K-12 average is $10,499 per pupil

Public schools spent $10,499 per student in fiscal 2009, according to the Census Bureau. That was 2.3 percent more than the year before.  New York was the top spender at $18,126 per pupil, followed by the District of Columbia ($16,408) and New Jersey ($16,271).

For $18,126 per student — or even $10,499 per student — it should be possible to pay teachers fairly, buy books and supplies and heat the building.

Utah spent just $6,356, Idaho $7,092 and Arizona $7,813.

Public school systems received $590.9 billion in funding in 2009, up 1.5 percent from the prior year. States provided 46.7 percent, local sources 43.8 percent and the federal government 9.5 percent.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Posted it before, but with an error. I mentioned that the late Sen. Moynihan had commissioned a study whose result showed that the correlation between propinquity to the Canadian border and educational performance is stronger than the correlation between expenditure and educational performance.
    Somebody asked me if Detroit was an outlier.
    Upon further research, I discovered Moynihan’s point was the propinquity of the state capital to the Canadian border was the key.
    There is an inverse correlation between propinquity to a large city, or, worse, actually being in a large city.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    What is it with this thing?
    Which propinquity completely overcomes the correlation with expenditure.

  3. Mark Roulo says:

    And before this discussion gets too far …. there are usually two ” per student” numbers thrown about. The one in this post is state level spending. Spending at the school level (which is often the number used to show how underfunded the school is) is about 2/3 of the state level spending. 1/3 of the money spent at the state level does not make it to the schools.

  4. tim-10-ber says:

    The numbers for Tennessee are not right. According to the state report card the State of Tennessee spent $8,518 per student in 2009. The district I am in (Davidson County) spent $10,495 per student. This is equal to some of the private school tuitions in my district…

    So, where is the additional $2K per student spent? Why do charter schools not get the same amount as the district spends per student?

    My district is funded 10% feds, roughly 40% state and the rest the city/county.

  5. to heighten your sense of perspective, measure cost per output rather than cost per input.

    what is the annual cost per graduate? what is the cost per college-ready graduate?

  6. Genevieve says:

    I would guess that the amounts listed is probably different than the amount spent on the average student in the state.

  7. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Chris asketh:

    to heighten your sense of perspective, measure cost per output rather than cost per input.

    what is the annual cost per graduate? what is the cost per college-ready graduate?

    Per-graduate figures would be interesting, but it is not really the purpose of high schools to produce college-ready graduates, so such a figure would be somewhat misleading.

  8. Kirk Seal says:

    As a school board member in the great state of California I can only dream of funding levels this high. We are working with a 19% deficit factor. Our funding went from $6,200 to $5,100 in three years. We would be in great shape at 10 k/Ada.

  9. Mark Roulo says:


    California spent about $9K per student in 2010.

    The taxes are levied and the money is spent, it just doesn’t get to the schools.



    -Mark Roulo

  10. I’m wondering how much of this is spent on stuff that directly impacts students and how much is spent on things like busing, pretty buildings, mandated textbook adoptions, and other unnecessary overhead. I’m also wondering exactly what the figure is on classroom teacher salaries on a per student basis, not counting specialists who travel or have students come to them (I’m not saying they’re not important, just that their salaries skew what’s being spent on the average student).