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Interactive Map: Per-Pupil School Spending

Colleen O'Dea | April 12, 2013

Total Spent Per Pupil

Less than $16,000

$16,000 - $17,000

$17,000 - $18,000

$18,000 - $20,000

More than $20,000

The total amount spent per pupil by district in the 2011-12 school year by elementary and K-12 districts. The darker the color, the higher the spending. For high school districts, see the companion map. For charter and special services districts, see the spreadsheet below. To get individual information on a district -- including its comparative per pupil spending, total budgeted amount and spending on classroom instruction -- zoom in and click on it.

Source: N.J. Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending.

Total education spending in the average New Jersey school district rose by 4.2 percent to $18,047 per pupil last year, but six districts spent more than $30,000 per student, according to the new Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending.

The state Department of Education released the guide on Wednesday, as it put out revamped school performance reports that have replaced the school report card. Per-pupil spending had been included in the school report cards, but DOE officials changed their form and removed all districtwide data, including financial data, saying the public should get spending data instead from the Taxpayers’ Guide.

By far the biggest total school tab is in the city of Newark’s public school district, which spent a little more than $1 billion to educate 43,322 students in 2011-2012, or $23,160 per pupil. That total was up about 4.3 percent over the previous year. Three other districts -- Jersey City, Paterson, and Elizabeth -- spent more than $500 million each.

But the large city districts did not spend the most per pupil. The state’s eight special-services districts, which oversee education for special-needs students -- at least some of whom need one-to-one assistance -- have the highest bills. The Bergen County Special Services District spent $87,588 for each of its 695 students last year.

Of the typical districts, smaller elementary schools also had some of the highest per pupil costs in the state because they educate fewer students. Avalon had the eighth-highest per-pupil cost, the highest for any nonspecial district, spending $41,656 for each of its 114 students in grades K-8.

Source: NJ Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending

Because total spending can vary dramatically among districts for reasons not always related to education, the guide also includes a budgetary per pupil cost, formerly known as the comparative cost because it is a better measure for comparing spending among districts. The budgetary cost does not include such spending as pension and Social Security payments made by the state on behalf of districts, along with transportation costs, food services, tuition, debt service and several other items. Last year, the average budgetary cost per pupil in the state was $13,735, about three-quarters of the total cost. This year, that amount is anticipated to be $14,506, an increase of about 5.6 percent.

Source: NJ Taxpayers' Guide to Education Spending

The guide also includes breakdowns of per pupil spending by such categories as classroom instruction, support services, administration, legal services and maintenance. It also includes median salary data, although that is not in the 2013 guide yet.

View the Interactive Map on High School Spending

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