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D.C. Leads Nation as U.S. Per Pupil Tops $10,600, Census Bureau Reports

The nation's elementary-secondary public school systems spent an average of $10,615 per pupil in fiscal year 2010, up 1.1 percent from the previous year, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. District of Columbia public schools spent $18,667 per student in 2010, which is the most of any state or state equivalent. States that spent the most per pupil were New York ($18,618), New Jersey ($16,841), Alaska ($15,783), Vermont ($15,274) and Wyoming ($15,169). (See table 11. Excel | PDF).

Public Education Finances: 2010

These statistics come from Public Education Finances: 2010, a Census Bureau report that provides tables and figures on revenues, expenditures, debt and assets (cash and security holdings) of the nation's elementary and secondary public school systems for the 2010 fiscal year. The tables include detailed statistics on spending — such as instruction, student transportation, salaries and employee benefits — at the national, state and school district levels.

Public school systems received $593.7 billion in funding in 2010, up 0.5 percent from the prior year. Of that amount, local governments contributed $261.4 billion (44.0 percent), followed by revenue raised from state sources, which contributed $258.2 billion (43.5 percent), and federal sources, which provided the remaining $74.0 billion (12.5 percent).

Revenue from state sources decreased by $18.0 billion, a 6.5 percent decrease from 2009. This is the largest decrease in state funding from the prior year since the Census Bureau began publishing school system finance statistics on an annual basis in 1977 and only the second year since 1977 in which state funding decreased from the prior year (revenue from state sources also decreased 1.7 percent between 2008 and 2009).

Revenue from federal sources increased by $18.1 billion, a 32.5 percent increase from 2009 and the largest increase in federal funding for public school systems since 1977.

Total expenditures by public school systems were $602.6 billion, a 0.4 percent decrease from 2009. This decrease in total expenditures marks the first time since the Census Bureau began publishing school system finance statistics on an annual basis that expenditures by public school systems decreased from the prior year. In 2010, current spending increased 1.2 percent to $524.0 billion, of which $317.8 billion went to instruction and $179.0 billion to support services, such as student transportation and general administration. Capital outlay expenditures amounted to $59.4 billion, a 12.8 percent decrease from 2009.

Other highlights:

  • States that spent the least per pupil were Utah ($6,064), Idaho ($7,106), Arizona ($7,848) and Oklahoma ($7,896).
  • All nine states in the Northeast region of the U.S. were ranked among the top 15 in per pupil spending in 2010. Out of the 16 states with the lowest per pupil spending, 15 were in the South or West regions. The remaining state, South Dakota, is in the Midwest.
  • Of the 50 largest school systems by enrollment in the U.S., New York City School District ($19,597), Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland ($15,582), Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland ($14,711), Milwaukee Public School in Wisconsin ($14,038) and Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland ($14,019) had the highest per pupil spending in 2010.
  • Instructional expenditures accounted for the largest spending category for public education, totaling $317.8 billion in 2010, of which $211.1 billion (66.4 percent) went to instructional salaries and wages.
  • Public school systems in North Dakota (22.0 percent), Mississippi (21.2 percent), New Mexico (20.7 percent) and Idaho (20.4 percent) received the highest percentage of their revenues from the federal government, while public school systems in New Hampshire (6.6 percent), New York (6.7 percent) and the District of Columbia (6.7 percent) received the lowest.
  • Property taxes accounted for 64.8 percent of revenue from local sources for public school systems.
  • Total school system debt increased by 1.9 percent to $406.9 billion in 2010.
The data used in the tabulations came from a census of all 15,345 public school systems. 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 website at <https://www.census.gov/govs/school/>.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016