Studies Differ on Utah's Per Pupil Spending

Studies Differ on Utah's Per Pupil Spending

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The nation's largest teachers union calculates Utah has moved out of last place in per-pupil spending. However, federal figures still have Utah in the cellar.

The National Education Association said Utah spent $4,674 per student, lagging all but North Dakota at $4,612 per student.

"We're excited to be a step up from the bottom, but if you look at the figures, we're not that much further ahead than North Dakota," said Mark Mickelsen, spokesman for the Utah Education Association. "I think it'll give people some hope you can move up, but I don't think we should be jumping up and down that we're $60 from the bottom."

However, according to the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics Utah remained last in per-pupil spending during the 2001-2002 school year, the same year reported in the NEA study.

The federal agency put Utah's spending at $4,769 and North Dakota's at $6,173. Mississippi has the second-lowest per-pupil spending at $5,235.

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has not reported per-pupil spending in the $4,600 range since 1998-99. The state's spending in 2001-2002 was $5,270, said Jerry Coleman, assistant director of school finance with the department.

"The (NEA's) numbers need some research," he said. "That sounds real low to me."

He said North Dakota's per-pupil spending is increasing because the state is maintaining its spending even though its enrollment is decreasing every year.

"Our spending is going up artificially," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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