor children enrolled, though.

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