WV Center on Budget and Policy > Blog > Education > More On Education Spending

More On Education Spending

Following up on my previous post on education spending, here are some more data on the issue. Last time, I broke down the state’s per pupil spending into several categories, and made comparisons to spending nationwide. I found that for the most part, education spending in West Virginia is about on par with spending nationally, with a few notable exceptions: 

Function (2010) WV U.S. Difference WV Rank
Total $11,527 $10,600 $927 17
Instruction – Salaries and Wages $3,821 $4,277 -$455 32
Instruction – Benefits $2,490 $1,468 $1,023 3
Instruction – Other $646 $682 -$36 22
Pupil Support Services $499 $578 -$78 31
Instructional Staff Support Services $404 $501 -$98 36
General Administration $222 $194 $27 25
School Administration $595 $562 $33 17
Operation & Maintenance $1,131 $986 $145 13
Pupil Transportation $815 $448 $366 3
Other Support Services $185 $354 -$169 43
All Other Functions $719 $550 $169 7

Now let’s look at the same categories, but this time from 2000 instead of 2010

Function (2000) WV US Difference WV Rank
Total $7,093 $6,836 $257 17
Instruction – Salaries and Wages $2,886 $3,027 -$142 23
Instruction – Benefits $1,153 $761 $393 5
Instruction – Other $256 $376 -$120 44
Pupil Support Services $228 $330 -$101 44
Instructional Staff Support Services $201 $306 -$105 45
General Administration $181 $135 $46 18
School Administration $383 $383 -$1 26
Operation & Maintenance $726 $650 $76 13
Pupil Transportation $455 $280 $175 4
Other Support Services $95 $212 -$117 44
All Other Functions $529 $377 $152 4

As you can see, West Virginia’s overall rank is unchanged at 17, and while we rank high in benefits and transportation expenditures, we rank low- or mid-range for most other categories. And as for which areas are growing the fastest, it comes as no surprise:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Total per pupil spending in West Virginia has grown faster than the rest of the country, however, West Virginia remains 17th overall. Instruction Benefits has been the fastest growing category both nationally and in West Virginia, with spending in West Virginia outpacing spending nationwide, due in part to the unfunded liability pay down. Support service spending, both pupil and instructor, has grown faster in West Virginia than it has nationwide, but West Virginia still spends $345 less per pupil than what is spent nationally in this category. Pupil transportation spending has also grown faster in West Virginia than it has nationally.

Instruction salaries (which is the biggest piece of the pie), on the other hand, has grown slower in West Virginia than it has nationally. The gap in per pupil instruction salary spending between the national average and WV has grown from $142 in 2000 to $445 in 2010. Other categories have experienced relatively similar growth.

2 Responses to “More On Education Spending”

  1. Tim McClung says:


    I have digested both of your blog posts regarding education spending. Do you have any way of comparing how one school allocates $ vs. another school. For example, how are $ spent comparing GW High School vs. Riverside or Watts Elementary vs. Overbrook Elementary. I am not talking about the aggregate per pupil spending but how the $ are actually spent. Does an English class at GW cost more than an English class at SCHS?

    Also, do you have any estimates on what % of a school’s budget is controlled by district or state policy vs. discretionary?

    • Sean O'Leary Sean O'Leary says:


      I’m not aware of any way to compare individual schools, only school districts, and even then, it would be on an aggregate level.

      As for your second question, the answer is a little complicated. The state sets a minimum amount that each school district should spend through the school aid formula, which calculates funding for personnel salaries, transportation, technology, and instructional programs based on enrollment and population density. He can see the steps of the formuala here – http://wvde.state.wv.us/finance/pssp/2013-2014/#

      About 80% of what each school district raises through their regular school property tax is subtracted from the total calculated by the school aid formula, with the state making up the difference. The property tax rate for each school district is set by the state and is uniform throughout he state, so there is little discretion there. In 2010 the state’s share was $1.1 billion, and the local share totaled $370 million, so it was about a 75/25 split. So while school districts control about 25% of their basic funding, the formula still tells them where to spend it.

      The school districts do have discretion over money raised through excess levies. Most school districts do use excess levies to raise additional funds, and the amount raised through the excess levies is not included in the school aid formula. School distrcits can use the excess levy money however they want, but the excess levies have to be approved at the ballot every few years.

      In 2010, school excess levies brought in $434 million, so overall, the state controls about 50% of school funding, the school districts control about 25%, and the remainder is local money, but the state controls how much can be raised and how it is spent. For districts without excess levies, the state controls a greater share.


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