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July 27, 2009

Still number one

E.J. McMahon

New York led the nation in K-12 education spending per pupil in 2006-07, according to new data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Empire State’s school spending of $15,981 per pupil was 65 percent above the national average of $9,666.  New York’s total school spending of nearly $51 billion was exceeded only by California, which has more than twice as many students.

Some immediate takeaways:

  • New York’s state government paid for 45.2 percent of school spending, slightly below the national state-funded average of 47.6 percent.  New York’s 48.4 percent locally funded share was above the national average of 44 percent.  But in absolute terms, New York ranked high in both categories — fifth among states in state-supported spending at $8,293 per pupil, and third in local spending at $8,875 per pupil.
  • The lion’s share of the $6,315 per-pupil difference between New York and the national average could be attributed to higher spending on salaries and benefits for instructional purposes, the new federal data indicate.   In fact, New York’s spending on instructional salaries and benefits alone–which came to $11,042 per pupil, 88 percent above average–exceeded the total per-pupil spending of 37 states.
  • Many assume that New York’s high school spending is in part a factor of its unusually large number of local school districts.  But if true, this is not reflected in spending on education administration. New York’s per-pupil administrative expenditures were just 18 percent above the national average.  If New York had reduced its administrative spending to the national average in 2006-07, the resulting savings would have come to $270 million — just 0.06 percent of the total that year.
  • New York’s schools were ranked among the nation’s best in Education Week’s recent annual “Quality Count” report.  But two higher-ranked states, Maryland and Massachusetts, spent $4,257 and $3,243 less per pupil, respectively.  If New York spent at the Maryland rate, it would have saved $11.7 billion; if it had spent Massachusetts rate, it would have saved $8.9 billion.

Here is a chart showing how the 50 states ranked, from top to bottom.

Filed under: School Finance


  1. [...] McMahon, director of the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for New York State Policy, points out on his blog that New York’s school spending of nearly $51 billion was less than only California, which has [...]

    Pingback by New York Highest In School Spending | Political Scene: From the Rochester Perspective | Rochester Democrat and Chronicle — July 27, 2009 @ 1:26 pm

  2. A friendly clarification: Regarding administrative costs, even the favorable characterization above may understate how thrifty New York schools’ spending on administration is. Using the same data referenced in this report, nationally, 5.5% of all education spending is for school administration. But in New York, spending on school administration is quite a bit less - 4.0%.

    The bullet point above accurately points out that NY’s “per pupil” administrative spending exceeds national per pupil spending by 18%, but that’s driven by NY’s higher overall per pupil spending, thus masking the fact that administration comprises a significantly smaller percentage of all school spending when compared to national averages.

    Tom Rogers
    Executive Director
    NYS Council of School Superintendents

    Comment by Dr. Thomas Rogers — July 27, 2009 @ 6:36 pm

  3. [...] McMahon of the conservative Empire Center did a blog post which noted, among other things, that New York’s spending on school administration is much [...]

    Pingback by Why we’re number 1 - EdVANTAGE Blog - The Official Blog of the New York State Council of School Superintendents — July 28, 2009 @ 3:07 pm

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