US Census Bureau The US Census has released its updated school spending report. The current spending per pupil for all 50 states and the District of Columbia was $11,762 in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015. The states spending the most per pupil were New York ($22,366), the District of Columbia ($19,159), Connecticut ($18,958), New Jersey ($18,402) and Vermont ($17,873). Lowest was Utah ($6,953). Vermont's relatively highest spending category per pupil was in school administration ($1,296; US average $651), which was second highest only to DC ($1,447). Vermont ranked sixth in teacher salaries ($6,743, US average $4,603; DC highest $9,547; New York highest state $9,407; Utah lowest, $2,698).
When looking at the per pupil spending number by itself, it seems like these states are putting the most into their students, but what do those numbers mean in context of the number of students per school system?
Nationwide, there were approximately 48.6 million children enrolled in public elementary-secondary schools in 2016. That’s over 48 million children sitting in state- and federally-funded classrooms.
How much funding each state gets and how it gets used is fundamental to the monitoring of public school education.
In 2016, public elementary and secondary schools across the nation received $353.2 billion in state and federal revenue, most of which goes into expenditures such as teacher’s salaries, transportation and other associated expenses. The current spending per pupil for all 50 states and the District of Columbia was $11,762 in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2015.
For smaller school systems, funds are often distributed among fewer students and more dollars are put into their education. For larger school districts with more students, the funds may not be as concentrated.
Of the smallest 1,000 school districts based on enrollment size, over 700 of these districts spend more than the national amount of $11,762. Over 350 of these districts spend more than $20,000 per pupil.
However, not all large school districts spend less per pupil. Some very large school districts actually spend more than the national amount and are on par with spending in small districts.
When looking at the top 100 school systems by enrollment size, you see heavily populated states like New York, Massachusetts and Maryland rising to the top 100.
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[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]
Highlights of the report include:
- Of the 50 states, New York ($22,366), the District of Columbia ($19,159), Connecticut ($18,958), New Jersey ($18,402) and Vermont ($17,873) spent the most per pupil in 2016. California (9.8 percent), Washington (7.4 percent), Hawaii (7.0 percent), Utah (5.8 percent) and New York (5.5 percent) saw the largest percentage increases in current spending per pupil from 2015 to 2016. To see the top 10 school districts by current spending per pupil, see the graphic Top 10 Largest School Districts by Per Pupil Current Spending.
- Within public school systems, Mississippi (14.6 percent), Arizona (13.8 percent), South Dakota (13.5 percent), New Mexico (13.5 percent) and Montana (12.4 percent) received the highest percentage of their revenues from the federal government, while public school systems in New Jersey (4.1 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent), Massachusetts (4.4 percent), New York (5.1 percent) and Minnesota (5.3 percent) received the lowest.
- Mississippi ($8,072), Oklahoma ($8,097), Arizona ($7,613), Idaho ($7,157) and Utah ($6,953) were the lowest spending.
These statistics come from the 2016 Annual Survey of School System Finances. Education finance data include revenues, expenditures, debt and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary (prekindergarten through 12th grade) public school systems. Statistics cover school systems in all states, and include the District of Columbia. Data are nominal dollar amounts and do not reflect differences in local costs.
1 Includes amounts not shown separately.
Source: US Census. 6.5.2018. On May 21, 2018, FY 2016 Annual Survey of School System Finances data files were released. Prepared by Stephen Wheeler, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s Economic Reimbursable Surveys Division.