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Dan Forest lauds state education funding in Onslow County, which ranks 110 of out 115 in state spending on schools

“We are sixth in the nation for state funding for education.” That’s what Lt. Gov. Dan Forest told a gathering of local Republicans on Friday. It’s not the first time Forest has made this debunked claim, but what’s really out of touch is where he said it.

Forest lauded state education spending while speaking in Onslow County, a county that is falling behind in statewide per pupil spending. 

Over the past four years, Onslow County has consistently received less money than the average from the state per pupil. In the 2015-2016 school year, the average per pupil state spending was $5724.21, but Onslow County Schools only received $5,247.34. During this same year, Onslow County ranked 110th out of 115 NC Local Education Agencies, or LEAs, in state funding per pupil. 

Per Pupil Expenditures

School Year

Onslow Spending

State Spending in Onslow

Avg. State Spending

2015-16

5,247.34

5,247.34

5,724.21

2014-15

5,247.34

5,249.80

5,638.39

2013-14

2,258.99

5,025.95

5,390.12

2012-13

1,984.17

4,961.27

5,399.64

(NC Public Schools, per pupil expenditures, child nutrition included, 2012-2016)

Due to this discrepancy, Onslow County has had to spend more money per pupil locally. In the 2015-2016 school year, Onslow County spent $5,247.34 per pupil locally, while the state average was only $2,157.

Onslow County is being compelled to spend more money on schools at the local level, while the percentage of economically disadvantaged students in Onslow County Schools continues to increase. Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of economically disadvantaged in Onslow County Schools has increased by almost three percent.

Percent Economically Disadvantaged Students

 

2015-16

2014-15

2013-14

2012-13

% Change

Onslow County Schools

47.19%

46.25%

47.33%

44.64%

2.55%

Statewide

52.48%

52.83%

57.56%

56.14%

-3.66%

(NC Public Schools, Data and Reports, 2012-2016)

Onslow County could use more help from the state and less happy talk from Dan Forest. Despite Forest’s “stats,” North Carolina’s overall investment in public schools is falling. Research conducted by the National Education Association finds that North Carolina ranks 43rd in per student funding, and education spending per student actually decreased from 2016 to 2017.