Idaho ranks No. 50 for rural per-pupil spending

Idaho ranked dead last in the nation for per-pupil spending in rural schools in 2015-16, according to a recent study.

The report, conducted by the Rural School and Community Trust and titled “Why Rural Matters 2015-16: Understanding the Changing Landscape,” compared rural spending in all 50 states.

The lower the ranking, the more urgent the issues facing a state’s rural schools. Idaho came in No. 17 overall, with Mississippi ranked No. 1. However, researchers found that “no state spends less on instruction per pupil” than Idaho.

“Many children and their families in rural America need better and more equitable educational opportunities,” the report concluded. “The pressure is rising for policymakers to address rural education issues at the state and federal levels.”

Here are a few other key report findings:

  • Only five states have lower instructional salaries than Idaho.
  • Idaho’s educational outcomes are at or below national medians, with fourth grade an area of highest concern.
  • Minority students comprise more than a fifth of Idaho’s rural students in Idaho population.
  • Only nine states educate a higher percentage of rural English language learners (ELL) students.
  • Idaho’s rural student mobility rate is 10th highest in the nation.

The report’s findings were presented during a panel discussion at the recent Education Writers Association seminar in Washington, D.C. Idaho Education News managing editor Jennifer Swindell moderated the panel.

In the 2017 People’s Perspective, a public opinion poll conducted by Idaho Education News, 48 percent of rural respondents said they would recommend their school district, compared to 60 percent of suburban respondents.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News and the People’s Perspective poll are funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.

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