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Current Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: School Year 2003-04

NCES 2008-352
July 2006

Summary of Findings - Introduction

This report presents current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education for school year 2003-04 (or fiscal year 2004). These data are from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Common Core of Data (CCD), National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS) and School District Finance Survey (F-33). The data for these collections were reported to NCES by state education agencies and represent current expenditures for public education, grades prekindergarten, kindergarten, 1 through 12, and ungraded classes. The fiscal year began on July 1, 2003 and ended on June 30, 2004 for most states. The fiscal year for Alabama ran from October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004, and the fiscal year for Nebraska and Texas ran from September 1, 2003 through August 31, 2004. These data are not adjusted to conform to a uniform fiscal year.

Total current expenditures represent the amounts expended for the day-to-day operation of schools and school districts. The majority of these expenditures go towards salaries and benefits for school staff; however, they also include purchased services and supplies. Expenditures for school construction and other capital outlays, as well as debt services, and programs outside of public elementary and secondary education, are not included. Expenditures for the state education agency are also excluded from these data.

This report presents a different breakout of current expenditures than that in previous E.D. TAB reports by NCES. The earlier breakouts of instruction, support services and noninstruction have been replaced by instruction and instruction-related, student support services, administration, and operations. These breakouts provide a clearer picture of how education dollars are spent. The category of instruction and instruction-related expenditures brings together expenditures for staff and services that work directly with students, such as teachers, teaching assistants, and librarians. Student support services include guidance counselors, school nurses, social workers, and attendance staff. Administration includes administrators and administrative staff of schools and school districts. Operations include the operating expenditures for keeping schools and other school district facilities operating, as well as student transportation and food services. The data collection has not changed, and it is still possible to re-construct the earlier breakouts from the current data file.

This report is also the first time that data from the state-level NPEFS and district-level F-33 surveys appear in the same NCES report. The NPEFS data include public education expenditures for regular education, special education, and vocational education programs, as well as all charter schools (if they reported data to the state education agency). The NPEFS data also include expenditures for state-run education programs such as special education centers or education programs for incarcerated youth. Data in tables 1, 2, and 3 come from the NPEFS survey.

The F-33 data include only school districts. State-run education agencies are excluded from the F-33 data collection. For this report, only regular school districts with student counts greater than zero, with current expenditures per student between $2,500 and $35,000 per annum, and that are on the CCD "Local Education Agency Universe Survey" file were included in analyses of the CCD "Local Education Agency Universe" file.1 There were 13,932 such districts in school year 2003-04. National figures do not include independent charter school districts (i.e., those not affiliated with a non-charter school district). Charter schools that are affiliated with regular school districts are included in the national and state figures. Data in table 4 come from the F-33 survey. For more information, please see the Appendix A: Technical Notes.

1Forty-two districts had expenditures outside of this range and were removed from the analysis. These districts are considered outliers with extraordinary expenditures per student.