Special Report

America's Richest School Districts

The Poorest School Districts in America

10) Centennial School District R-1, Colo.

>Median household income: $18,980
>Pct. households earning $200,000+: 1%
>Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 6.2%
>Expenditure per student: $16,323
>Pct. local funding: 51%

The Centennial School District in San Luis, Colo., has three schools for the area’s 220 students. Residents in the area are extremely poor, with 30% of households receiving food stamps or some form of government assistance. The expenditure per student, $16,323, is higher than the national average. Despite relatively high per-student spending, less than half of Centennial School students met proficiency levels of the Colorado Student Assessment Program state exam in 2010-2011 school year. Less than three in four adults in San Luis have a high school diploma, while only 11% hold a bachelor’s degree.

9) Pineville Independent School District, Ky.
>Median household income: $18,933
>Pct. households earning $200,000+: 1.3%
>Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 16.3%
>Expenditure per student: $9,829
>Pct. local funding: 12%

With a median household income of just $18,933, Pineville households earn more than $30,000 less than the national median. Similarly, the median home value is only $58,600 compared to the national median of $188,400. These low home values have affected the community’s abilities to provide for its own students through property taxes. The Pineville Independent School District spends $9,829 per student, and only 12% of that is provided by local residents. Less than 50% of high school students received proficient scores in writing or social studies on the Kentucky Core Content Tests.

8) San Perlita Independent School District, Tex.
>Median household income: $18,875
>Pct. households earning $200,000+: 0%
>Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 30% (7th)
>Expenditure per student: $19,413
>Pct. local funding: 26%

San Perlita, located in southern Texas, has one of the largest proportions of households earning less than $10,000 per year at 30%. Unlike other school districts on this list, the majority of San Perlita students are meeting the proficiency levels on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills and are actually exceeding the average test scores in the state. This achievement is acknowledged by the school’s appearance on the U.S. News 2012 Best High Schools list, which also mentions that 70% of the student population is “economically disadvantaged.” State test scores indicate that the school district appears to be making good use of its $19,413 per pupil expenditure, despite the community’s poverty. The majority of the school’s revenue — 63% in all — comes from state funds.

7) New Boston Local School District, Ohio
>Median household income: $18,604
>Pct. households earning $200,000+: 0%
>Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 16.9% (90th)
>Expenditure per student: $9,962
>Pct. local funding: 34%

More than half of the households in the New Boston school district of Ohio make less than $25,000, compared to just 16% of households nationwide. The median home value in New Boston is $51,100, while the U.S. median value is almost four times as much. Math proficiency levels on the Ohio Achievement Test for grades 3 to 6 are extremely low compared to the state averages. The $9,962 expenditure per pupil is characteristically low for the poorest school districts.

6) Hayti R-II School District, Mo.
>Median household income: $17,599
>Pct. households earning $200,000+: 0%
>Pct. households earning less than $10,000: 18.9% (59th in list)
>Expenditure per student: $10,484
>Pct. Local Funding: 28%

In the Hayti school district, 74.6% of households earn less than $50,000 a year and 45.3% of households receive food stamps or other government assistance. In addition, property values are also quite low, with a median home value of just $54,100. As low home values lead to low property taxes, local sources of income accounted for just 28% of the funds collected by the school district. On the Missouri Assessment Program exams, proficiency levels of Hayti students were well below the state averages on most of the sections, including biology, English and communication arts. Just 6.3% of district adults have a bachelor’s degree, compared to a national average of 28%.

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