U.S. schools spend $10,259 per student

U.S. public schools spent $10,259 per student in 2007-08, according to a Census Bureau report. New York, topping the nation at $17,173 per student, spent roughly three times more than Utah, which spent only $5,765 per student.

The national average represented a 6.1 percent increase over the year before.

Other top spenders were New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), Vermont ($14,300) and Connecticut ($13,848). After Utah, low spenders were Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685) and Tennessee ($7,739).

Instructional salaries made up 40.2 percent of school spending, the report found.

Louisiana had the highest percentage of public-school funding from the federal government at 16.8%, followed by Mississippi (16%) and South Dakota (15.2%). The lowest percentages were in New Jersey (3.9%), Connecticut (4.2%) and Massachusetts (5.1%).

Nationwide, 8.1 percent of school spending came from federal sources.

With many large Mormon families, Utah and Idaho have more students per taxpayer than other states, notes the Deseret News.

School districts cope through a number of methods, such as hiring uncertified employees to man their libraries, and relying on aides who receive on-the-job training. This year, at least eight districts will be cutting back on their instructional days, and in districts throughout the state, portable classrooms are used as a means of accommodating population surges and staving off building projects until funding is available.

And those large Mormon families don’t produce a lot of problem children. Uncertified library aides and portables are common in California, which spent $9,863 per student, 28th in the nation, according to the Census report.

Update: Charter schools do no better than district-run schools, says American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten. A reader writes: Five thousand years of Jewish history and we finally find a Jewish woman who boasts of paying retail.

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  1. I wonder if those figures really represent the total cost. I remember that someone went digging into the DCPS finances, just recently, and discovered whole pots of money that weren’t included in “the budget”, such as capital improvements and others that increased the total expenditures significantly.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:


    You’re probably thinking of Adam B. Schaeffer’s recent study for the libertarian Cato Institute, “They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools.”


  3. The figure “current expenditures” does not include capital costs, pensions paid to retired employees, or unfunded (contractural) pension obligations to current employees. This is a fraud on the taxpayer.

    Other large costs of the State-monopoly school system which do not appear on any balance sheet include the opportunity cost to students of the time they spend in school and the lost innovation in educational technology which a competitive market would generate.

  4. Uncertified library aids? Oh my… what is this world coming to.


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