The state's 10 highest-spending counties spent an average of $59,280 more per classroom than the lowest-spending counties in 2011-12 according to a Public School Forum study released Monday.
Disparities have persisted over the years. The gap between the highest and lowest-spending counties is $2,280 per child, according to the Raleigh education think tank.
The top county, Orange, spent more local money per student than the bottom seven counties combined, according to the report.
Three streams of public money – state, federal, and local – feed public schools. Wealthy counties are able to spend more on schools because property is worth more and they’re able to raise more through taxes.
The state picked up 62 percent of total public education costs in 2011-12, counties paid 24 percent, and the federal government paid 14 percent.
The Public School Forum has been tracking county support for pubic schools for 25 years.
The state provides special financial supplements for low-wealth and small school districts, but the local spending makes a difference in the education students receive, said Gene Arnold, Public School Forum board chairman.
“Counties with fewer resources struggle to update classrooms with relevant technology and have a difficult time recruiting and retaining the best teachers,” he said in a statement.