In rural areas, adjusted current public school expenditures per student were higher in 2003–04 than in cities, suburbs, and towns. Public schools had higher adjusted current expenditures per student in high-poverty rural school districts than in middle-poverty and middle high-poverty rural school districts.
Expenditures for public schools are typically discussed as either current expenditures for regular schools programs, which are instruction, administrative, and operation and maintenance expenditures, or else as total expenditures, which include current expenditures plus capital outlay and interest on school debt. In 2003–04, current expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools amounted to $8,100 per student and total expenditures amounted to $9,800 per student (table 3.2).
In order to make an appropriate comparison across locales, this indicator examines differences in current expenditures per student, with adjustments to reflect geographic cost differences.1 Adjusted current expenditures per student for public schools in rural areas ($8,400) were higher than in cities ($8,100) and suburban areas ($7,900).
Rural public schools in high-poverty school districts had lower adjusted current expenditures per student ($8,400) than rural schools located in low-poverty ($9,100) or middle-low poverty ($8,500) districts (figure 3.2).2 However, the adjusted current expenditures per student for rural schools located in high-poverty districts were greater than the adjusted current expenditures for rural schools located in middle high-poverty school districts ($8,100) and middle-poverty districts ($8,200). A similar pattern was seen in rural fringe areas, although not in distant and remote rural areas.
In contrast, city schools located in high-poverty school districts had higher adjusted current expenditures per student than low-poverty, middle low-poverty, middle-poverty, and middle high-poverty school districts.