Disparities in school spending have been a point of contention in the American public education system for decades. Because public schools typically receive the bulk of their funding from local sources such as property taxes, wealthy districts are often better funded than poorer ones.
While studies have shown that higher per pupil spending can improve student outcomes, there are countless other factors – both inside the classroom and outside of it – that can impact a student’s likelihood of success. One of them is financial security at home.
For students from low-income families, setbacks can be more difficult to recover from due to limited supporting resources. A recent report published by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce found that children from low-income households who receive high scores on standardized aptitude tests in kindergarten have only a 3 in 10 chance of graduating from college and landing a good entry-level job as a young adult. Meanwhile, children from well-off families who score poorly on the same tests have a 7 in 10 chance.
This study suggests that even if per-pupil spending were equal across the thousands of school districts in the United States, students in high-income areas would still have a considerable advantage.
Of active districts in Missouri with at least 100 students, Ladue – located in St. Louis County – ranks as the wealthiest. Households in the district have an average annual income of $213,970, compared to the statewide average of $78,194, according to five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
Due in part to the strong local tax base, education spending in the district is higher than the state average. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, per pupil spending in the district was $14,289 in the 2018-2019 school year, the most recent year of available data, compared to an average of $11,349 across all schools in Missouri.
Wealthiest school districtAvg. household income in district ($)Avg. household income in state ($)Alabama: Mountain Brook City$238,595$71,964Alaska: Cordova City School District$112,521$98,811Arizona: Cave Creek Unified District$162,758$84,380Arkansas: Valley View School District$124,059$69,357California: Hillsborough City Elementary$437,655$111,622Colorado: Elbert School District No. 200$97,038$100,933Connecticut: Darien School District$365,528$115,337Delaware: Appoquinimink School District$125,597$92,308Florida: St. Johns$113,475$83,104Georgia: Forsyth County$128,476$85,691Hawaii: N/AN/A$107,348Idaho: Mccall-Donnelly Joint School District$90,524$77,399Illinois: Winnetka School District No. 36$371,021$95,115Indiana: Zionsville Community Schools$174,109$76,984Iowa: Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community School District$115,226$80,316Kansas: Spring Hill$121,345$82,103Kentucky: Oldham County$128,725$72,318Louisiana: N/AN/A$73,759Maine: Falmouth Public Schools$170,467$78,301Maryland: Montgomery County Public Schools$149,437$114,236Massachusetts: Dover$373,970$115,964Michigan: Bloomfield Hills Schools$202,722$80,803Minnesota: Orono Public School District$211,325$96,814Mississippi: Madison County School District$112,066$65,156Missouri: Ladue$213,970$78,194Montana: Blue Creek Elem$114,007$76,834Nebraska: Elkhorn Public Schools$142,333$82,306Nevada: Storey County School District$92,393$84,350New Hampshire: Rye School District$198,028$101,292New Jersey: Rumson Borough School District$345,342$117,868New Mexico: Los Alamos Public Schools$141,162$70,241New York: Scarsdale Union Free School District$466,343$105,304North Carolina: Wake County Schools$106,822$79,620North Dakota: South Heart School District No. 9$114,918$85,506Ohio: Orange City$243,210$78,797Oklahoma: Deer Creek$140,124$74,195Oregon: West Linn-Wilsonville School District$132,574$88,137Pennsylvania: Lower Merion School District$218,005$87,262Rhode Island: Barrington$177,659$92,427South Carolina: Lexington School District No. 5$96,105$76,390South Dakota: Harrisburg School District 41-2$118,082$77,932Tennessee: Collierville$143,456$76,937Texas: Friendswood Independent School District$167,090$89,506Utah: Canyons District$114,020$94,452Vermont: Norwich School District$155,346$83,767Virginia: Falls Church City Public Schools$181,261$106,023Washington: Lake Washington School District$170,160$103,669West Virginia: Jefferson County Schools$96,911$65,332Wisconsin: Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District$240,795$82,757Wyoming: Laramie County School District #2$98,751$83,583