Originally published in Issue 1 - Jan 29, 1997

Per Pupil Spending Down

Rising student enrollment and the City’s gap closing measures have brought inflation-adjusted per pupil spending to its lowest level since 1988. Although spending fluctuated in the intervening years, the Board of Education spent an inflation-adjusted $7,232 per student in 1988 compared to $7,021 in 1996. The City’s share of funding, also at its lowest level since 1988, fell from an inflation-adjusted $3,165 per student in 1988 to $2,805 in 1996. Student enrollment has risen by 120,000 students since 1990.

The City’s current budget includes a 4.4 percent increase in Board of Education spending. Given continuing increases in student enrollment, however, per pupil spending is expected to rise by a more modest 3.1 percent. Spending increases include $70 million recently earmarked by the Mayor for textbooks.

Per pupil spending is only one input in the educational process. The burgeoning public school population, combined with increasing special education costs, means that the City’s general education classes could be squeezed even more than IBO’s analysis suggests. Further study of educational outcomes will be necessary to fully evaluate the impact of spending trends.

Aportion of IBO's analysis was reported in the January 14th edition of the New York Times. A briefing paper on this issue can be obtained by calling IBO.