Arkansas’ pre-K through 12th grade school systems spent $10,139 per pupil from state, local and federal sources in fiscal year 2018, an increase of 1.7% from the year before, according to numbers released May 11 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Arkansas’ public schools spent more than $5.626 billion including $4.9 billion in current spending and $576 million in capital outlays, according to the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of School System Finances. School systems had $4.8 billion in debt at the end of the year.
Salaries, wages and benefits composed the majority of school spending in Arkansas, totaling $3.65 billion. The cost per pupil of those expenses was $5,723, compared to a national average of $7,650.
The state’s schools had $5.562 billion in revenues. Of that, $4.2 billion, or 76%, came from state sources. Another $745 million, or 13.4%, came from local sources, while $589 million, or 10.6%, came from federal sources.
The bulk of local revenues, $465 million, came from property taxes.
Arkansas spent $9,967 per pupil in 2017. Spending increased 1.2% that year from the year before. In 2016, it increased 1.6% after increasing 0.8% in 2015. It increased 2.4% in 2014 from 2013.
The Census Bureau reported that the state educated 479,959 public school students pre-K through 12th grade in 2018. According to the Arkansas Department of Education’s website, 479,432 students are enrolled in Arkansas K-12 schools in 2019-20. That number does not include pre-K students.
Per pupil spending nationally was $12,612 in 2018. Arkansas had the 38th highest per pupil spending. The figures did not take into account cost of living differences.
Spending nationally increased 3.4% from 2017, when it was $12,201 per pupil. New York spent the most per pupil, $24,040, followed by the District of Columbia, $22,759. Utah spent the least, $7,628.
School system revenues in 2018 increased 3.8% from the year before, to $720.9 billion from $694.3 billion. State governments contributed $337 billion, or 46.7% of public school system funding.
The federal government contributed 7.7% of federal revenues to the nation’s public school systems. Massachusetts received the lowest percentage, 3.9%. Alaska received the highest percentage, 15.8%, followed by Mississippi at 13.8%. In round numbers, Arkansas and West Virginia were tied for the 12th highest percentage at 10.6%.
There were 48.6 million students enrolled in the nation’s public elementary-secondary school systems in the fall of 2017. New York City by far had the nation’s largest system with 976,771 students enrolled in the 2018 fiscal year. That means one in 50 public school students nationwide was in the New York City system.
It was followed by the Los Angeles Unified system with 621,414 students. Chicago was third with 373,700 students.