FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2021
Public School Spending Per Pupil Increases by Largest Amount in 11 Years
Release Number CB21-TPS.57
MAY 18, 2021 — According to new Annual Survey of School System Finances tables, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, per pupil spending for elementary and secondary public education (pre-K through 12th grade) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 5.0% to $13,187 per pupil during the 2019 fiscal year, compared to $12,559 per pupil in 2018. This is the largest increase in more than a decade. Data for this report covers the fiscal year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The spending increase was due in part to an overall increase in revenue. In 2019, public elementary and secondary schools received $751.7 billion from all revenue sources, up 4.5% from $719.0 billion in 2018.
Other highlights include:
- State governments contributed the greatest share — 46.7% or $350.9 billion — of public school funding in fiscal year 2019.
- New York ($25,139), the District of Columbia ($22,406), which comprises a single urban district; Connecticut ($21,310), New Jersey ($20,512), and Vermont ($20,315) spent the most per pupil in fiscal year 2019.
- Of the 100 largest public school systems (based on enrollment), the six that spent the most per pupil in FY 2019 were the New York City School District in New York ($28,004), Boston City Schools in Massachusetts ($25,653), Washington Schools in the District of Columbia ($22,406), San Francisco Unified in California ($17,228), Atlanta School District in Georgia ($17,112), and Seattle Public Schools in Washington ($16,543).
- Public school systems in Alaska (15.3%), Mississippi (14.0%), South Dakota (13.7%), New Mexico (13.0%) and Arizona (12.9%) received the highest percentage of their revenues from the federal government, while public school systems in New Jersey (4.1%), Connecticut (4.3%), Massachusetts (4.3%), New York (4.8%) and New Hampshire (5.0%) received the lowest.
- Total public school district debt increased by 3.7% to $495.1 billion in fiscal year 2019 from $477.4 billion in fiscal year 2018.
These statistics come from the 2019 Annual Survey of School System Finances. Education finance data include revenues, expenditures, debt and assets (cash and security holdings). Statistics are not adjusted for cost of living differences between geographic areas. A preliminary version of the fiscal year 2020 data will be released in the fall of 2021.
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