Capitol Alert

California school spending lagged U.S., but has surged

Students crowd around the sink to rinse test tubes during a biology class at Bella Vista High School. San Juain Unified Schol District plans a science wing at the school to relieve overcrowding in science classes.
Students crowd around the sink to rinse test tubes during a biology class at Bella Vista High School. San Juain Unified Schol District plans a science wing at the school to relieve overcrowding in science classes. rbenton@sacbee.com

California’s spending on its 6-plus million K-12 public school students lagged behind the national average two years ago, according to a new Census Bureau report.

However, under Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2015-16 budget, California’s per pupil spending will have jumped by nearly 50 percent since then and should crack the ranks of the highest spending states.

The Census Bureau report tabs California’s operational spending (not counting capital outlay) on K-12 schools two years ago at $58.3 billion in state, local and federal funds or $9,220 per student.

California’s number was under the national average of $10,700 and was surpassed by 34 other states and the District of Columbia. New York was the highest at $19,818 and Oklahoma the lowest at $7,672. Rival Texas was lower than California at $8,299.

Brown’s revised budget for 2015-16 puts K-12 spending from all sources at $83 billion or more than $13,000 per student. It could go even higher if state revenues continue to top estimates, as the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, believes they will. The state constitution contains a voter-approved formula that requires a certain amount of revenue gains go to schools.

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