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U.S. Data: New Yorkers spend the most on public school children

By By PAT BAILEY

NEW YORK STATE - New York taxpayers are at the top of one list most wish they weren't. They pay the most, per child, in the public school system, according to the US Census. However, those high costs don't necessarily mean a high graduation rate.

As the state legislature continues to fight with Governor Paterson over state aid funding, new US Census data shows that New York taxpayers spend $17,173 per child in the state public school system - more than any of the 50 states.

The national average cost per pupil is at $10,200, while the lowest cost is in the state of Utah, which spends just $5,765 per child.

On the local level, the largest school districts in each of the three counties in the Mohawk Valley all spend less per child than the state average.

In Herkimer County, Ilion spends $13,464 per child; in Otsego County, Oneonta spends $16,642 per child; and in Oneida County, Utica spends $14,145 per child.

Executive Director of the New York State School Board Association Tim Kremer says the state numbers don't tell the whole story. Kremer says there are two types of economic conditions in New York State, upstate and downstate.

There are roughly three million students in the state's public education system with one million coming from New York City alone, Kremer said.

"Expenditures, per pupil, paid downstate are far higher than those paid upstate," Kremer said. "It is the downstate numbers that are driving the figures that make us number one."

Despite the high costs, per child, in the state, New York students fall below the averages in graduation rates. According to a three year study by the U.S. Department of Education, New York graduates 83% of their students, one percent lower than the national average and seven percent lower than Utah, who spends the least amount per child.

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