Special Report

This is the Worst School District in Vermont

Every child is born to a unique set of circumstances. And it is these different social, familial, economic, environmental, and many other factors, that help shape who they become. While these conditions are countless, a handful of factors play an outsized role in a child’s development and likelihood for future success — including academic success.

Whether or not a child succeeds academically can depend considerably on school quality. A student who falls behind in one school district might have excelled academically in another. By no means limited to the classroom, many of the strongest influences on a child’s future are in the home environment, and the resources available or absent there.

The St. Johnsbury Town School District in northeastern Vermont ranks as the worst school district in the state. Per pupil spending in the distinct totals $13,187 a year, well below the $20,315 state average. While greater investment in education is no guarantee of improved outcomes, it can translate to certain advantages, such as small class sizes. In the St. Johnsbury district, there are 23 students per teacher, well above the student-teacher ratio of 11:1 across the state.

Outside the classroom, a relatively large share of local students are disadvantaged by financial hardship — which can negatively impact academic performance. An estimated 20.6% of children in the area live below the poverty line, more than double Vermont’s child poverty rate of 9.8%.

The four measures used to determine the worst school district in every state are: the child poverty rate, the teacher-to-student ratio, per-pupil spending, and the share of adults with a college education. All data came from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. This is the worst school district in every state.

State District Enrollment Annual per-pupil spending ($) Student-teacher ratio Adults with a 4-yr. degree or higher (%)
Alabama Eufaula City School District 5,427 $5,298 38:1 16.5%
Alaska Lower Yukon School District 2,006 $31,575 16:1 3.8%
Arizona Gadsden School District 32 5,274 $7,649 36:1 N/A
Arkansas Forrest City School District 2,531 $11,655 16:1 10.2%
California Mendota Unified School District 3,543 $12,746 N/A 2.4%
Colorado Las Animas School District RE-1 2,309 $8,049 60:1 9.7%
Connecticut Waterbury School District 18,751 $18,110 13:1 15.7%
Delaware Woodbridge School District 2,526 $15,027 15:1 14.3%
Florida Hamilton County School District 1,610 $11,212 20:1 7.9%
Georgia Treutlen County School District 1,122 $10,631 13:1 12.4%
Hawaii Hawaii Department of Education 181,278 $16,132 15:1 33.0%
Idaho Oneida County School District 351 2,464 $5,345 21:1 17.1%
Illinois Prairie Hills Elementary School District 144 2,802 $13,082 20:1 N/A
Indiana Union School Corporation 3,371 $4,188 22:1 16.3%
Iowa Clayton Ridge Community School District 1,020 $9,536 26:1 17.7%
Kansas Humboldt Unified School District 258 955 $9,187 22:1 15.4%
Kentucky McCreary County School District 2,878 $11,066 17:1 7.2%
Louisiana Madison Parish School District 1,243 $12,457 21:1 12.8%
Maine School Administrative District 68 1,015 $4,451 20:1 23.5%
Maryland Baltimore City Public Schools 79,297 $15,888 16:1 31.9%
Massachusetts Chelsea School District 6,088 $15,676 15:1 18.5%
Michigan River Rouge School District 2,279 $11,349 26:1 8.9%
Minnesota Worthington Public School District 3,904 $10,566 22:1 15.3%
Mississippi North Bolivar Consolidated School District 937 $10,199 15:1 16.5%
Missouri Hayti R-II School District 667 $9,945 13:1 5.3%
Montana Browning H S Dist 9 615 $12,462 16:1 N/A
Nebraska Lexington Public Schools 3,104 $11,971 15:1 12.5%
Nevada White Pine County School District 1,655 $10,543 28:1 13.2%
New Hampshire Berlin School District 1,159 $17,739 12:1 12.4%
New Jersey Trenton City School District 14,500 $16,791 16:1 12.2%
New Mexico West Las Vegas Public Schools 1,539 $12,455 16:1 13.4%
New York Niagara Falls City School District 7,159 $18,524 20:1 18.7%
North Carolina Robeson County Schools 22,044 $9,979 16:1 13.7%
North Dakota Williams County School District 8 653 $10,227 26:1 N/A
Ohio Clearview Local School District 1,654 $9,770 20:1 11.9%
Oklahoma Carnegie Public Schools 554 $11,060 14:1 14.4%
Oregon Marcola School District 593 $9,521 38:1 19.0%
Pennsylvania Greater Johnstown School District 2,984 $13,558 15:1 12.4%
Rhode Island Central Falls School District 2,695 $17,432 14:1 8.1%
South Carolina Dillon School District 4 4,134 $9,510 17:1 10.5%
South Dakota Todd County School District 66-1 2,099 $13,485 13:1 15.6%
Tennessee Union County School District 4,509 $7,852 20:1 9.9%
Texas Edgewood Independent School District 10,234 $9,922 16:1 4.6%
Utah Uintah School District 7,257 $8,365 24:1 15.8%
Vermont St. Johnsbury Town School District 1,070 $13,187 23:1 N/A
Virginia Colonial Beach Public Schools 671 $11,289 17:1 26.2%
Washington Mary M. Knight School District 1,658 $10,469 39:1 14.7%
West Virginia McDowell County School District 3,063 $13,070 13:1 5.4%
Wisconsin Milwaukee School District 75,431 $14,145 17:1 24.6%
Wyoming Niobrara County School District 1 809 $14,656 13:1 18.2%