School costs are gradually shifting to local districts, and declining state commitment and the sagging economy are to blame, according to the National Education Association's "Estimates of School Statistics 1992-93.'
Also, teacher salary disparities among the states have widened over the last decade with the highest average salaries now more than double the lowest, the group said Thursday.
The shift in school expenditures to local districts is slight - rising from 45 to 46 percent over the last 10 years. Still, said NEA's Bob Chase, "we're concerned about that because if the percentage increase has to be picked up at the local level, where taxes are usually based on the value of property, then the disparity between school districts within states has a tendency to become larger."
Part of the problem, he said, is that states are being forced to spend more in other areas - particularly Medicaid - with dwindling tax receipts.
Mr. Chase said the economy and declining commitment also are to blame for wider disparities in teacher salaries. The gap has grown from $19,663 in the 1982-83 school year to more than $24,725 this year. The nation's highest paid teachers, in Connecticut, earn an average $48,850 annually; while the lowest paid, in South Dakota, make an average $24,125.