Let's Not Get Carried Away On Education Spending


For the first time in generations, North Dakota has a growing population. A booming population, in the western part of the state, and that means local officials are demanding more money for education.

Some of the needs are real, though some are exaggerated. Case in point, after going into full-on alarmist mode about growing enrollment, public schools in Williston didn’t see nearly the increase they projected. In fact, Williston’s projected enrollment was off by 80%.

Still, though, school districts around the state are clamoring for more money. But those demands should be tempered by the fact that, even when enrollment in public schools in the state was in decline, the legislature was more than generous with funds.

Via Legislative Council, here’s the trend line for K-12 enrollment state wide, showing a decline ending after the 2007-2008 school year:


And here’s the trend for state appropriations for K-12 education, showing an average biennial increase in total funds of more than 21%:


Perhaps the funding build-up we accumulated when enrollment was declining can be used to defray the expense of growing enrollment now. That would make sense.

Of course, if we should know anything about sacred cows in government like education, spending goes up whether need is up or down.