A recent national study revealed that the state spends less on its K-12 students than the national average.
The study, conducted by the National Education Association, found that North Carolina spends $8,433 per K-12 student, compared to the national average of $11,068.
And, according to data from the N.C. General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division, the state spends less on its K-12 students than it does on university students.
According to the division, North Carolina spends $13,496 on each full-time in-state UNC-system student.
Some of the higher university spending can be attributed to the costs of attracting and retaining faculty, said Jenna Ashley Robinson, director of outreach for the Pope Center for Higher Education, which advocates for efficiency in education.
“Most of (the instruction cost at universities) goes to faculty salaries,” she said. “Part of that is attracting star faculty.”
But Alexis Schauss, director of school business at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, said compensation for teachers on the K-12 level is a cause for concern.
“This is not really about teacher pay,” she said. “This is about being able to get qualified individuals in the classroom. You are going to lose them if you don’t pay them.”
The National Education Association study ranked North Carolina 46th in average teacher salaries for the 2011-12 school year, with an average salary of $45,947.