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Indicators

Public School Expenditures
(Last Updated: May 2015)

From 2000–01 to 2011–12, current expenditures per student in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 11 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Current expenditures per student peaked in 2008–09 at $11,537 and have decreased each year since then. The amount for 2011–12 ($11,014) was 3 percent less than the amount for 2010–11 ($11,332).

Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $621 billion in 2011–12, or $12,401 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 2013–14 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,014 per student in current expenditures for operation of schools; $1,018 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $370 for interest on school debt.


Figure 1. Total expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

Figure 1. Total expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

NOTE: Current expenditures, Capital outlay, and Interest on school debt are subcategories of Total expenditures. Capital outlay includes expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors. Expenditures are reported in constant 2013–14 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 236.60.


From 2000–01 to 2011–12, current expenditures per student enrolled in the fall in public elementary and secondary schools increased by 11 percent (from $9,904 to $11,014 in constant 2013–14 dollars). Current expenditures per student peaked in 2008–09 at $11,537 and have decreased each year since then. The amount for 2011–12 ($11,014) was 3 percent ($318) less than the amount for 2010–11 ($11,332).

Interest payments on school debt per student in fall enrollment increased by 28 percent (from $289 to $370 in constant 2013–14 dollars) during the period from 2000–01 to 2011–12. Capital outlay expenditures per student in 2011–12 ($1,018) were 22 percent lower than the 2000–01 amount ($1,310) and 7 percent lower than the 2010–11 amount ($1,094); however, there were some fluctuations during this period.


Figure 2. Current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by function of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

Figure 2. Current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by function of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

NOTE: Instruction, Student support, Instructional staff services, Operation and maintenance, Administration, Transportation, and Food services are subcategories of Current expenditures. Student support include 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 2013–14 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 236.60.


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. Per student current expenditures (in constant 2013–14 dollars) increased for most functions between 2000–01 and 2011–12, though expenditures for most functions were lower in 2011–12 than in 2010–11. In 2011–12, instruction—the single largest component of current expenditures—was $6,706 per student, or about 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 2000–01 and 2011–12, expenditures per student for instruction increased by 10 percent (from $6,093 to $6,706), though they peaked in 2009–10 at $7,059. Expenditures per pupil for instruction for 2011–12 ($6,706) were 3 percent lower than the amount in 2010–11 ($6,932). Expenditures between 2000–01 and 2011–12 for several other major school functions increased more rapidly. However, with the exception of food services, instructional staff services, and transportation services, all function categories peaked within a year of 2009–10. For example, expenditures per student for student support services, such as guidance and health personnel, increased by 25 percent from 2000–01 to 2011–12 (from $492 to $613), but peaked in 2009–10 at $640. Expenditures per student for instructional staff services, including curriculum development, staff training, libraries, and media and computer centers, increased by 13 percent from 2000–01 to 2011–12 (from $453 to $511), but peaked in 2008–09 at $556. The exception to this trend was food services where expenditures per student in 2011–12 were the highest ever reported ($443).


Figure 3. Percentage of current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

Figure 3. Percentage of current expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools, by type of expenditure: 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12

NOTE: Salaries and benefits, Salaries, Benefits, Purchased services, and Supplies are subcategories of Current expenditures. Purchased services includes expenditures for contracts for food, transportation, or janitorial services, or professional development for teachers. Supplies include expenditures for items ranging from books to heating oil. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "National Public Education Financial Survey," 2000–01, 2005–06, 2010–11, and 2011–12. See Digest of Education Statistics 2014, table 236.60.


Current expenditures for education can also be expressed in terms of the percentage of funds going toward salaries, benefits, purchased services, or supplies. On a national basis in 2011–12, approximately 80 percent of current expenditures were for salaries and benefits for staff. Approximately 10 percent of current expenditures were for purchased services, which include a wide variety of items, such as contracts for food, transportation, or janitorial services, or for professional development for teachers. Generally speaking, this expenditure distribution shifted only slightly from 2000–01 to 2011–12, when expenditures for purchased services increased from 9 to 10 percent. Eight percent of school expenditures in 2011–12 were for supplies, ranging from books to heating oil. The percentages of expenditures for supplies changed less than one percentage point over the period from 2000–01 to 2011–12. There were, however, shifts within the distribution of salaries and benefits for staff, as the proportion of school budgets for staff salaries decreased from 64 percent in 2000–01 to 59 percent in 2011–12, and the proportion of staff benefits increased from 17 to 22 percent during this period.


Glossary terms: Consumer Price Index (CPI), Current expenditures (elementary/secondary), Expenditures, Total, Public school or institution, Salary
Data Source: Common Core Data (CCD)


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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education