U.S. Student Spending Fell in 2011 in First Decline Since 1977

Public spending per student on U.S. education fell in fiscal 2011, the first annual decline since at least 1977, as tax revenue dried up.

The U.S. spent an average $10,560 per student in public schools in 2011, down 0.4 percent from 2010, the Census Bureau said today. It calculated the spending of all 15,345 U.S. public school systems. Total school spending was $595.1 billion, down 1.1 percent.

Most school systems are funded through state and local property taxes, and tax collections fell 2 percent from the third quarter of 2010 through the third quarter of 2011, according to census data. The decline in per-student school spending is the first since the Census records began in 1977.

Illinois had a 7.4 percent decline in per pupil spending, the largest drop in the U.S., followed by Maine’s 6.7 percent decline and New Jersey’s 5.2 percent. The biggest increase in spending was in New Hampshire, where it climbed 6.8 percent per student, followed by 5.6 percent in Alaska and 4.7 percent in Connecticut.

New York spent $19,076 per student, the most of any state, followed by the District of Columbia with $18,475, Alaska with $16,674, New Jersey with $15,968 and Vermont with $15,925. The New York City School District, the largest in the country with 995,336 pupils, spent $19,770 per student, the most among the 100 largest school districts and almost twice as much as the $10,804 spent by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest.

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