The New Jersey Department of Education recently released the 2022 Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending to help New Jersey residents and interested citizens learn more about the spending practices of school districts across the state.
“The Taxpayer’s Guide to Education Spending demonstrates our collective commitment to providing members of the public with a clear and transparent report of local budgeting,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, acting commissioner of education. “This guide can be a helpful first step in discussions that residents have with their local school officials about school-spending needs.”
For the 2021-2022 school year, the average budgetary cost per pupil was $18,208. This represents the state average for districts that serve students in preschool through grade 12, charter schools, county vocational school districts and county special services school districts. The budgetary cost per pupil calculation excludes costs that aren’t directly comparable from district-to-district, such as transportation, payments on school-construction debt and tuition for out-of-district programs. The 2021-2022 budgeted amount is an increase of $1,385 (8.2%) over districts’ average actual spending from the prior year.
The budgetary cost per pupil matches the advertised per-pupil costs provided to the public in each school district’s user-friendly budget.
The guide also groups school districts by size and the grade levels they serve, and ranks them in 17 spending categories, such as total administrative costs and total classroom instruction, as well as in staff indicators such as student/teacher ratios and ratios of faculty to administrative staff.
The Taxpayers’ Guide to Education Spending also provides a measure of total spending per pupil, which includes the budgetary costs, plus all other district expenditures, including tuition payments for students sent out of district, lunch programs covered by student fees, transportation for public and nonpublic students and pension payments made by the state on behalf of school districts. The latest available total spending per pupil, which is for the 2020-2021 school year, is $24,543, an increase of $1,618 (7.1%) from the prior year.