W.Va. Education Officials Dispute Spending Totals

Apr 18, 2016

A report released Monday by NPR tracks the amount of money spent on each student across the country by county. But representatives of the West Virginia Department of Education say the data reported doesn’t add up in West Virginia.

NPR and the national publication Education Week attribute their spending numbers to the U.S. Census Bureau. Their map says in West Virginia, McDowell County spent the most at $14,000 per student in 2013. Jefferson County, according to the map, spent the least per pupil at around $8,000.

But Amy Willard, Executive Director of School Finance for the West Virginia Department of Education, says the numbers don’t match state spending records.

“The numbers that are reflected in this story do not agree to the data that we have," she explained, "It says in the story that the data is adjusted for regional cost differences, and it appears there have been additional adjustments made, and we cannot speak as to what those adjustments are.”

Willard says the state Department of Education’s data shows Jefferson County spending over $11,000 per student in 2013, with Hardy County spending the least amount per pupil at $9,700.

County Boards of Education Per Pupil Expenditures for the 2012-2013 Year:

In both cases however, NPR’s data and the state Department of Education show McDowell County spending the most on its students. Willard says this in part has to do with the county receiving a considerable amount of federal funding to spend on education.

“Presumably due to the economic conditions in that county, they are receiving a higher amount of federal funding, which is driving up their overall per pupil expenditures. That appears to be the main reason for the higher expenditures in that county.”

According to the state Department of Education, Doddridge County is the only other county to spend over $14,000 on an individual student per year.