Spending Per Pupil in Public Schools Climbed as Economy Crashed, Says Dept. of Ed Study

December 2, 2011 - 5:53 PM
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama at Manchester Central High School in Manchester, N.H. on Nov. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - Inflation-adjusted median per pupil spending in U.S. public schools increased from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2009 even as the U.S. economy was crashing, according to a recently released study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

When measured in constant 2009 dollars—and even without including expenditures for capital outlays, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools--America’s public elementary and secondary schools spent a median of $9,642 per pupil in fiscal year 2008 and $9,791 in fiscal year 2009. That represented a real year-to-year increase of 1.6 percent.

At the same time, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real Gross Domestic Product was -0.3 percent in 2008 and -3.5 percent in 2009.

Not all states followed the national trend of increasing median per pupil spending in public schools in the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009. New Hampshire, for example, cut inflation-adjusted median per pupil spending by 5.7 percent during that period. Alabama and Florida cut it by 4 percent.

In Wisconsin, it increased by 2 percent—more than the nationwide rate of 1.6 percent.

When the 50 states and the District of Columbia are compared with each other, Alaska had the largest increase in median inflation-adjusted per pupil spending from 2008 to 2009. In that state, it went up 12.3 percent. The District of Columbia was second with an increase of 10.9 percent.

Alaska—at $28,125 per pupil--had the highest median total spending per student in its public schools in 2009. New York state was second with $19,607; Wyoming was third with $19,196; and the District of Columbia was fourth with $18,167.