Per student spending dips, drops NC to 43rd in nation

North Carolina is now 43rd in the nation and spends more than $3,000 less per student than the national average. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

When it comes to spending for students, the National Education Association estimates North Carolina is spending slightly less this year than last year.

North Carolina's per pupil spending for fall enrollment for last year was $8,954. The state's per pupil spending for fall enrollment this year is estimated at $8,940. The difference is less than $15, but it was enough to drop the state's ranking an entire point.

The difference is a problem for Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe.

"I did see those numbers, and, so what that means is we're not even funding our student growth," Van Duyn said. "People are moving to north Carolina. That's a good thing. We've got more kids in our public schools. That's a good thing. But we need to fund those kids."

Enrollment in North Carolina public schools is increasing. Between last school year and this school year, there's about a 1 percent increase in the number of students. Most of those are at the elementary school level. Enrollment levels actually decreased at the secondary level, according to that data.

When compared to the national average, North Carolina is moving the opposite direction. Looking at the last three years, there's been steady growth nationally, but not in the Tar Heel State.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, is not happy about the results.

"We continue to lose ground as compared to the rest of the country on making critical investments for our students. This is unacceptable and, quite frankly, it's embarrassing,"

Jewell said.

North Carolina is now 43rd in the nation and spends more than $3,000 less per student than the national average.

Late Wednesday Sen. Chuck Edwards said, "The true measurement for the success of education in NC should not be how much can we spend, but how well are we serving our children and how well are they prepared for adulthood. Furthermore, a measurement system where success is determined by its relationship to other states is flawed."

He also pointed to several efforts undertaken by legislators through the proposed Senate budget for those who do look at spending.

He said the budget includes "great strides" to increase teacher and principal pay among other things.

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