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Report: Florida’s K-12 spending grew more slowly than most of the U.S.

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(The Center Square) — A recent study has found that K-12 spending in Florida had one of the lowest increases nationally between 2002 and 2020.

The Reason Foundation released the Public Education at a Crossroads study that showcases the spending habits of every state in regards to K-12 public education spending, enrollment levels, teacher salaries, and staffing – and data shows that Florida ranks 43rd in the nation.

According to the study, the Sunshine State’s inflation-adjusted education revenue has grown from $10,707 per student in 2002 to $11,526 per student in 2020, a growth rate of 7.6% (43rd highest). Spending on employee benefits grew by 18.2% and gave Florida a ranking of 47th in the nation, reflecting an increase from $1,515 per student to $1,791 per student.

Florida had over $14 billion in education debt in 2020, $202 per student less than in 2002. Over that same time period, Florida’s student population grew by 14.3%, while the number of public education staff grew by 21.7%. Teachers increased by 23.3%, and non-teaching staff increased by 20.3%.

However, the study showed that inflation-adjusted teacher salaries actually decreased between 2002 and 2020 from an average of $56,713 to $49,102, a shrinkage of 13.4% to rank Florida 48th.

In comparison, Georgia spent approximately $13,605 per student in 2020, a 6.3% growth rate from $12,803 per student in 2002, giving the Peach State an overall ranking of 45th.

Georgia increased employee benefits by 43.7%, which gives it a rank of 37th, increasing from $2062 per student to $2,963 per student. Total education debt in 2020 was $5.1 billion, decreasing by $811 per student compared to 2002. Inflation-adjusted teacher salaries had a -4.8% growth rate, ranking 38th, decreasing from $63,641 in 2002 to $60,578 in 2020.

Alabama spent similar numbers increasing education revenue from $10,192 per student in 2002 to $11,729 per student in 2020, a 15.1% growth rate, giving Alabama an overall ranking of 37th.

Employee benefits grew by 40.7% for 39th, going from $1,621 per student to $2,281 per student in 2020. By that time, education debt was approximately $5.2 billion.

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