In 2008, public school systems spent an average of $10,259 per pupil, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia spent above this amount; 32 spent less.
These data come from Public Education Finances: 2008, which provides tables on revenues, expenditures, debt and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary public school systems with data for the nation, states and school districts. The tables also include more detailed data on spending, such as instruction, school lunches, transportation and salaries, among others.
“This report on public school spending shows us how taxpayer money is being spent on education,” said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Governments Division at the U.S. Census Bureau. “Public education is the single largest category of all state and local government expenditures. These data provide a detailed picture of how available resources are spent within the public education system.”
Public school systems received $582.1 billion in funding in 2008, up 4.5 percent from 2007. Of that amount, state governments contributed 48.3 percent, followed by local sources, which contributed 43.7 percent, and federal sources, which made up the remaining 8.1 percent (see Table 5).
Public school systems' spending was up 6.0 percent in 2008, totaling $593.2 billion.
Total current spending was $506.8 billion (85.4 percent), of which $304.8 billion went to instruction, followed by $175.9 billion, which went to support services, such as transportation and school maintenance (see Table 6).
Total school district debt increased by 7.9 percent in 2008 to $377.4 billion (see Table 10).
- States and state equivalents that spent the most per pupil were New York ($17,173), New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), Vermont ($14,300) and Connecticut ($13,848) (see Table 11).
- States that spent the least per pupil were Utah ($5,765), Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685) and Tennessee ($7,739).
- Instructional salaries made up the largest spending category for public elementary and secondary education at $203.5 billion (40.2 percent) in 2008 (see Table 6).
- The percentage of public school funding from the federal government was highest in Louisiana (16.8 percent), Mississippi (16.0 percent) and South Dakota (15.2 percent) and lowest in New Jersey (3.9 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent) and Massachusetts (5.1 percent) (see Table 5).
- The percentage of funding from state government was highest in Vermont (88.5 percent), which surpassed Hawaii (84.8 percent) this year, where elementary and secondary education is run by the state government, followed by Arkansas (76.0 percent). The percentage of funding from state government was lowest in Nebraska (33.0 percent), South Dakota (33.2 percent) and Illinois (33.8 percent).
- Among states, the percentage of funding from local governments was highest in Illinois (58.2 percent), Nebraska (57.3 percent) and Connecticut (57.3 percent) and lowest in Hawaii (3.0 percent), Vermont (5.0 percent) and Arkansas (13.4 percent).
- The $254.1 billion schools received from local sources included $218.4 billion from taxes and local government appropriations (see Table 4).
- Property taxes accounted for 63.7 percent of revenue for public school systems from local sources.
The data used in the tabulations came from a census of all 15,569 public school districts. As such, they are not subject to sampling error. Although quality assurance methods were applied to all phases of data collection and processing, the data are subject to nonsampling error, including errors of response and miscoding. For more information, visit the Census Bureau’s Web site at <http://www.census.gov/govs/school/