Which Florida School Districts Fund Student Education Most Equally? Which School Districts Fund it the Least Fairly?

L. Cane

There's arguably little question that school funding impacts student learning. Data showed that students in poorer neighborhoods with less student funding suffered more "learning loss" during the pandemic. And schools that invest more in their students can have higher academic achievement from their students. Unfortunately, not all school districts invest in all schools evenly and equitably.

Determining Which States Invest In Students More Equitably: The website WalletHub wanted to find out which states funded schools most fairly, so it looked at metrics like the average household income and expenditures per pupil for elementary and secondary schools. Using that data, it assigned each state an average equitability score.

How Did Florida Fare?: Florida did well in this study, coming in at number 7 overall and spending over $10,000 per student in some counties. Iowa, Arkansas, and North Carolina came in 1-3rd in this study, while Montana, California, and New York took the last three spots.

Florida's Most and Least Equitably Funded Counties: In its analysis, WalletHub noted which Florida counties were the least and most fairly funded amongst students. It also identified the amount spent on each student (the first amount on the list) and the average income for the district (the second number amount listed.) Here is that list. Districts are listed from highest ranking to lowest:

1 Polk : $10,435, $51,535

2 Duval: $9,258, $56,769

3 Liberty: $12,482, $39,121

4 Brevard: $9,136, $59,359

5 Lafayette: $10,016, $51,734

6 Flagler $8,895, $57,536

7 Leon: $9,430, $.54,675

8 St. Lucie: $10,002, $55,237

9 Lake: $9,190, $55,792

10 Gadsden: $11,878, $41,135

11 Charlotte: $10,619, $52,724

12 Alachua: $10,094, $50,089

13 Jefferson: $10,219, $49,081

14 Miami-Dade: $10,524, $53,975

15 Union: $8,977, $55,139

16 Lee: $9,527, $59,608

17 Osceola: $8,872, $55,538

18 Pinellas: $10,164, $56,419

19 Escambia: $9,326, $53,023

20 Baker: $9,059, $62,299

21 Hillsborough: $9,438, $60,566

22 Indian River: $9,951, $57,945

23 Gilchrist: $10,278,$47,381

24 Bay: $10,426, $56,483

25 Pasco: $8,896, $53,431

26 Bradford: $10,704, $43,580

27 Volusia: $8,973, $52,407

28 Okaloosa: $9,180, $64,373

29 Sumter: $10,215, $59,618

30 Broward: $9,968, $60,922

31 Glades: $11,041, $39,709

32 Hernando: $9,002, $50,280

33 Manatee: $10,374, $59,963

34 Wakulla: $8,976, $67,480

35 Marion: $9,611, $46,587

36 Clay: $8,805, $68,657

37 Hamilton: $11,138, $38,300

38 Dixie: $10,409, $41,674

39 Seminole: $8,661, $70,297

40 Citrus: $9,587, $45,689

41 Calhoun: $10,932, $38,037

42 Orange: $10,486, $61,416

43 Suwannee: $9,307, $46,280

44 Highlands: $9,727, $43,708

45 Franklin: $13,064, $48,814

46 Jackson: $10,204, $40,754

47 Santa Rosa: $8,952, $70,663

48 Okeechobee: $9,108, $46,097

49 Putnam: $10,170, $40,068

50 Columbia: $9,204, $44,818

51 Holmes: $10,078, $39,215

52 Taylor: $10,125, $38,295

53 Washington: $10,252, $37,260

54 Walton: $10,172, $67,390

55 Nassau: $9,193, $72,998

56 Levy: $9,788, $38,951

57 Hardee: $9,484, $40,165

58 Martin: $10,674, $65,821

59 Desoto: $10,154, $36,360

60 Palm Beach: $11,035, $65,015

61 Madison: $9,704,$35,240

62 Gulf : $14,377, $50,640

63 Sarasota $11,778, $64,644

64 Hendry: $9,016, $36,978

65 St. Johns: $8,780, $83,803

66 Collier: $11,711, $70,217

67 Monroe: $13,706, $72,012

Additional Studies Regarding Fairness in Funding Students' Florida Education: WalletHub is one source of data. But for objectivity, one can look at other opinions. Some studies, such as Education Week’s Quality Counts report from 2020 indicated that Florida doesn't rank well for education expenditures per student. That report noted that Florida ranked 45th in funding per student. However, the WalletHub article is about the fairness of the funds, not how much funds are allocated.

So, to compare similar data, in 2015, the Education Law Center, a nonprofit organization that aims to "improve school funding equity and secure essential resources for all students" released a report entitled "Is School Funding Fair?." In this publication, the organization gave Florida a C grade for educational state funding distribution.

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