(The Center Square) – South Carolina spends $14,310 per student in its K-12 public schools, an inflation-adjusted increase of 19% since 2002, according to a new study from the Reason Foundation.
While the average state increased its spending by $3,211 per student, or 25%, South Carolina students saw the 19% increase while the state’s population grew by 12% over that span. The U.S. average is $16,062 in spending per student.
Every state showed increased per-pupil spending on benefits between 2002 and 2020, with 14 states growing by 100% over that time. South Carolina’s benefit spending went up $2,772, or 52%.
The United States’ average inflation-adjusted spending increase on benefits over that time was $3,406, or 79%. The largest increases came in Hawaii, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and New York while the lowest increases were in Wisconsin, Idaho, West Virginia, Florida and Indiana.
“Research suggests that teacher pension costs are responsible for a substantial share of the observed growth in benefit expenditures,” the report said.
South Carolina’s instructional staff salary spending went down between 2002 and 2020, adjusted for inflation, from $4,406 per student to $4,157 per student.
The report also showed that South Carolina schools had $5.3 billion in long-term debt in 2002 compared to $9.7 billion in 2020. That debt reached its highest point at more than $15 billion in 2016.