Federal Funds for Schools Down To Lowest Level Since 1960's

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The federal government's contribution to the funding of public schools has declined to an estimated 6.4 percent of the total outlay for schooling this year, the lowest level since the 1960's, according to a study scheduled to be released this week by the National Education Association.

In the study, the 42nd edition of "Estimates of School Statistics," the nea, the nation's largest teachers' union, also estimates that this year state governments will finance 49 percent of the schools' budgets and local government will provide 44.5 percent.

A decade ago, the states contributed 42.7 percent of school budgets and local governments provided 49 percent, according to the study, which is based on estimates provided by state education agencies.

Salaries Up 6.3 Percent

The study, which is prepared for the use of state and local nea affiliates in collective-bargaining, research, and lobbying activities, also calculates that the average salary of teachers rose 6.3 percent from 1982-83 to 1983-84, from $20,715 to $22,019.

Average salaries were found to be highest in Alaska ($36,546), Michigan ($28,877), and the District of Columbia ($27,659). They were found to be lowest in Mississippi ($15,895) and South Dakota ($16,480).

The total number of teachers declined from 2.14 million in 1982-83 to 2.12 million this year, according to the study, while the total number of instructional staff declined from 2.43 million to 2.41 million during the same period.

Between 1982-83 and 1983-84, enrollment in public secondary and elementary schools declined by 1.2 percent, from an estimated 39.7 million to an estimated 39.2 million, according to the study, which also notes that enrollment has declined each year since 1973-74, when 43.4 million students attended public schools.

Fewer Systems

The study also found a continued decline in the number of school systems in the nation. It estimates that there are 15,567 districts operating this year, compared with 15,614 last year.

The nea estimates in the study that total expenditures for elementary and secondary education during this school year will be $126.9 billion, compared with $119.1 billion last year, or a 6.5-percent increase.

The 1.6-million-member union also projects that an average of $3,000 will be spent per pupil during this school year, up 7.7 percent from last year's level of $2,786.

According to the study, New York ($4,477), New Jersey ($4,428), and Wyoming ($4,022) will spend the most money per pupil during the this school year, while Mississippi ($1,895), Utah ($1,965), Arkansas ($2,025), and Alabama ($2,019) will spend the least.

The study was compiled by the association's research division.--tt

Vol. 03, Issue 31

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