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Expenditures

Question:
How much money does the United States spend on public elementary and secondary schools?

Response:

Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $620 billion in 201213, or $12,296 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 201415 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,011 per student in current expenditures for the operation of schools; $931 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $355 for interest on school debt.

From 200203 to 201213, current expenditures per student enrolled in the fall in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 5 percent (from $10,455 to $11,011 in constant 201415 dollars). Current expenditures per student peaked in 200809 at $11,621 and have decreased each year since then. While current expenditures per pupil declined $64 from 201112 to 201213, this decline was smaller than the declines from 200910 to 201011 and from 201011 to 201112 ($200 and $340, respectively).

Interest payments on school debt per student in fall enrollment increased by 14 percent (from $310 to $355 in constant 201415 dollars) during the period from 200203 to 201213. Capital outlay expenditures per student in 201213 ($931) were 29 percent lower than the 200203 amount ($1,317) and 9 percent lower than the 201112 amount ($1,023); however, there were some fluctuations during this period.


Current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by function of expenditure: 200203, 200708, and 201213

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

NOTE: Instruction, Student support, Instructional staff services, Operation and maintenance, Administration, Transportation, and Food services are subcategories of Current expenditures. Student support includes expenditures for guidance, health, attendance, and speech pathology services. Instructional staff services include expenditures for curriculum development, staff training, libraries, and media and computer centers. Administration includes both general administration and school administration. Transportation refers to student transportation. Expenditures are reported in constant 201415 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).


In addition to being reported by type, expenditures are also reported by function, which describes the activity for which a service or material object is acquired. Current expenditures per student (in constant 201415 dollars) increased for most functions between 200203 and 201213, though expenditures for each function in 201213 were within a percentage point of their value in 201112. In 201213, instruction—the single largest component of current expenditures—was $6,693 per student, or 61 percent of current expenditures. Instruction expenditures include salaries and benefits of teachers and teaching assistants as well as costs for instructional materials and instructional services provided under contract. Between 200203 and 201213, expenditures per student for instruction increased by 4 percent (from $6,412 to $6,693), though they peaked in 200910 at $7,110. Expenditures between 200203 and 201213 for most other major school functions increased more rapidly, although, with the exception of food services, all function categories peaked within a year of 200809. For example, expenditures per student for student support services, such as guidance and health personnel, increased by 14 percent from 200203 to 201213 (from $539 to $614), but peaked in 200910 at $645. Expenditures per student for instructional staff services, including curriculum development, staff training, libraries, and media and computer centers, were 2 percent higher in 201213 than in 200203 ($513 versus $501) and peaked in 200708 at $576. Expenditures per student for food services, however, were highest in 201213 ($449).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). The Condition of Education 2016 (NCES 2016-144),Public School Expenditures.

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