How is UT education funding spent?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) Nearly one fourth of the state’s budget is earmarked for education.

A new report released Tuesday gives a glimpse into what happens once it goes to your child’s school district.

Around $6 billion is spent every year on K-12 education in the state, according to Utah Foundation’s "Simple Arithmetic?" report, which also shows Utah spends the lowest in student spending.

In Utah classrooms, nearly $6,600 are spent on the average student. That’s 42 percent below the national average, according to Utah Foundation.

"This is not a small state anymore. We do have well over 600,000 kids in the state school system," said Shawn Teigen, researcher.

Teigen oversaw Utah Foundation’s research. He found 62 percent of funding goes to pay educator salaries; just seven percent pays administrators.

"We are a pretty lean state. Being last in spending means, when you break all of this out, we are well below the national average on almost everything we do here, Teigen said.

The side effect of the low budget? Larger class sizes, according to the report. That contributes to Utah having the second-highest student/teacher ratio in the country.

While the state’s education funding has risen since 2010, the Utah Education Association (UEA) said it’s not enough.

"We have enormous disparities in ability to adequately fund programs and districts are faced with challenges that are all based on chronic under-funding," said UEA President Heidi Matthews.

The Utah State Board of Education offered News4Utah’s this comment on the report:

"The Utah State Board of Education appreciates the Utah Foundation’s efforts to analyze school spending. The "Simple Arithmetic" report clarifies how money is spent on education in Utah and will help to inform continued discussions by board members and other policymakers on educational funding. As noted in the report, Utah’s K-12 educational costs remain low and administrative costs are among the lowest in the nation. Our state funding "effort" exceeds the national average, and we spend more than most states on teacher benefits. Understanding these complex issues and others helps us make better decisions in how we fund programs and systems. The Utah State Board of Education is working to increase transparency in school-level expenditures to maximize the impact of resources on student learning. Specifically, we working to be able to publish school-level expenditures in an easy-to-use, online format. We anticipate that this information will facilitate more informed decision-making among stakeholders at the state, school district, and school level that will lead to improved outcomes for Utah students. Despite our state’s funding challenges, we are fortunate that our education community consistently delivers positive results in the classroom."

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