Per-Pupil Spending Decreased in 2011

May 28, 2013

Per-Pupil Spending Decreased in 2011. The effects of the recession hit K-12 public education a lot later than the rest of the economy, with the nation’s school systems recording their first decrease in per-pupil spending since the U.S. Census Bureau began tracking that data in 1977. The annual Census Bureau report on public school revenues and expenditures was released last week. It covered the 2010-11 school year. As is my practice, I’ve coupled the Census figures with staffing statistics from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data and state departments of education for a full picture of the fiscal and labor scene.

Average current spending per-pupil in the 2010-11 school year fell to $10,560, with 21 states spending less than the previous year. The number of full-time equivalent K-12 teachers fell by about 82,000. Thirty-five states employed fewer teachers in 2011 than in 2010.

Annual figures can spike in either direction, so I have constructed a table of the 50 states that examines enrollment, hiring and labor costs over a five-year period (I will eventually update figures for each of America’s more than 13,000 school districts).

From 2006 to 2011, student enrollment decreased a cumulative 0.2 percent, while the K-12 teacher workforce decreased 0.3 percent. Per-pupil spending increased 15.6 percent (about 3.6% after correcting for inflation). Spending on education employee salaries and benefits increased 16 percent.

It’s likely that the 2012 numbers will reflect even sharper declines in spending, after which we can expect a plateau. What happens from here on out is the $600 billion question.

Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics May 21-28:

*  A Stroll Through the Moratorium Mausoleum. Remember the full inclusion moratorium of 1994? Don’t worry. No one does.

Pink Slips, Layoffs and RIFs Are Not the Same Thing. Reckless use of synonyms.

NEA to Debate Firing Arne Duncan, Again. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Union Trigger. Two stories about accountability and teacher voice.

*  Census Bureau Releases 2011 Education Finance Report. The big picture.

Memorial Day. The words to say.

Quote of the Week. “Anytime there’s an audit of Title I dollars, you’re going to see errors at the school level because schools spend money for what they need, and then sometimes they worry about if it fits the parameter of the grant later.” – Andres Alonso, CEO of the Baltimore City Schools, after a federal audit revealed that Title I and stimulus dollars were used for dinner cruises, meals, theater performances and a mother/daughter makeover. (May 23 CBS Baltimore)

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