SALEM — Oregon’s per-student spending fell to 6% below the national average in the 2018-2019 school year, newly released figures show.

That put Oregon, which used to outspend both the nation and neighboring Washington when it came to educating school children, well behind both, as Washington devoted 8% more per student that year than the national average for public schools.

The figures pegged Oregon’s per-student spending at $12,450, the U.S. average at $13,187 and Washington’s at $14,223. They were compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and released last week.

Oregon’s gap grew from the previous school year, when it trailed the national average by 4%.

A past in-depth analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive found that Oregon’s relatively low per-student funding when the cost of living is taken into account helps explain the state’s poor outcomes including its abysmal high school graduation rate.

Spending patterns in Oregon and other states may have diverged significantly since 2018-19. But no nationally comparable figures are yet available.

Oregon state senators voted overwhelmingly this week to approve $9.3 billion for the school fund that will be the leading source of money for the state’s nearly 197 school districts in the coming two school years. That figure is $300 million more than state budget analysts say is needed to continue current school programs and services, when pay and benefit increases and other inflationary costs are taken into effect.

But that may not be nearly enough to catch up with national averages. The census bureau noted that per-student spending increased 5% from 2017-18 to 2018-19 alone.

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