CSG Midwest
K-12 education consistently makes up the largest share of state general fund spending each year, hovering between 34 percent and 36 percent since 1996, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. In fiscal year 2015, more than $260 billion went to elementary and secondary education. Although no two states distribute education dollars exactly the same way, the vast majority of funding formulas are built around a “foundation” or “base” amount of funding that is the minimum each student receives. 
State formulas then further adjust per-pupil funding depending on the type of student (for example, special needs, English-language learner, low-income) and the wealth of the school district. The systems that work best are based on research — specifically, tying the amount that flows to each school to the cost of providing an education that meets the state’s academic standards, says Michael Griffith, a school finance strategist with the Education Commission of the States. 
North Dakota, for example, used an evidence-based approach developed by an outside consulting firm as it made multiple improvements to K-12 funding over the past decade. The firm was hired in 2008 to make recommendations on an “adequate funding level,” or how much the state should spend per student based on the state’s curriculum standards.
CSG South

This SLC Regional Resource examines the strategies taken by Southern states to increase school options for special education students through the implementation of state-funded school voucher programs, focusing on their many forms and variations, and addresses school voucher programs that provide direct payments or reimbursements to private alternative schools or parents and legal guardians, respectively.

CSG Midwest
The state with the lowest average teacher pay in the nation has a new plan to boost yearly salaries by $8,000. South Dakota’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students released its final recommendations in November. Led by legislators, the task force included participation by teachers, school administrators, and state fiscal and education leaders.
A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) revealed that education is still feeling the economic sting of the recession. State budgets reflect per pupil expenditures in 35 states are lower than in 2007-2008 when adjusted for inflation, and 14 states have effectively cut funding per student by over 10 percent in the last six years. 

During the recession many states had to make hard decisions regarding higher education funding and tuition at public universities. According to the 2013-2014 Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West report by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the enrollment-weighted average tuition and fees for residents and non-residents was higher for four-year institutions over previous years; while lower at two-year institutions.

The Odyssey School in Denver is a unique school with a common problem—like many schools across the country, the school’s funding level has dropped. Odyssey, a charter school that has 225 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, focuses on project-based learning, which often takes classes outside of the school building. Students are just as likely to be taking water samples from a local river as they are to be sitting at tables discussing the pros and cons of randomized drug trial statistics in math class.

Following three rounds of Race to the Top grants awarded to more than 20 states, the U.S. Department of Education is poised to award an additional $400 million in the next round of RTTT funding. This time, however, the money is being earmarked to local schools districts, not states.  The US DOE has announced it will award 15-25 grants to support school districts in implementing local education reforms that personalize instruction, close achievement gaps, and take advantage of 21st century tools that prepare each student for college and careers. 

On Monday, President Barack Obama officially unveiled his budget for 2013.  As he spoke from Northern Virginia Community College, Obama highlighted the more than $65 billion in education funding focused on resources dedicated to transforming K-12 and postsecondary education to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.

Legislatures and governors recently have given increased attention to school district consolidation. Facing mounting budget shortfalls and searching desperately for avenues to cut spending, some state leaders have examined possible savings by forcing smaller districts to close. The number of school districts varies widely from state to state. Hawaii, for instance, has a single statewide school system. At the opposite extreme, 14 states have more than 300 public school districts. Legislatures in many states are considering whether merging smaller school districts would be a cost-effective way to cut costly overhead expenses and improve academic services. In many areas, however, there is fierce resistance to consolidation from parents who prefer small, community-based school systems.

Although they were not funded at the level they initially requested, seven states learned in late December that they will receive a $200 million 'runners-up' award.  Many of the reforms which now can be initiated include implementation efforts for the Common Core State Standards, improving data systems, advancing teacher effectiveness, technology supports, and STEM integration.  Those states include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.