As we get ready to enter the 2018 legislative season, Kentuckians have been continually hearing about supposed large reductions in education funding. The latest hand-wringing example was an article titled “Schools face uphill financial picture in face of state, local cuts” published on December 10, 2017 in Ashland’s The Daily Independent. The article contains a claim that “Kentucky has cut funding per student by 15.8 percent since 2008, adjusted for inflation.”
I pulled the 2007-2008 and the latest 2015-2016 Annual Financial Revenues and Expenditures reports from the Kentucky Department of Education (available from links here) to see what the overall amount of money going to Kentucky’s school districts looked like in those two years. The table tells the tale.
As you can see, in 2007-08 the Total Per Pupil Revenue in Kentucky averaged across all school districts was $9,966. That rose in 2015-16 to $13,320, an increase in non-inflation adjusted dollars of $3,354.
I used the very neat CPI Inflation Calculator from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics to compute inflation adjustments in January 2009 dollars for the 2015-16 spending, which is also included in the table. That calculation shows that between 2007-08 and 2015-16 real total revenue going to Kentucky’s school districts rose on average by $1,936 across Kentucky. That is a real increase of 19.4 percent.
So, Kentucky’s own data seems shows that far from seeing a decline in total dollars, once all sources of money are considered – local, state and federal combined – our schools have actually experienced a notable increase in real funding.