Where Does Money for Public Education Come From?

The single largest expenditure for state and local governments is public education, and according to recently released numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, states in the U.S. spent an average of more than $10,000 per student in 2008, a 6 percent increase over what they spent in 2007.

Further, 12 of the 50 states spent more than $10,000 per pupil, with New York ($17,173), New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), and Vermont ($14,300) putting the most money behind their youngsters. Utah ($5,765), Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685), and Tennessee ($7,739) spent the least amount of money per student.

It isn't always clear, especially during moments when the federal government is running programs, such as Race to the Top, but federal funding makes up only a small portion of the money given to public schools. Federal money was responsible for, on average, fewer than 10 percent of each school district's budget. Louisiana (16.8 percent), Mississippi (16.0 percent), and South Dakota (15.2 percent) use the highest percentage of federal money; whereas New Jersey (3.9 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent), and Massachusetts (5.1 percent) use the least.

Head on over to the Census Bureau site to see more information on where money for public education is coming from and how it's being spent.

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