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Growth Seen in States' Education Funds

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Despite declining enrollments and tight budgets, states' support for education increased an average of 62 percent between the 1977-78 and 1982-83 school years, a new report on state education spending has found.

The report, "State Support for Education 1982-83," was released this month by Augenblick, Van de Water and Associates, a Denver-based consulting firm that specializes in education policy and planning services. The report was written by John Augenblick and Gordon Van de Water. Mr. Augenblick was formerly the director of the Education Finance Center of the Education Commission of the States; Mr. Van de Water served as a policy analyst for ecs

The researchers used data from multiple sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, both branches of the U.S. Commerce Department. Additional information was provided by several professional associations, including the National Association of State Budget Officers and the National Education Association, and by the National Center for Edu-cation Statistics.

The analysis is intended as a tool for policymakers, providing them with a summary of financial and demographic trends that affect education, Mr. Augenblick said. Underlying the research, he said, was the question of whether the recent emphasis on elementary and secondary education had come at the expense of higher education. Previous research suggested that in at least one state, Idaho, this had been the case.

The analysis showed this was true in three other states--Indiana, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. In four other states--Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Maryland--the reverse was true.

"We were pleasantly surprised to find a number of states where both levels were doing well," Mr. Augenblick noted.

Among the other findings from the report:

The substantial average increase in education spending was "fueled by very large increases in the Western states." Increases in other regions were considerably smaller--less than 45 percent in the Great Lakes, mid-Atlantic, and Plains regions.

While funding was growing, public-school enrollment in most states was declining, a phenomenon that raised the level of per-pupil expenditures. In the five-year period covered by the report, the level of per-pupil support increased by an average of 79 percent. The increase was "enormous" in the Far West and "very high" in New England.

Per-capita state support for education, when analyzed by region, showed more variation in 1982-83 than in 1977-78.

Relative to personal income, state support for education declined an average of 9 percent during the five-year period. Only in the Far West, the report notes, did the tax burden of state support for schools increase.

The report, which includes a wall chart summarizing major trends, is available from Augenblick, Van de Water and Associates Inc., P.O. Box 20276, Denver, Colo. 80220. Single copies cost $15.00, prepaid; for orders of five copies or more, the cost is $13.50 per prepaid copy.--sw

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