Census Bureau: Schools Spending $10,499 Per Pupil

By Sarah D. Sparks — May 25, 2011 1 min read
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New Census Bureau data show that on average American public schools spent $10,499 per student in 2009, up 2.3 percent from 2008, likely due to the plethora of federal grants awarded in the wake of the federal economic-stimulus packages that year.

“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, in a statement on the release. “These data provide a detailed look at how taxpayer money is being spent on education.”

Researchers and educators alike can dig into some pretty detailed tables with this release from the “Public Education Finances: 2009" study, which covers all education money coming into and going out of school districts, states, and the nation as a whole. The data include breakouts for individual education areas, such as staff salaries and instruction.

New York topped the list of big spenders in 2009, putting up more than $18,000 per student, followed by the District of Columbia, at more than $16,400 per student. The district also saw the fastest growth in spending nationwide, 12.4 percent higher than its per-pupil spending in 2008. By contrast, Utah spent the least per student, only $6,356 in 2009, but that was an increase of 10.3 percent from the previous year, making it another fast-growing state.

School districts nationwide spent $604.9 billion in 2009, up 2 percent from 2008, but they had to borrow more to do it; school district debt jumped 5.8 percent, to more than $399 billion, during the same time.

Instructional costs made up the bulk of the spending, at $311.9 billion, with elementary and secondary school salaries accounting for $209 billion.

To dig into the details, check out the data tables.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.