Utah sees second largest increase in per-pupil funding, remains lowest in nation

The U.S. Census Bureau today released “Public School Finances 2009,” which offers comparative data on school financial systems in the U.S. Of special note in the bureau’s release is that Utah saw the second largest increase in per-pupil spending for the U.S. between 2008 and 2009, with an increase of 10.3 percent. Utah, however, remains at the bottom of per-pupil funding. You can see the release here and below:

Census Bureau Reports Public School Systems Spend $10,499 Per Pupil in 2009

Public school systems spent an average of $10,499 per pupil in fiscal year 2009, a 2.3 percent increase over 2008, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Public schools in New York spent more than any other state or state equivalent, with $18,126 per pupil in 2009. The District of Columbia ($16,408), New Jersey ($16,271), Alaska ($15,552) and Vermont ($15,175) had the next-highest spending. (See table 11 [PDF].)

These data come from Public Education Finances: 2009, 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, transportation and salaries, among others.

“Most children in the United States rely on public schools for their education, so it’s important for people to understand how available resources are being spent within the public education system,” said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Census Bureau’s Governments Division. “These data provide a detailed look at how taxpayer money is being spent on education.”

States or state equivalents that saw the largest percent increases in per pupil spending from 2008 to 2009 were the District of Columbia (12.4 percent), Utah (10.3 percent), Minnesota (9.4 percent), North Carolina (7.4 percent) and Maine (6.3 percent).

Public school systems received $590.9 billion in funding in 2009, up 1.5 percent from the prior year. Of that amount, state governments contributed $276.2 billion (46.7 percent), followed by revenue raised from local sources, which contributed $258.9 billion (43.8 percent), and federal sources, which provided the remaining $55.9 billion (9.5 percent).

Total spending by public school systems was $604.9 billion in 2009, a 2.0 percent increase from the prior year. Total current spending was $517.7 billion (85.6 percent), of which $311.9 billion went to instruction.

Total school district debt increased by 5.8 percent to $399.1 billion in 2009.

Other highlights:

  • States and state equivalents that spent the least per pupil were Utah ($6,356), Idaho ($7,092), Arizona ($7,813), Oklahoma ($7,885) and Tennessee ($7,897).
  • Instructional salaries accounted for the largest spending category for public elementary and secondary education, totaling $209.0 billion in 2009. (See table 6 [PDF].)
  • Property taxes accounted for 65.2 percent of revenue for public school systems from local sources.
  • The $258.9 billion in funding schools received from local sources included $227.7 billion (87.9 percent) from taxes and local government appropriations.
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The data used in the tabulations came from a census of all 15,331 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/>.

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