TAMPA, Fla. -- Florida spends about $8,800 for each of 2.7 million students enrolled in public schools, ranking the Sunshine State among the lowest in the country, according to researchers.

  • Florida came in 42nd in the U.S.
  • Utah came in last, New York came in first
  • Oklahoma (48th), Arizona (49th) saw teachers walk off job

TheStacker.Com found that out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Florida came in 42nd on the amount of money it spends per student. Oklahoma and Arizona, which saw teachers walk off the job in a protest over low pay and education funding recently, ranked 48th and 49th, respectively.

Utah came in dead last at 51st. New York was number one.

"(Florida) is a great state to live in," said Sally Harris, board chair for Hillsborough County Public Schools. "To be that low, it's embarrassing."

State lawmakers approved an $88 billion education budget this year, but critics claim it doesn't adequately fund new mandates or basic educational needs.  Harris says HCPS, which has a $2.8 billion budget and 212,000 students, is doing all it can.

"We're trying to do everything to live within our means of what we have coming in, handling those unfunded mandates and still maintaining a high level of education," she said.

Linda Kearschner, president-elect for the Florida Parent Teachers Association, says the organization has lobbied for more school funding for years.

"Having adequate funding to provide a high quality education to all children is imperative," Kearschner said. "It's our responsibility for every child to help them reach their full potential, and in doing so we help our state."

Florida PTA members plan to attend committee meetings for the next legislative session, and hopes to host a round table discussion for gubernatorial candidates to discuss education.