More Students, More Money: Trends in NYC School Funding

Funding for New York City public schools in fiscal year 1999 was $775 million higher than the previous year. According to the Comptroller's annual financial report released this month, nearly $10.5 billion was spent by the Board of Education (BOE), including $9.6 billion for the BOE expense budget and an additional $820 million for debt service and pension contributions. Public school funding was $9.7 billion after subtracting an estimated $690 million that passed through BOE to non-public schools.

As shown in the table below, BOE funding including debt service and pension contributions increased each year throughout the 1990s. Total funds committed to BOE increased by $1.7 billion during the first seven years of the decade (27 percent) and another $1.6 billion (19 percent) in the past two years. The larger increases in 1998 and 1999 were due to boosts from all major funding sources: city, state and federal. Although total spending increased by 46 percent during the decade, enrollment increased by 16 percent over the same period. The resulting rise in per pupil spending was 30 percent for the 1990 through 1999 period.

Examining funding in real 1999 (inflation- adjusted) dollars shows that total BOE expenditures, including debt service and pension contributions, declined from $9,386 per pupil in 1990 to $8,401 in 1997, an average annual decline of 1.6 percent. Annual enrollment growth averaged almost 20,000 students during those seven years, but has since slowed. Since 1997 real per pupil spending has increased by an average of 6.7 percent per year to reach $9,560 in 1999, the highest level of the decade.

State, federal, and other categorical aid made up 57.1 percent of BOE revenues in 1999 with city funds contributing 42.9 percent. The city's share of funding for BOE operations has remained roughly constant over the past decade.

For more information about education funding trends, contact Robert Weiner, a senior budget and policy analyst at IBO, at (212) 442-0332.