Number of the Day: 3

May 26, 2011 | Number of The Day

New Jersey ranks third in the country for per-pupil spending on elementary/secondary public education, according to the U.S. Census, which assembled a report of average educational spending nationwide in the 2008-2009 school year. New Jersey’s $16,277 per-pupil spending ranked third after New York ($18,126) and the District of Columbia ($16,408.)

Utah had the lowest spending at $6,356 per pupil, followed by Idaho ($7,000) and Arizona $7,800). Pennsylvania ranked 12th, spending $12,512 per pupil.

The biggest cost in terms of spending in New Jersey was no surprise — instructional wages and benefits, which were both higher than average. New Jersey teacher salaries were $9,900 per pupil, compared with $10,704 for New York, $6,092 for California, $7,232 for Pennsylvania, $6,916 for Delaware and only $3,854 for Utah.

Benefits also varied dramatically, with New Jersey budgeting $3,570 for benefits, while New York tallied $4,444; Delaware, $3,021; California, $1,976; and Pennsylvania $2,531. Utah teacher benefits cost $1,594.

Of course, these figures might look somewhat different this school year, since the data was recorded before last year’s statewide budget cuts.