Public schools are facing massive enrollment declines, with at least 19 states losing 3% or more of their students compared to pre-pandemic levels. New York’s 5.9% plunge is the biggest, and California isn’t too far behind at 4.4%. Because K-12 education funding is tied to student counts in most states, this trend will have major policy implications.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, public education spending was at record levels, averaging $15,656 per pupil in the 2018-19 school year and exceeding $20,000 per pupil in states such as New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Education funding plummeted during the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009, but most states had replenished or exceeded their previous inflation-adjusted