School Funding Breakdown

Where exactly do our schools get their money? While everyone knows that public schools are, by definition, government-funded, the specific sources of that income have been a relative unknown. To answer this question, we need only look to the annual “The Condition of Education” report from National Center for Education Statistics. Some of the results may surprise you.

Of the three types of public funding – federal, state and local – the smallest contributor to school funding in the last 20 years has been federal. State and local funds contribute about equally (~45 percent each) to the nation’s public schools, with a wide variation state-to-state in the percentage breakdown. For example, Vermont and Hawaii schools receive over 80 percent of their funding from the state, while Illinois had the highest contribution from local sources at 61 percent.

Voicing concerns over a lack of funding has risen to louder levels every year, yet many don’t know in which direction to send their complaints. One of the most glaring statistics in this year’s report may offer a better target: your state government. Between the 2007- 08 and 2008 – 09 school years, state contributions to school declined by $9.7 billion, the largest decline in a single year since World War II.

So remember, if you want to protest about decreasing education funds, start local and work your way upwards from there.


One Response to “School Funding Breakdown”

  1. IdebenoneJanuary 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    School budgets and the ways they are financed vary from state to state and school district to school district. Generally, though, states use a combination of income taxes, corporate taxes, sales taxes, and fees to provide about 48 percent of the budget for elementary and secondary schools. Local districts contribute around 44 percent, drawn mostly from local property taxes. And the federal government antes up approximately 8 percent of state education budgets (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). Altogether, these funds are distributed to school districts on a per-pupil basis (to ensure there is enough to cover each child’s education) and categorically (to ensure there is enough for each special program or facility).