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Report: California well below average in per-pupil spending in 2013

LA School Report | June 3, 2015

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per pupil spending

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


California spent less than the national average per pupil in 2013, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The state’s spending of $9,220 per student was below the national average of $10,700 and behind 34 other states and the District of Columbia, but still well ahead of some of the worst states on the list, with Utah coming in last at $6,555 per student. New York led the nation with $19,818 per student

“These statistics provide researchers, policymakers and the public with a picture of the nation’s public school system education revenue and spending,” Stephen Wheeler, an analyst with the Census Bureau’s Educational Finance Branch, said in a press release. “These data are used in a variety of important economic measures such as the Department of Education’s Title I Grants and the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ gross domestic product measure.”

LA Unified, the second largest district in the nation, fared a little better than the state, compared with other districts. Out of the top 100 largest school districts, LA Unified ranked 25th, with per-pupil spending tagged at $10,675. Boston led the way with $20,502 spent per pupil.

While it makes for an interesting comparison, per-pupil spending by state is not always an equal playing field. According to the Washington Post:

Part of the variation is due to the huge differences in costs of living nationwide, which influence everything from teacher salaries to the cost of building and maintaining school facilities. Part is also due to economic realities — many states’ education spending remains lower than it was before the recession.

Despite California and LA Unified’s mediocre-at-best placements, the ranking should look vastly different in the coming few years. Gov. Jerry Brown‘s proposed 2015-16 budget has targeted billions more in education spending as revenues have soared. If passed, the budget would increase spending to roughly $13,000 per student, according to the Sacramento Bee.

At that level, California would have ranked behind only 12 other states on this year’s list.

*Corrects to say LA Unified is second-largest school district in the country.


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