State’s per pupil spending rose coming out of pandemic, NCES report finds

California was among the three states with the most significant increases in per pupil expenditures between fiscal years 2021 and 2022, according to a first look report on public school revenues and expenditures released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in May.

Considering inflation, the state’s per pupil expenditures increased 6.3 percent from $15,751 to $16,739, topped only by Louisiana and North Carolina. Throughout the nation in FY 2022, spending per student ranged from $9,496 in Utah to $29,284 in New York. On average, states spent $15,591 per pupil — a 1.8 percent increase from FY 2021.

Total revenue per pupil, adjusted for inflation, was $20,596 in California and $18,461 on average in the U.S. — a 1.3 percent increase from the previous period. The state served just under 6 million public school students in 2021–22.

In FY 2022, California’s total revenues topped $121 million, of which more than $66 million came from the state, $38 million from local and roughly $17 million from federal governments.

At the national level, “total revenues increased by 1.3 percent after adjusting for inflation (from $897.2 to $909.2 billion) from FY 21 to FY 22, local revenues decreased by 2 percent (from $391.1 to $383.5 billion), state revenues decreased by 2.6 percent (from $411.3 to $400.8 billion), and federal revenues increased by 31.8 percent (from $94.8 to $124.9 billion),” according to the report.

“Current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education across the nation increased by 1.8 percent between FY 21 and FY 22, after adjusting for inflation (from $754 to $767.8 billion),” the report explains “Within that increase, expenditures for instruction decreased by -0.2 percent (from $457.7 to $457 billion), and student support services expenditures increased by 4.9 percent between FY 21 and FY 22, after adjusting for inflation (from $48.9 to $51.2 billion).”

In California, expenditures for public elementary and secondary education totaled around $114 million with $10.5 million identified as capital outlay expenses.

By category, expenditures in California public education expenditures totaled $98.6 million including $57 million on instruction, $38 million on overall support services, $9 million on operations and maintenance, $8 million on student support services, $6 million on instructional staff support, $6 million on school administration and $3 million on food services.

Almost $53 million was spent on salaries and wages in California and $25 million funded employee benefits.

The report also includes data on expenditures from Title I funds and revenues and expenditures related to COVID-19 federal assistance.

“In FY 22, current expenditures from federal Title I grants for economically disadvantaged students (including carryover expenditures) accounted for $15.6 billion, or 2 percent of current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education,” the report found. On average, per pupil expenditures by states were $316. In California, which received $98.6 million, it was $351.

Revenues from COVID relief aid for schools was $43.2 billion in FY 2022, this includes Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, Governor’s Emergency Education Relief, Coronavirus Relief and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds. An estimated $6.5 million made its way through California.

Total expenditures paid from relief dollars was $38.1 billion nationally and $13 million in California.