The National Center for Education Statistics released its first look at the comprehensive public education revenue and expenditures figures for the 2014-15 school year.
Despite the usual complaints, our public schools seem to have put the aftermath of the recession behind them and have resumed spending at their traditional clip. Total expenditures grew by more than 3 percent nationwide to reach $652 billion. Student enrollment grew by 0.5 percent.
Employee wages and benefits accounted for 79.8 percent of all current spending in 2015, but we are now seeing quite a change in the rate of increase between those two categories.
Wages went up 3 percent, commensurate with overall spending, which is what you would expect. But spending on employee benefits rose 5.9 percent to total almost $131 billion.
The public is woefully uninformed about education spending and salaries, but at least the topic is constantly discussed. The level of benefit spending is the purview of a few brave souls whose warnings go unheeded.
There is a two-year lag in the NCES numbers, but there is no reason to believe this was merely a momentary spike. The pension tsunami is growing, to the point where it might even drive salaries and shortages from the public agenda.