New Jersey Tops In Education Spending Per Student


New Jersey led states in the amount of money spent per student on elementary and secondary education for 1997, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In a report entitled The 1997 Census of Governments, Public Education Finances, the Garden State beat out New York, Alaska and Connecticut. States that ranked lowest in public grade and high school spending per student were Idaho, South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi and Utah.The 1997 Census of Governments, Public Education Finances

States that ranked lowest in public grade and high school spending per student were Idaho, South Dakota, Arizona, Mississippi and Utah.

In 1997, the last year for which complete figures are available, New Jersey spent $9,461 per student -- nearly twice the national average. New York spent $8,467; Alaska, $8,213; and Connecticut, $7,998. These same states led the nation in spending per student in 1996 as well.

Spending the least were Idaho at $4,415 per student, South Dakota at $4,392, Arizona at $4,334, Mississippi at $4,035 and Utah at $3,810. Utah was last in per student spending in 1996 as well.

The national average of per student spending in 1997 was $5,873.

The new report was made public on June 21.

While the highest and lowest ranked states on money spent per student did not see dramatic changes from 1996, the trend in the last four years has been an increase in state rather than local government spending on education, according to Sharon Meade, social science analyst with the Census Bureau.

"There is a trend for the states to try to make spending on education more equitable among the school districts. So it appears that some states are backing away from their property taxes in favor of some kind of a formula ... where the state would decide which areas should have how much money," Meade said.

New Jersey is trying this approach, and that's probably why they're pouring a lot more money into the schools, she told

The 1997 numbers show that state governments were the biggest spenders on public education across the board. State government contributions accounted for 49 percent of the total funding ($150 billion), while local governments picked up most of the remaining tab at 45 percent ($138 billion). Federal funding accounted for only 6 percent ($20 billion) of elementary and secondary school funding.

Meade also said spending on school construction has increased over the past few years. National school construction expenditures topped $18 billion in 1996; in 1997 that number had increased to $22 billion. The 1997 report shows that four states--New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan--all borrowed more than $1.5 billion for building construction, reconstruction and refinancing.


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