How do California school district expenditures compare with those of districts in other states?
In percentage terms, school districts throughout the country spend their funds in relatively similar ways, directing about:
- Two-thirds of their budgets toward instruction—mostly salaries and benefits for teachers.
- 18% toward operations—maintenance, transportation, and food services.
- 11% toward administration of schools and districts, along with other administrative support services.
- 5% toward student support services—counseling, health, and other services.
California's spending patterns are similar to the rest of the country
When spending is put in absolute dollar (as opposed to percentage) terms, small differences between California and other states narrow further or widen, depending on the total spent. For example, a difference of one percentage point in spending on administration (11.8% in California vs. 10.8% in the nation as a whole) is relatively minor in dollar terms because average total spending per pupil is greater in the country as a whole. The figure below shows that, on a per-pupil basis, California districts spend $1,141 on administration, while districts across the country spend an average of $1,109—a difference of $32.
Distribution of School District Expenditures in Per-Pupil Dollars, 2007-08
Student support services (5% of California's spending in 2007-08) includes attendance, counseling, health, speech pathology, and other services.
Administration (11.8% in California) includes district and school administration and other support services.
Operations (16.3% in California) includes maintenance, student transportation, food services, and enterprise activities.
Instruction and instruction-related spending (67% in California) includes classroom instruction (e.g., teachers and teaching assistants), libraries, in-service teacher training, curriculum development, student assessment, and instruction technology.
Note: For each state, the sum of the components may not equal the total indicated because of rounding
Data: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)