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K-12 Spending Outpaced GrowthIn State Budgets, Study Says

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State expenditures on elementary and secondary education grew nationally at a rate that outpaced both overall state budget growth and expenditures on higher education during much of the past decade, according to a study commissioned by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Nationally, state elementary and secondary expenditures rose 39 percent per pupil between 1984 and 1988, compared with an overall growth in state expenditures of 35 percent per capita, the study said.

Overall state higher-education spending rose 32 percent per student, according to the study conducted by the Denver-based education-consulting firm of Augenblick, Van de Walter & Associates.

An advance copy of the study, slated for formal release by the n.c.s.l. within months, was provided to Education Week by Gordon Van de Walter, a partner in the firm.

Mr. Van de Walter predicted that a continuation of the study to cover state expenditures after 1988 would have shown similar rates of growth until this year, when many states ran into fiscal hard times.

"This is the first time that we have had real data to show what we thought was taking place: The K-12 program has strengthened its appeal to legislatures, and legislatures across the country spent more on K-12 education than on the higher-education area," said John L. Myers, director of the education program for the n.c.s.l.

Breaking down its data by individual states, the study found that precollegiate-education expenditures outpaced higher-education spending, usually significantly, in 33 states. Fifteen states showed postsecondary spending growing at a faster rate, while in two states, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, the rates were the same.

Most of the states in which precollegiate-education spending prevailed were in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast, while Western states generally showed the strongest growth in postsecondary funding.

Despite its lower rate of growth, state support for higher education increased at a rate about 50 percent above an index of higher-education costs, the study noted.

Public-sector higher-education tuition levels increased by 33.6 percent, an average of $310, during the 1984-88 period.--p.s.

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