Special Report

Cities Spending the Most (and Least) per Student

The Worst Funded School Districts

10. Hanna Public Schools, Oklahoma
> District spending per pupil:
$4,877
> State spending per pupil: $7,672
> Median household income: $28,750
> Enrollment: 310

Across the country, where the median household income is $53,046, schools are funded on average by equal parts from state and local sources — about 45% each — and 9% federal funding. In Oklahoma’s Hanna Public Schools district, where the typical household makes $28,750 a year, just 14.9% of total district funding is sourced locally. Federal funding accounts for 11.9% of the total district budget, and the remainder comes from state sources. Despite the large share of state subsidies, the district trails far behind the average Oklahoma school’s budget. The district spends an average of $4,877 per student a year, $2,795 less than the typical Oklahoma districts spends per student, and less than half the national average spending per student.

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9. Preston Joint School District 201, Idaho
> District spending per pupil:
$4,835
> State spending per pupil: $6,791
> Median household income: $45,586
> Enrollment: 2,535

Idaho spends an average of $6,791 per student annually, the second least of all states, and about $3,900 less than the national average spending per student. The Preston Joint School District 201 spends even less — just $4,835 per student. Although the poverty rate is 10.9% — 4.5 percentage points less than the national poverty rate — the school district only sources 8.9% of its total budget locally. Federal funds make up 17% of the district’s budget, a source that typically accounts for only 9.1% of district funding. Idaho has the most school-age children per income-producing adult than any state except for Utah and Alaska, so it is unsurprising that it draws more from outside its own tax revenues to fund its schools.

8. Texhoma Independent School District, Texas
> District spending per pupil:
$4,646
> State spending per pupil: $8,299
> Median household income: $55,938
> Enrollment: 376

Located just south of the Oklahoma state border, the Texhoma Independent School District is the most underfunded in Texas, and among the least funded nationwide. The district spends just $4,646 per student per year, less than half of the average American school district expenditure. While nationwide, an average school district draws 45.3% of its revenue from local sources, the Texhoma district gets more than 80% of its funding from local sources. Although the Texhoma Independent School District is the eighth least funded in the country, this doesn’t mean that all of its students are receiving low cost education. With only 51.2% of area students enrolled in private schools, the Texhoma Independent School District has the eighth lowest share of students receiving public educations on its budget.

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7. Waterford Unified School District, California
> District spending per pupil:
$4,435
> State spending per pupil: $9,220
> Median household income: $52,792
> Enrollment: 3,883

Three of the ten most underfunded school districts in the country are located in California — and Waterford is one of them. The Waterford United School District spends $4,435 annually per student, less than half the amount the average American school district spends. While nationwide, an average school district draws 45.3% of its revenue from local sources, such as taxes and parent contributions, the Waterford district gets slightly less, at 37.2% of its funding from local sources. With such low funding per student, it may not be surprising that only 68% of Waterford adults have a high school diploma, a significantly smaller share than the 86% of American adults with a high school education.

6. Vassalboro, Maine
> District spending per pupil:
$4,200
> State spending per pupil: $12,147
> Median household income: $47,661
> Enrollment: 1,212

The average Maine school district spends $12,147 per student a year, about $1,400 more than the average American school district. However, the Vassalboro school district spends far less — just $4,200 per student. Although the typical household income in the Vassalboro district of $47,661 is similar than the median household income for Maine’s school districts, it spends the sixth least on education per student of any district in the country. The district sources most of its funding, or 59.1%, from the state, 13.5 percentage points more than the typical school district. Local sources, such as taxes and parent contributions, account for 33% of funding.

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