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Public School Finance Data

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Definitions

Major categories for the U.S. Census Bureau's classification of government finances, as applicable to school systems, are defined below.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

C
  • Capital Outlay – Direct expenditure for construction of buildings, roads, and other improvements undertaken either on a contractual basis by private contractors or through a government’s own staff (i.e., force account); for purchases of equipment, land, and existing structures; and for payments on capital leases. Includes amounts for additions, replacements, and major alterations to fixed works and structures. However, expenditure for maintenance and repairs to such works and structures is classified as current spending.
  • Cash and Deposits – Cash on hand and on deposit, including any savings and other time deposits, as well as demand deposits.
  • Cash and Security Holdings – Cash, deposits, and government and private securities (bonds, notes, stocks, mortgages, etc.) except holdings of agency and private trust funds. Does not include interfund loans, receivables, and the value of real property and other fixed assets.
  • Construction – Production of fixed works and structures and additions, replacements, and major alterations thereto, including planning and design of specific projects, site improvements, and provision of equipment and facilities that are integral parts of a structure. Includes both construction undertaken either on a contractual basis by private contractors or through a government’s own staff (i.e., force account).
  • Contributions from Parent Government – Tax receipts and other amounts appropriated by a parent government and transferred to its dependent school system. Excludes intergovernmental revenue, current charges, and miscellaneous general revenue.
  • Current Charges – Amounts received from the public for performance of specific services benefitting the person charged and from sales of commodities and services. Includes school lunch sales (gross), tuition paid by individuals, revenue from the sale and rental of textbooks, transportation fees, and receipts from centrally administered student activity funds. Excludes amounts received from other governments and interfund transfers.
  • Current Operation – Direct expenditure for salaries, employee benefits, purchased professional and technical services, purchased property and other services, and supplies. It includes gross school system expenditure for instruction, support services, and noninstructional functions. It excludes expenditure for debt service, capital outlay, and reimbursement to other governments (including other school systems). Also excluded are payments made on behalf of the school system by other governments including employee retirement payments made by state governments to state retirement funds and to social security. Employer contributions made by those few school systems that have their own retirement systems (such as the Chicago Board of Education and the Denver Public School System) into their own retirement funds are excluded. Current operation expenditure is a standard classification item used in all Census Bureau government finance reports.
  • Current Spending – Comprises current operation expenditure (as defined above), payments made by the state government on behalf of school systems, and transfers made by school systems into their own retirement funds. This classification is used only in Census Bureau education reports in an effort to provide statistics for users who wish to make interstate comparisons. It is not used in other government finance reports to avoid double–counting expenditure between levels of government and funds. While expenditure made by the state government on behalf of the school systems is available on a state aggregate basis, it is frequently not available for each school system in given states. Therefore, these payments are included under current spending in the tables which display state totals and are often estimated for the local school systems to be included in the tables which display individual school units. Appendix B identifies this anomaly on a state–by–state basis.

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D

  • Debt – Short and long–term credit obligations of a school system or that portion of a parent government’s credit obligations devoted to a dependent system. Excludes noninterest–bearing short–term obligations, interfund obligations, amounts owed in a trust or agency capacity, leases, advances, and contingent loans from other governments, and rights of individuals to benefits from school system employee–retirement funds.
  • Debt Outstanding at the End of Fiscal Year – All debt obligations remaining unpaid at the end of the fiscal year.

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E

  • Elementary–Secondary Education – Prekindergarten through 12th grade regular, special, and vocational education, as well as cocurricular, community service, and adult education programs provided by a public school system. The financial activities of these systems for all instruction, support service, and noninstructional activities are included in this category.
  • Employee Benefit Expenditure – Amounts paid by the school system for fringe benefits. These amounts are not included in salaries and wages paid directly to employees. Includes contributions on behalf of employees for retirement coverage, social security, group health and life insurance, tuition reimbursement, worker's compensation, and unemployment compensation.
  • Enrollment – Count of pupils on pupil rolls in the fall of the school system's fiscal year for which data are shown.
  • Equipment – Apparatus, furnishings, motor vehicles, office machines, and the like having an expected life of more than five years. Equipment expenditure consists only of amounts for purchase of equipment, including both additional equipment and replacements. Expenditure for facilities that are integral parts of structures is classified as expenditure for construction or for purchase of land and existing structures.
  • Expenditure – All amounts of money paid out by a school system – net of recoveries and other correcting transactions – other than for retirement of debt, purchase of securities, extension of loans, and agency transactions. Note that expenditure includes only external transactions of a school system and excludes noncash transactions, such as the provision of perquisites or other payments in–kind.

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F

  • Federal Aid – Direct – Aid from project grants for programs such as Impact Aid, Indian Education, Head Start, Follow Through, Magnet Schools, Dropout Demonstration Assistance, and Gifted and Talented.

    Impact Aid – Revenue authorized to assist in the construction (P.L. 81–815) and operation (P.L. 81–874) of schools in areas affected by federal activities.

  • Federal Aid Distributed by State Governments – Aid from formula grants distributed through state government agencies. Includes revenue from such programs as:

    Child Nutrition Programs – Payments by the Department of Agriculture for the National School Lunch, Special Milk, School Breakfast, and Ala Carte programs. Excludes the value of donated commodities.

    Compensatory (Title I) Programs – Revenue authorized by Title I of the Elementary–Secondary Education Act (PL 102–382). Includes basic, concentration, and migratory education grants.

    Special Education Programs – Revenue awarded under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (PL 105–17). Includes formula grants authorized in Part B of this legislation but excludes project grants authorized in Part D. Revenue from this excluded project grant is included in Federal Aid – Direct.

    Vocational Programs – Revenue from the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act. Includes revenue from Title II (Basic Grants) and Title III–E (Tech–Prep Education).

    Other Federal Aid Distributed by the State – Includes revenue from other formula grant programs distributed through state governments, such as the Adult Education Act (Part B), Title V, Part A grants sanctioned by the Elementary–Secondary Education Act, Drug Free Schools authorized by Title IV–A of the Elementary–Secondary Education Act, and Mathematics, Science, and Teacher Quality (Title II–A and Title II–B of the Elementary–Secondary Education Act).

    Nonspecified Federal Aid Distributed by the State – Federal revenue amounts that pertain to more than one of the above categories but which reporting units could not provide distinct amounts into these categories. This revenue is included in "nonspecified" instead of "other."

  • Fiscal Year – The 12–month period at the end of which the school district determines its financial condition and the results of its operations and closes its books.
  • Fixed Charges – Charges of a generally recurrent nature which are not readily allocable to another function. Such charges include employee benefits, retirement and insurance programs, and worker’s compensation.

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I

  • Instruction Expenditure – Relates to the instruction function (Function 1000) defined in "Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems," National Center for Education Statistics, 2009. Instruction presented under the current operation or current spending headings includes payments from all funds for salaries, employee benefits (paid by school system only if under current operation or paid by both school and state if under "current spending"), supplies, materials, and contractual services. It excludes capital outlay, debt service, and interfund transfers. Instruction covers regular, special, and vocational programs offered in both the regular school year and summer school. It excludes instructional, student, and other support activities, as well as adult education, community services, and student enterprise activities.
  • Instructional Equipment – Expenditure for all equipment recorded by school systems in general or operating funds under the "instruction" function.
  • Interest Earnings – Interest earned on deposits and securities including amounts for accrued interest on investment securities sold. However, receipts for accrued interest on bonds issued are classified as offsets to interest expenditure. Note that interest earnings shown under elementary–secondary revenue do not include earnings on assets of employee–retirement systems.
  • Interest Expenditure – Amounts paid for use of borrowed money.

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L

  • Long–Term Debt – Debt payable more than one year after date of issue.
  • Long–Term Debt Issued – The par value of long–term debt obligations incurred during the fiscal period concerned, including funding and refunding obligations. Debt obligations authorized but not actually incurred during the fiscal period are not included.
  • Long–Term Debt Retired – The par value of long–term debt obligations liquidated by repayment or exchange, including debt retired by refunding operations.

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N

  • Nonelementary–Secondary Programs – Comprises expenditure by a school district for the operation of community services (e.g., swimming pools, public libraries, programs for the elderly, and child care centers; adult education classes; and other activities not related to elementary–secondary education, such as community college programs.

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O

  • Other Current Spending – Current spending for other than elementary-secondary education instruction and support services activities. Included in this category are food services, enterprise operations, community services, and adult education expenditure.

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P

  • Payments to Other Governments –Payments made to states, counties, cities, and special district school housing authorities including repayment of loans and debt service payments to entities that incur debt instead of the school system. Payments to Other School Systems is included in this category in the tables that display individual school systems but excluded (to avoid double-counting) in the state aggregate tables. Include the operation and maintenance of parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, public beaches, auditoriums, public golf courses, museums, marinas, botanical gardens, and zoological parks.
  • Payments to Other School Systems – Payments to in-state and out-of-state public school systems for tuition, transportation, data processing, or other purchased services. These amounts are excluded from state aggregate tables but included in "Payments to Other Governments" in the individual unit tables.
  • Property Taxes – Taxes conditioned on ownership of property and measured by its value. Includes general property taxes relating to property as a whole, taxed at a single rate or at classified rates according to the class of property. Property refers to real property (e.g., land and structures), as well as personal property. Personal property can be either tangible (e.g., automobiles and boats) or intangible (e.g., bank accounts and stocks and bonds).
  • Public School Systems – Includes independent school district governments and dependent school systems. Independent school district governments are organized local entities providing public elementary, secondary, special, and vocational–technical education, which, under the law, have sufficient administrative and fiscal autonomy to qualify as governments. Dependent school systems lack sufficient autonomy to be counted as separate governments and are classified as dependent agencies of some other government – a county, municipality, township, or state government.
  • Purchase of Land and Existing Structures – Expenditure for the acquisition of land and existing buildings including purchases of rights–of–way, payments on capital leases, title searches, and similar activities associated with real property purchase transactions.

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R

  • Revenue – All amounts of money received by a school system from external sources – net of refunds and other correcting transactions – other than from issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, or as agency and private trust transactions. Note that revenue excludes noncash transactions, such as receipt of services, commodities, or other "receipts in–kind."

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S

  • Salaries and Wages – Amounts paid for compensation of school system officers and employees. Consists of gross compensation before deductions for withheld taxes, retirement contributions, or other purposes.
  • School Lunch Charges – Gross collections from cafeteria sales to children and adults.
  • Short–Term Debt – Interest–bearing debt payable within one year from date of issue, such as bond anticipation notes, bank loans, and tax anticipation notes and warrants. Includes obligations having no fixed maturity date if payable from a tax levied for collection in the year of their issuance.
  • State Aid – State revenue paid to the school system for any purpose, restricted or unrestricted, including the following:

    Capital Outlay/Debt Service – Revenue paid for school construction and building aid including amounts to help the school systems pay for servicing debt.

    Compensatory Programs – Revenue for at "risk" or other economically disadvantaged students including migratory children. Also includes monies from state programs directed toward the attainment of basic skills and categorical education excellence and quality education programs that provide more than staff enhancements – such as materials, resource centers, and equipment.

    General Formula Assistance – Revenue from general noncategorical state assistance programs such as foundation, minimum or basic formula support, apportionment, equalization, flat or block grants, and state public school fund distributions. This category also includes revenue dedicated from major state taxes, such as income and sales taxes.

    Payments on Behalf of Local Education Agency (LEA) – State payments that benefit school systems but are not paid directly to school systems. Includes amounts transferred into state teacher or public employee retirement funds, as well as into funds for other kinds of employee benefits, such as group health, life, and unemployment compensation. This category also includes state payments for textbooks, school buses, and telecommunications that are provided to public school systems.

    Special Education Programs – Revenue for the education of physically and mentally handicapped students.

    Staff Improvement Programs – Revenue for programs designed to improve the quantity and quality of school system staff. Examples include programs for additional teacher units, teacher benefits such as retirement and social security contributions paid directly to the school system, mentor teachers, teacher induction, staff development contracts and stipends, career ladder contracts, in-service training, health insurance, principal leadership, teacher quality contracts, and salaries for specific types of instructional and support staff.

    Transportation Programs – Payments for various state transportation aid programs, such as those that compensate the school system for part of its transportation expense and those that provide reimbursement for transportation salaries or school bus purchase.

    Vocational Programs – Revenue for state vocational education assistance programs including career education programs.

    Other State Aid – All other state revenue that is paid directly to the school systems including funds for bilingual education, gifted and talented programs, food services, debt services, instructional materials, textbooks, computer equipment, library resources, guidance and psychological services, driver education, energy conservation, enrollment increases and losses, health, alcohol and drug abuse, AIDS, child abuse, summer school, prekindergarten and early childhood, adult education (excluding vocational), desegregation, private schools, safety and law enforcement, and community services. In cases where these programs are covered under a state government's general formula assistance program, revenue will be shown under "general formula assistance" instead of under this category.

    Nonspecified State Aid – State revenue amounts that pertain to more than one of the above categories but which reporting units could not provide distinct amounts into these categories. This revenue is included in "nonspecified" instead of "other."

  • Support Services Expenditure – Relates to support services functions (Function 2000) defined in "Financial Accounting for Local and State School Systems," National Center for Education Statistics, 2009. Support services presented under the current operation or current spending headings include payments from all funds for salaries, employee benefits (paid by school system only if under "current operation" or paid by both school and state if under "current spending", supplies, materials, and contractual services. It excludes capital outlay, debt service, and interfund transfers. It includes expenditure for the following functions:

    General Administration – (Function 2300) Expenditure for board of education and executive administration (office of the superintendent) services.

    Instructional Staff Support – (Function 2200) Expenditure for supervision of instruction service improvements, curriculum development, instructional staff training, and media, library, audiovisual, television, and computer–assisted instruction services.

    Operation and Maintenance of Plant – (Function 2600) Expenditure for building services (heating, electricity, air conditioning, property insurance), care and upkeep of grounds and equipment, nonstudent transportation vehicle operation and maintenance, and security services.

    Pupil Support Services – (Function 2100) Expenditure for attendance record-keeping, social work, student accounting, counseling, student appraisal, record maintenance, and placement services. This category also includes medical, dental, nursing, psychological, and speech services.

    Pupil Transportation Services – (Function 2700) Expenditure for the transportation of public school students including vehicle operation, monitoring riders, and vehicle servicing and maintenance.

    School Administration – (Function 2400) Expenditure for the office of principal services.

    Other Support Services – Expenditure for Business/Central support (Function 2500) and other support (Function 2900) services. Business support services include payments for fiscal services (budgeting, receiving and disbursing funds, payroll, internal auditing, and accounting), purchasing, warehousing, supply distribution, printing, publishing, and duplicating services. Central support services include planning, research, development, and evaluation services. They also include information services, staff services (recruitment, staff accounting, noninstructional in–service training, staff health services), and data processing services.

    Nonspecified Support Services – Expenditure that pertains to more than one of the above categories. In some cases, reporting units could not provide distinct expenditure amounts for each support services category. This expenditure is included in "nonspecified" instead of "other support services."

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T

  • Taxes – Compulsory contributions exacted by a school system for public purposes, except employee and employer assessments for retirement and social insurance purposes, which are classified as insurance trust revenue. All tax revenue is classified as general revenue and comprises amounts received (including interest and penalties but excluding protested amounts and refunds) from all taxes imposed by a government. Note that school system tax revenue excludes any amounts from shares of state–imposed–and–collected taxes, which are classified as intergovernmental revenue.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Elementary–Secondary Education Finance Data | 1 (800) 622-6193| govs.elsec@census.gov |  Last Revised: May 21, 2013