pennsylvania public school spending

Pa. Public Schools Spend More Per Child Than the National Average

Harrisburg, Pa., August 22, 2023 — Pennsylvania per-student education spending is the seventh highest in the nation, according to a new report that analyzes education trends.

According to the Commonwealth Foundation report, Pennsylvania provided $21,263 per student during the 2021–22 school year, a 37.6 percent increase since 2013 and more than $5,500 above the national average.

Despite record education spending—reaching nearly $15.5 billion for the 2023–24 school year—public school enrollment has declined by 139,000 students, or 7.7 percent, since 2000. The report notes, “The number of parents choosing to homeschool their children has dramatically increased, fueled, in large part, by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

”Students heading back to school will see more adults despite fewer students,” said Commonwealth Foundation Director of Policy Elizabeth Stelle. “While enrollment declined, public schools have added more than 21,000 employees since 2000, including a 40 percent increase among non-teaching administrative roles.”

“School districts have fewer students, but more teachers, more administrators, more support staff, and significantly larger reserve funds,” the report notes. “The issue isn’t a lack of money, but how it is distributed.”

The report urges state lawmakers to ensure education funding “follows the child, not the building.”

You can read the full Commonwealth Foundation report here and examine the local district reserve funds here.


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