Budget & Finance

Maryland Districts Dominate Top Per-Pupil Spenders, Census Data Show

By Lesli A. Maxwell — May 23, 2014 1 min read
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Among the 100 largest public school systems, Maryland boasts more districts than any other state that ranks among those that had the highest per-pupil spending rates in fiscal 2012, according to new school finance data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Howard County, Prince George’s County, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County all posted more than $12,000 in per-pupil spending in 2012. Of those six systems, Baltimore City spent the most at $15,287 and was only outranked overall by the New York City district ($20,226) and the Boston Public Schools ($19,720). In Maryland, Montgomery ($14,873) and Howard counties ($14,747) followed in fourth and fifth places overall, according to the Census’ annual publication of school finance information.

At the state level, those in the Northeast were among the highest per-pupil spenders—New York, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Connecticut were all in the top five, along with Alaska. Of the 20 states with the lowest per-pupil spending levels, 18 were either in the South or the West. Utah ranked dead last at $6,206 per pupil, with Idaho barely above that level at $6,659.

While per-pupil spending overall did not change between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, total expenditures of public K-12 school systems did dip slightly from $596.3 billion to $593.8 billion, the third straight year for such a decrease. Census researchers attribute that trend to less spending by school districts on construction and equipment. Spending categories that saw some uptick overall were employee benefits and support services, while spending on instruction and salaries and wages decreased some.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.