Nevada Per-Student Funding Ranks 37th

Nevada’s ranking on K-12 spending is not simple to calculate, nor without controversy

We actually rank 37th in education spending – at least we ranked 37th for the 2004/2005 school year anyway. That is the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics run by the federal government. This is a source that seems far more believable than local advocates. (In the two school years since 04/05, Nevada’s per-pupil education spending has been increased faster than the national average increase, so our ranking is likely even higher than 37th for this school year).

Every year, NCES sends this form to every school district in America, compiles the results and makes them available here.

Each year’s survey results are called the “Core of Common Data” and they form the basis for all national rankings of school systems.

Here are the steps to determine Nevada’s ranking:

  • Download the 2005 (v.1a – Final) zip file and uncompress it
  • Imported it into a database, say Access or SQL
  • Use a data analysis tool such as Crystal Reports to summarize the results by state
  • Export the summary data by state into an Excel datafile, such as this one. (you must have Excel installed to use this file)

Anyone can follow these directions and arrive at the same conclusion.

Nevada’s per-pupil expenditure of $8,707 ranks 37th, far from the bottom that some claim. Our payroll benefits per student ranks 30th.

Anticipating The Counter-argument

Those who say our funding ranks at the bottom insist that total expenditures is a deceptive number upon which to gauge our education spending. They suggest you should break total expenditures into “Current” and “Non-Current” expenditures, and throw out the “Non-Current” numbers.  And indeed, Nevada ranks lower amongst states in expenditures when you toss out part of each state’s expenditures.

Conversely, Nevada’s “Non-Current” ranking is much higher than our Total Expenditure ranking. In fact, Nevada ranks first in the difference in national rankings of “Current” and “Non-Current” expenditures (our ranking moves 33 positions, from 46 current to 13 non-current). The fastest growing state, Arizona, ranks 38th in non-current.

It turns out that our administrators in Nevada do not follow NCES guidelines on classifying total expenses between the two categories “current” and “non-current.” In fact, they include some of what NCES calls “current” in with their “non-current” totals, deflating “current” spending and inflating “non-current” spending. They appear to do this in order to facilitate spending construction bond funding on operating costs.

States Nevada Leads

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