Census Education Finance Data for FY 2014 (Compared with FY 2002)

The Census Bureau’s annual education finance data was released for FY 2014 on Friday June 11. The data shows that NYC spent $24,004 per student that year, slightly below the average of the Downstate Suburbs ($25,041) but far higher than the average for New Jersey ($19,636), Connecticut ($19,388), Massachusetts ($16,884) and Maryland ($15,812).   The Northeast Corridor is a generally high wage, high cost of living area. Even adjusting for this, however, New York City’s average adjusted expenditure per student, at $18,764, was nearly 50 percent higher than the U.S. average of $12,625. On an unadjusted basis New York City spent $14,665 per student on instructional (mostly teacher) wages, salaries and benefits alone, or $293,300 per 20 students and $175,980 per 12 students. And this was at a time when the contract for NYC teachers had been expired for years; spending has soared since, as a result of retroactive pay for past years including FY 2014.

One finds the same pattern for Upstate New York. There, spending averaged $19,428 per student in urban counties and $20,490 per student in rural counties. This compares with the U.S. average of $12,625, the Ohio average of $12,907, and the Pennsylvania average of $16,585, and the Vermont average of $20,488. Links to detailed spreadsheets with data for every school district in New York and New Jersey, and per-student revenues and expenditures by category of revenue and expenditure, follow a discussion of where the data comes from and how it was compiled. As is my custom, I’m going to provide the spreadsheets now, think about them for a while, and then provide my analysis and express my opinion. If you want the facts without the opinion, this is the post for you.

The data, direct from the Census Bureau, may be found here.


With a PDF report here.


The key report tables are 11, per pupil spending by category and state, and 12, spending per $1,000 of personal income (which also adjusts for differences in the relative cost of living). Along with table 18, per pupil expenditures of the 100 largest school districts. But I download the detailed data to get information on every school district in NY and NJ.

I download the “All Data Items” spreadsheet to get some information that isn’t available in the individual unit file, notable wages and salaries, benefits and other expenditures for the non-instructional category in total. The data is fairly easy to work with, and the spreadsheets provided below took me fewer than three hours to prepare.

Unlike the data in the Census Bureau’s report, which mostly focuses on “current expenditures,” I also include capital expenditures and interest payments. Private school payments, and payments to private charter school operators, are excluded from per student spending because their students are not included in the Census Bureau’s fall student count. According to the Census Bureau, charter schools chartered by state and local governments are supposed to be included in the general data, with their revenues and expenditures reported by category (teacher wages, food services, etc.) rather than in the aggregate. Their enrollment is also reported. Also excluded from the per-student figures in my tabulation are non-elementary and secondary school expenditures: adult education for example. You can see the formulae in the spreadsheets to see how I changed things.

Within New York State, as I define them, the “Downstate Suburbs” are Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam Counties. The “Upstate Urban” counties are Albany, Broome (Binghamton), Duchess, Erie (Buffalo), Monroe (Rochester), Niagara, Oneida Utica), Onondaga (Syracuse), Orange, Rensselaer (Troy), Saratoga and Schenectady. The “Rest of New York State” is mostly rural and small town, but includes small cities such as Elmira, Jamestown, Cortland, Oneonta, Amsterdam, etc.

I also provide data for the states adjacent to New York, Oklahoma to provide a “Red State” comparison, Ohio, a state that is in some ways similar to Upstate New York, and Maryland, also on the Northeast Corridor.

I adjust for the cost of living in some areas. In high-wage, high-cost areas, more must be spent to provide teachers and other education professionals with a comparable standard of living, relative to the U.S. average. But the capacity to pay higher taxes is also greater there. I adjust spending per student downward on the on the Northeast Corridor to remove this excuse for expensive spending.

And adjust spending per student upward in Oklahoma for the same reason, to remove the excuse that lower spending is fair because the cost of living and ability to pay taxes are lower there. Revenues and expenditures per student are provided both with and without the cost of living adjustment. In the detailed spreadsheet, the rows with a cost of living adjustment carry an “*” next to the name of the area.

The cost of living adjustments are based on the average private sector wage, excluding the overpaid finance and insurance sector in places where it skews the numbers: Downstate New York and Connecticut. In 2012, according to Employment and Wages data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the payroll per private sector worker in Downstate New York (finance excluded) was 27.9% above the U.S. average. Since 1/1.279 is 0.782, adjusted figures for New York City and the Downstate Suburbs are multiplied by 0.782 to make them comparable with the U.S. average.

All the figures for individual school districts in Downstate New York and New Jersey provided with similar adjustments, along with the statewide totals for New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For Oklahoma, the average private sector worker only earned 85.9% of the U.S. average per student revenues and expenditures there are also provided multiplied by 1.163.

The private employment and payroll data used to make adjustments for the cost of living, with data for each year from 2001 to 2014, is here.


These adjustments are provided to make these areas more fairly comparable with the U.S. average. Since for some adjustments may raise questions, however, I also provide a comparison of unadjusted data on a “comparable state” basis.   In this comparison, Upstate New York is held to be comparable with Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Vermont. Downstate New York is held to be comparable with Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland.

The spreadsheet with data for all areas and items in FY 2014 exceeds the maximum size for Room Eight. You either have to read the post on Saying the Unsaid in New York and download from there,

Census Education Finance Data for FY 2014 (Compared with FY 2002)

or download direct from the media library there by copying and pasting this link.


I tried it, and it works.

Data items include instructional and non-instructional spending, in total and on wages and salaries and benefits, along with non-instructional spending by category on pupil support, instructional staff support, general administration (office of the superintendent and central staff, school administration (office of the principal and other school-based administrators, operation and maintenance of plant (including the custodians, student transportation, and food services. Along with capital expenditure, interest payments, and debt outstanding.

The state level data shows that New York State’s school spending was very high in FY 2014, however measured, but there is some variation within the state. Some give this as a reason that spending is unfairly low, despite the high statewide average. This spreadsheet provides formulas for NY state school districts converted to values to allow all the data to be blocked and sorted. Copy and past this link to download from Saying the Unsaid in New York.


The data shows that in FY 2014, the NY state school district with the lowest per student spending was the General Brown School District, up in the North Country near Watertown, at $12,814. That was still above the U.S. average of $12,625. Per student spending on instructional wages, salaries and benefits was also the lowest in the state there, at $7,664. That was 30.5% higher than the U.S. average of $5,872, however. There were, in reality, no school districts with low per student spending in NY State in FY 2014. The variation was between somewhat high and extremely high. Meanwhile, the Kiryas Joel school district spent $196,541 per student overall in FY 2014, topping the state. The Wainscott Common School District was next at $155,600.

In New York City, FY 2014 was the last fiscal year under a budget proposed by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the first NYC Mayor to gain Mayoral control of the NYC schools. The last budget of the previous Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, was FY 2002, and the comparison between those two years is the focus of this analysis. A spreadsheet identical to the one for FY 2002, with all data for all areas, is also on Saying the Unsaid in New York, with a URL to be copied and pasted here.


However the value of a dollar changed between FY 2002 and FY 2014 as a result of inflation. To put FY 2002 per student revenue and expenditures into $2014, based on the Consumer Price index, one has to multiply by 1.315931073. This spreadsheet provides an inflation-adjusted FY 2002 to FY 2014 comparison for the U.S., NYC, other regions of NY State and other states for all data items.  Copy and paste the link to download if you are reading this on Room Eight.


Despite cutbacks in education services in the wake of the Great Recession, the data shows that total per student spending increased 3.8% in the U.S. from FY 2002 to FY 2014. The increase for NYC, however, was 36.5% — even though the teacher contracts were unsettled in the latter year, leading to soaring spending since. The NYC increase was far higher than the increase for the Downstate Suburbs (21.9%), Upstate urban counties (22.4%), Upstate rural counties (15.2%), New Jersey (13.5%), Connecticut (27.0%), Massachusetts (11.0%), Maryland (21.0%), Ohio (2.3%), Pennsylvania (12.3%) or Vermont (11.2%).

To pay for this property taxes were increased 18.0% (over and above the increasing value of assessments), state income taxes were increased (the $millionaire’s tax passed in the recession and then retained), and other services were cut. Or so it was reported. It will be possible to analyze the actual change in NYC revenues and expenditures per $1,000 of city residents’ personal income, by category, when the Census Bureau’s general state and local government finance data is released later this year.

Focusing on instructional (mostly teachers), wages, salaries and benefits alone, New York City’s inflation-adjusted per student costs increased 47.2% adjusted for inflation from FY 2002 to FY 2014 – with more to come as the retroactive teach contract signed by the income DeBlasio Administration is paid for and the need for additional funding to pay for the retroactive pension increases of 1995, 2000 and 2008 is acknowledged. This at a time when the compensation of most U.S. workers has been falling relative to inflation, or increasing little.   Since the recession even many of those on Wall Street have seen falling pay.

Instructional (mostly teachers), wages, salaries and benefits per student increased just 6.3% in the U.S,’ adjusted for inflation, from FY 2002 to FY 2014, compared with 34.5% in the Downstate Suburbs, 27.5% in the Upstate urban counties, 29.8% in the Upstate rural counties, 20.1% in New Jersey, 21.3% in Connecticut, 18.2% in Massachusetts, 23.2% in Maryland, 8.1% in Ohio, 24.3% in Pennsylvania and 23.1% in Vermont.

The cost of living adjusted data is slightly different. While private sector workers (excluding finance) were about as well off relative to the U.S. average in FY 2014 as in FY 2002 in Downstate New York and Massachusetts, the gap shrunk for New Jersey and Connecticut. Thus while per student spending on instructional wages and benefits increased by 20.1% in Ne Jersey from FY 2002 to FY 2014, the increase adjusted for differences in the average private sector wage/cost of living was up 25.7%.

In all these areas the increases in instructional wages and salaries per student, adjusted for inflation, were much smaller than the increase in total compensation, while the increase in spending on benefits was huge. The reason is the national state and local government pension crisis, caused by retroactive pension increases for teachers – who were already receiving far richer pensions that most workers – in some areas, underfunding of the pensions teachers had been promised to begin with in other areas, or a combination of both. While wages and salaries per student increased by more than inflation in the Northeast, with the largest increase in NYC, there was an actual decrease of 2.4% for the U.S as a whole.

Non-instructional spending follows the same pattern. Restrained inflation-adjusted increases, and at the national level a decrease, in wages and salaries per student, with a huge increase in spending on benefits.

For three data items: total expenditures per student, and total instructional wages, salaries and benefits per student, plus total debts per student I produced another spreadsheet with data on the inflation adjusted change for every individual school district in New York and New Jersey. With and without an adjustment for the cost of living. Data on school enrollment for each area and district for the two years, and the change between them, is also provided.  For every school district in New York and New Jersey, one can find the inflation-adjusted change in total expenditures per student, debt per student, instructional compensation per student, and enrollment by copying and pasting this URL.


The data shows that in nearly all New York State school districts instructional wages, salaries and benefits per student increased more from FY 2002 to FY 2014, adjusted for inflation, than the U.S. average of 6.3%. In nine districts, however, per student expenditures in this category actually fell. These districts accounted for 11,837 of the state’s 2.6 million students.

Overall enrollment increased 2.6% in the U.S. But it fell 5.8% in New York City, 1.7% in the Downstate Suburbs, 11.2% in Upstate urban counties, and 17.2% in Upstate rural counties. And fell by 6.0% in Connecticut, 4.1% in Massachusetts, 9.1% in Pennsylvania, and 8.7% in Vermont. New Jersey had a 0.6% increase.

The detailed FY 2002 to FY 2014 comparison I made for these data items could be made, by others, for any data item in the FY 2002 and FY 2014 spreadsheets. But first the data would need to be converted to values (copy, paste special), and lined up (8 districts in New York and 27 in New Jersey disappeared from FY 2002 to FY 2014 and a couple were added). And the FY 2002 data has to be increased for inflation.

Commentary and charts will follow when I have time.

But for now what I’d prefer is that at least some people download the spreadsheets and look at the data for themselves. And better yet trace the data as downloaded back to the original source, to assure yourself that (unlike many involved in public policy, particularly those working for pay) I don’t make this stuff up.



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