Rajashri Chakrabarti and Max Livingston
morning, the New York Fed released a set of interactive maps and charts illuminating school finances in New York and New
Jersey. These user-friendly graphics illustrate the progression of various
school finance indicators over time. They also make clear the large variability
in finances across districts and states.
The interactive maps and charts are
an exciting way to dive right into the data. Not only can you explore common trends,
such as funding spikes from the federal stimulus intended to combat the
recession, you can also zoom in on your own school district or any other
district of interest. The format also makes it easy to compare any school
finance indicator across school districts and states, at a certain point in
time or over time. These interactive visuals are based on data from
the New York Office of the State Comptroller, the New York Department of
Education, and the New Jersey Department of Education.
the coming months, we’ll be posting more in-depth analyses of these interesting
and important data. In the meantime, we offer a few quick insights and
suggestions for what to explore in the interactive graphics:
Overall school finances: School
funding and school expenditures have been increasing steadily throughout the 2000s,
both in New York and in New Jersey. Despite staying on trend through the
recession, they appear to be slowing down in the past year or two. But
districts across the states experience this very differently. For example,
Ripley School District in Chautauqua, New York, saw its per-pupil funding drop
by nearly $7,000 in 2012, while Taconic Hills Central School District in
Columbia, New York, saw an increase of nearly $5,000. In New Jersey, Clayton
Borough School District’s revenue fell by over $12,000, while Ringwood
Borough’s rose by over $9,000 in 2012.
Components of school funding: The
majority of school funding comes from three main sources: federal aid, state
aid, and local revenue. Out of the total of these three, local funding is the
main revenue source in both states, representing 57 percent in New York and 64 percent in New Jersey during our period of consideration. The state contributes
most of the remainder—39 percent in New York and 33 percent in New Jersey. Federal
funding constitutes the smallest piece of the pie. But one of the most striking
developments is the surge in the proportion coming from federal aid following the
federal stimulus—between 2008 and 2010, the share coming from the federal
government more than doubled in New York. (New Jersey also experienced an
increase, although not quite as dramatic.) There’s
a great deal of variation across districts in the composition of school funding
too. For example, 27 percent of the revenue of Lackawanna School District in
upstate New York came from local sources in 2012, 66 percent from the state,
and 7 percent from the federal government, while 95 percent of the funding for Scarsdale
School District in Westchester came from local sources, with less than 1 percent coming from the federal government.
Components of school expenditures: On
average, school districts allocate almost half of their budget to instructional
expenditures, with the remainder going to noninstructional expenditures (such
as instructional support, transportation, and utilities) and to “other
expenditures” (such as interest on debt and interdistrict transfers). However,
as the interactive maps show, this also varies a great deal between districts
as well as over time. For example, Springs School District in Suffolk County
has consistently allocated around 70 percent of its expenditures to
instruction, while Clifton-Fine Central School District has allocated between
25 and 32 percent to instruction for the past several years.
Understanding the dynamics of school
funding and expenditures is vital to ensuring that every child receives a
quality education. Stay tuned for future posts expanding on these issues.
The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.
Rajashri Chakrabarti is an economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.