Review K-12 spending since the 1990 passage of Oregon’s property tax limitation measure and analyze how school districts were impacted by the legislative efforts to equalize spending per student in all Oregon districts.
1. Overall finding
Complex changes in 1990s to K-12 funding makes simple statewide per student spending figures an incomplete way to compare and contrast how Oregon school district’s funding compares to other states.
Two factors impact those state-to-state comparisons:
Equalization process -- Provides comparable funding to all school districts based on a per student formula.
Districts with weak local property tax support saw spending per student increase above the rate of inflation
Districts with strong local property tax support saw funding slow and had to eliminate or scale back some programs
Special Education funding increases -- Funding to meet federal special education mandates took money away from regular programs from both sides of the equalization formula.
Since 1992 spending per student on special education in Oregon’s public schools increased 14.3 percent annually while spending on regular classroom instruction increased 3 percent annually.
In 1992 Oregon schools spent an average of $448 per student on special education. By 2000, the system spent $1,301 per student.
The national reports address overall spending but do not address the tradeoffs between spending for regular instruction and for special education instruction.
2. Support for K-12 education in Oregon trending downward
In the past decade Oregonian’s personal income grew 5.7 percent annually, but the percentage of that increase that went to K-12 public education decreased from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent.
Percent of personal income ranking
From 1991 to 2001:
Oregon’s national ranking based on per student expenditures dropped from 15th to 20th.
K-12 spending as a share of Oregonian’s personal income fell from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent while total personal income in the state increased at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent (12th highest) during 1990-2001 (from $52.2 billion to $97.8 billion).
Per student expenditure trends
In 1990s Oregon’s cost per student based on fall enrollment went from $5,195 to $7,357.
In same period, Oregon’s national ranking based on per student expenditures fell from 15th to 20th.
3. Oregon’s National Ranking on Salaries, Benefits
Oregon spend $346 less per student on salaries in its public schools than the national average.
Oregon spends $448 more per student on benefits than the national average.