Montana Public Radio

Report Details State Education Spending, Outcomes

Mar 17, 2020

Even as Montana's public K-12 schools sit closed over coronavirus concerns, work on the school system continues. Newly released data from the state of Montana provides a picture of just how much it costs to educate the state's students.

Released this week, the state's "report card" shows it cost an average of $10,474.64 to educate each student in the public school system last year. The actual cost varies depending on districts or schools.

Schools and districts are also required to annually publish their own student-achievement report cards, and per-pupil cost breakdowns are included. Dylan Klapmeier, director of communications and federal relations at the Montana Office of Public Instruction, explained why.

“The purpose of the report cards overall is transparency," he said.

Excerpt from Montana's ESSA report card for 2018-2019. On average, Montana spends just over $10,000 per public school student.
Credit Data from Montana Office of Public Instruction

The report cards are required under the Obama administration’s 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, a massive federal education law that replaced the Bush Jr. era’s No Child Left Behind. The 2018-2019 school year data gave the public it’s first multi-level, detailed look at the cost per-student in Montana.

Klapmeier recognized the report cards came out at a challenging time for parents and schools.

“We want school leaders and families to be focused on their health and safety right now," he said.

"But at the end of the day, when we come through this and school doors open back up, we do hope that families and communities will look at these report cards, and use it as a way to engage in community conversation around education. ”

There are more than 147,00 students enrolled in Montana’s K-12 public schools.