E.D. Tab, April 2005: Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2002–03
Selected Findings
Selected Findings

Approximately $440 billion in revenue was raised to fund public education for grades prekindergarten through 12 in school year 2002–03, also referred to as fiscal year 2003. Total expenditures for public education, including school construction, debt financing, community services, and adult education programs, came to $455 billion.

Current expenditures (those excluding construction, equipment, and debt financing) were over $387 billion, a 5.2 percent increase from fiscal year 2002. About three out of every five current expenditure dollars were spent on teachers, textbooks, and other instructional services and supplies. An average of $8,044 was spent on each student-an increase of 4.0 percent from $7,734 in school year 2001–02 (in unadjusted dollars).1

Revenues for Public Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Approximately $440 billion were collected for public elementary and secondary education for school year 2002–03 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia (table 1). Total revenues ranged from a high of around $57 billion in California, which serves about 1 out of every 8 students in the nation, to a low of about $825 million in North Dakota, which serves roughly 1 out of every 449 students in the nation (table 5).

  • Nationally, revenues increased an average of 4.9 percent over the previous year's revenues of nearly $420 billion (in unadjusted dollars).

  • The greatest part of education revenues came from state and local governments, which together provided nearly $403 billion or 91.5 percent of all revenues (tables 2 and 3).

  • The federal government contribution to education revenues made up approximately $38 billion. The relative contributions from these levels of government can be expressed as portions of the typical education dollar (figure 1). Local sources for school year 2002–03 made up 43 cents of every dollar in revenue; state revenues comprised 49 cents; and the remaining 9 cents came from federal sources. (The cents do not sum to $1 due to rounding.)

  • Among states with more than one school district, revenues from local sources ranged from 12.9 percent in New Mexico to 62.8 percent in Nevada (table 2).2 Revenues from state sources also showed a wide distribution in their share of total revenues. The state revenue share of total revenues was 30.2 percent in Nevada and 73.8 percent in Minnesota. Federal revenues ranged from 4.3 percent in New Jersey to 17.7 percent in Alaska. Federal sources contributed 10 percent or more of the revenues in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education

  • Current expenditures for public education in 2002–03 totaled approximately $388 billion (table 3). This represents a $19 billion (5.2 percent) increase over expenditures in the previous school year ($368 billion in unadjusted dollars). Nearly $238 billion in current expenditures was spent on instruction. Instructional expenditures include teacher salaries and benefits, supplies (e.g., textbooks), and purchased services. Another $134 billion were expended for a cluster of services that support instruction. Almost $16 billion were spent on noninstructional services.

  • Expressed in terms of the typical education dollar, instructional expenditures accounted for approximately 61 cents of the education dollar for current expenditures (figure 2). About 35 cents of the education dollar went for support services, which include operation and maintenance of buildings, school administration, transportation, and other student and school support activities (e.g., student counseling, libraries, and health services). Just over 4 cents of every education dollar went to noninstructional activities, which include school meals and enterprise activities, such as bookstores.

  • Most states were clustered around the national average (61.3 percent) in terms of the share of current expenditures spent on instruction. Among the states, New Mexico spent the smallest percentage (55.5 percent) of their current expenditures on instruction, while New York spent the largest percentage (68.7 percent) of their current expenditures on instruction. The District of Columbia spent 52.5 percent of their current expenditures on instruction (table 4).

Current Expenditures per Student

  • In 2002–03, the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent an average of $8,044 in current expenditures for every pupil in membership (table 5). This represents a 4.0 percent increase in current expenditures per student from the previous school year ($7,734 in unadjusted dollars).

  • The median of the state per pupil expenditures was $7,574, indicating that one-half of all states educated students at a cost of less than $7,574 per student (derived from table 5). Three states-New Jersey ($12,568), New York ($11,961), and Connecticut ($11,057)-expended more than $11,000 per pupil. The District of Columbia, which comprises a single urban district, spent $11,847 per pupil. Only one state, Utah, had expenditures of less than $5,000 for each pupil in membership ($4,838).

  • On average, for every student in 2002–03, about $4,934 was spent for instructional services. Expenditures per pupil for instruction ranged from $3,103 in Utah to $ 8,213 in New York. Support services expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($5,331) and New Jersey ($4,757) and lowest in Mississippi ($1,966), Tennessee ($1,885), and Utah ($1,461). Expenditures per pupil for noninstructional services such as food services were $329 for the nation.

Expenditures for Instruction

  • Expenditures for instruction totaled nearly $238 billion for school year 2002–03 (table 6). Nearly $169 billion went for salaries for teachers and instructional aides. Benefits for instructional staff made up almost $46 billion, bringing the total for salaries and benefits for teachers and teacher aides to nearly $215 billion.

  • Instructional supplies, including textbooks, made up over $11 billion. (Expenditures for computers and desks are not considered current expenditures, but are otherwise part of replacement equipment in table 7.) Expenditures for purchased services were over $7 billion. These expenditures include the costs for contract teachers (who are not on the school district's payroll), educational television, computer-assisted instruction, and rental of equipment for instruction.

  • Tuition expenditures for sending students to out-of-state schools and nonpublic schools within the state totaled over $3 billion.

Total Expenditures

  • Total expenditures made by school districts came to approximately $455 billion in the 2002–03 school year (table 7). About $388 billion of total expenditures were current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education. Of the total expenditures made by school districts, a little less than $43 billion was spent on facilities acquisition and construction, about $6 billion was spent on replacement equipment, and little over $11 billion was spent on interest payments on debt. The remaining amount ($7 billion) was spent on other programs, such as community services and adult education, which are not part of public elementary and secondary education.

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