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Interactive Map: How Much Do NJ Schools Spend for Supplies?

The percentage of regular budgetary spending on textbooks and classroom supplies per pupil in 2011-12, the most recent school year. The percentage calculation excludes transportation, equipment, pension and other costs that vary significantly among districts.

Source: NJ Department of Education

Textbooks, pencils, and paper are an integral part of education, yet the percentage of dollars spent on them in most New Jersey public schools is very small.

The 2012 Taxpayers Guide to Education Spending, released last month by the state Department of Education, shows that just 1.9 percent of the typical district's general spending per pupil paid for textbooks and classroom supplies in 2011-2012.

The average comparative cost per pupil, which includes most components of general spending, but omits items like pensions, tuition, and transportation -- which can differ widely among districts -- was $13,946.

The data show that charter schools, which are publicly funded but operate according to a state-granted charter, tend to devote a greater proportion of spending to texts and school supplies. On average, they spent 4.2 percent of their general budget, or $426 per student, on class supplies, which include calculators, microscopes, workbooks, chalk, paint, and laptops.

The biggest spenders were Hatikvah International and the Academy for Urban Leadership, both Middlesex County charter schools. They laid out more than 10 percent of their per-pupil budgets on class supplies. Both are relatively new schools, having opened in 2010-2011. Hatikvah, a dual-language English-Hebrew elementary school, budgeted $1,667 per pupil for books and other classroom items.

Vocational and elementary schools typically spent more than the state average. Regional high school districts spent the least -- just 1.7 percent of their general budgets, or $237 per student. About 30 districts spent less than 1 percent of their per-pupil budget on classroom supplies.

Spending on texts and class supplies does not necessarily correlate with district wealth. For instance, Harding, one of the state’s wealthiest communities, budgeted only 1.3 percent of general spending for class supplies or $253 per pupil. Newark, on the other hand, spent $430 per pupil, or 2.5 percent of general expenditures.

Overall, the greatest percentage of school spending pays for teacher salaries and benefits. On average, 56 percent of all general budget public education dollars, or $7,825 per pupil, went to pay the salaries and benefits of classroom teachers, aides, and substitutes.

This is the 15th year state education officials have released per-pupil spending figures. The release used to be called the Comparative Spending Guide, but the state changed the name last year when it began including state expenditures on behalf of districts.

On average, the total amount spent per pupil in New Jersey during 2010-2011 -- including pension, social security and post-retirement medical benefits, -- was $17,352. The 2011-2012 total was not reported. The other data for the past school year is the amount districts budgeted, rather than actually spent, since the information was compiled before districts closed the books on their spending for the year.

Click on a district to see how much was spent per pupil on classroom supplies; the total comparative general budget per pupil and enrollment; and how these numbers have changed over the past two years. If you cant find or see your individual district, view one of the maps below:

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