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Local Government School System Finance Survey

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Formerly Education Finance Survey


To provide statistics about the finances of elementary and secondary public school systems. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this data collection and responses are voluntary. The National Center for Education Statistics partially funds the survey.


All public school systems that provide elementary or secondary education. Private schools are excluded.


Data include revenue by source (local property tax, monies from other school systems, private tuition and transportation payments, school lunch charges, direct state aid, and federal aid passed through the state government), expenditure by function and object (instruction, support service functions, salaries, and capital outlay), indebtedness, and cash and investments.

Content was expanded at the request of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) since 1992. New data items and detail included: direct state aid for 11 types of programs (such as general formula assistance, staff improvement, and special education); federal aid for Title I, Children with Disabilities, and Impact Aid programs; salaries and employee benefits by function; maintenance, transportation, and business activities; and spending for instructional equipment.


Reported data are for school system fiscal years. Collection begins approximately six months after the fiscal year ends and continues for the next nine months. Data has been collected annually since 1977. From 1957 to 1977, school expenditure data were collected and published as part of the annual public finance survey.


A survey of selected school systems for most fiscal years, or an enumeration of all school systems for census years (years ending in 2 or 7"), or for years specified by the NCES. For survey years, the sample of public school systems is selected as part of the larger sample of local governments used for the annual surveys of public finances and employment. About 1,400 school systems that are financially dependent on a county or municipality, or independent systems with enrollments of a least 10,000, are selected with certainty.

Other systems are selected in proportion to the size of their contribution to total local government expenditure and debt. Data for school systems are collected centrally from state education agencies since these are part of more detailed data routinely collected for state education aid programs. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia provide data for this program in Census Bureau format, and 27 states provide data in formats that must be converted by Census Bureau analysts.


Public Education Finances reports are released as part of the Census of Governments for years ending in "2" and "7". Statistical tables can be viewed and downloaded from Reports and statistical tables contain national and state aggregated data for major components of school system revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. They also provide similar detail, per pupil, for school systems with enrollments larger than 15,000. Data files that contain full survey or enumeration data detail for each covered school system also are available for download at the same site. Data for individual systems are public data and not subject to confidentiality limitations.


Provides current and comprehensive statistics on the financing of state public elementary-secondary education in the U.S. and helps determine whether funding systems have become more or less equitable over time.


The NCES, the Department of Education (including the special education and impact aid offices), the Department of Defense, the Department of Interior (including the Bureau of Indian Affairs), and the Congressional Research Service routinely use the data for program and policy analyses. State and local governments use the information for intra- and interstate peer analysis. Universities and professional associations use the data for trend and equity analyses.


Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances

State and Local Government Public-Employee Retirement Systems Survey

Annual Public Employment Survey

Non_Fiscal Surveys of the Common Core of Data (CCD)

National Public Education Financial Survey

Teacher Compensation Survey




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