Utah spends an estimated $6 billion on K-12 education each year, but that amount still lags behind the national average, according to a Utah Foundation report.
In fact, the “Simple Arithmetic? K-12 Education Spending in Utah” analysis showed that the state has the smallest budget for education nationwide. In Salt Lake City, charter schools, such as City Academy, provide tuition-free education for students, although the report stated that more should be done to help these schools.
The report claimed that the state has a budget of almost $6,600 per average student, which is 42% below the national average.
Utah Foundation researcher Shawn Teigen said that this poses a problem since Utah’s student population has become bigger, with more than 600,000 children enrolled in the state school system.
As a result of insufficient funding, it forces classrooms to accommodate more students, which becomes more difficult for teachers. The report noted that Utah has the second biggest student-teacher ratio in the US.
A major downside to this situation involves restricted learning for students since teachers are unable to focus completely on just one student.
While the report indicated a need to increase the education budget, it also highlighted some positive points. For instance, Utah allots more money for teachers’ benefits than most states. Another positive finding involves charter schools in the state, which allots a higher percentage on support services and administration.
The report also cleared misconception on administrative expenses. Many believe that the state spends a significant portion of the budget on administration, which only receives 7% of the overall funds.
Teigen said that there are already several initiatives to increase revenue and the state budget for K-12 education. The report provides lawmakers with a “strong sense” of how Utah spends money, which will be important for the decision-making process.