With renewed discussion about how Alabama is second only to Wisconsin in cuts to spending on public education since 2008 (the zenith of public education spending in Alabama), I couldn’t help but wonder what the longer-term trend looked like. You know what they say about curiosity….
Well, here’s what I found: when viewed in constant 2009 dollars (what the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ GDP Deflator allows us to do using 2009 as the base), the statewide average per pupil expenditure (PPE) for FY2013 (the latest year for which we have final numbers) is not much more than what was spent in FY2001 and FY2002.
And that’s with five more instructional days in the school year and lots of new things on which to spend money.
Check this out. “Nominal $” means the dollar amounts you find in the reports. “Real $2009” shows the amounts adjusted for inflation. Click the titles to see the bars move.
What about city districts?
And county districts?
What Is Included in PPE?
Per Pupil Expenditure reflects all expenditures for Instructional Services, Instructional Support Services, Operation and Maintenance, Auxiliary Services, and General Administrative Services from all revenue sources (state, local and federal) divided by the total ADM (average daily membership) which is a calculation of how many students are in school. It does not include Debt Service or Capital Outlays.
How Much Funding Is Provided Through the State’s Foundation Program?
The State Foundation Program was designed to provide those parts of public education that Alabamians believed every child deserved. That means appropriate levels of staffing (principals, teachers, assistant principals, librarians, counselors, etc.), classroom materials, textbooks, professional development and money to support the business and maintenance side of schools.
Here’s a Guide to State Allocations from the current budget year if you’d like to see more detail about how the Foundation Program funding is calculated. The chart below clearly shows how the real dollar impact of the Foundation Program has declined since FY01. I don’t have the data to go back further than FY01.
The numbers in the chart above are for the Foundation Program only, and don’t include the line-item funding for Transportation and other specially-appropriated amounts that vary from year to year (and can thus be considered unreliable for sustaining education programs).
So here’s the chart with all of those specially-appropriated amounts included.
What About Revenues for the Education Trust Fund (ETF)? Are They About Equal to 2002 Levels Also?
Glad you asked. The ETF provides the state funding for public education (and higher education and a whole bunch of other agencies) in Alabama.
Here’s the chart for that. I had to go back and includes the 90’s to find levels comparable to FY13. What do you see?
OK. What About ETF Expenditures?
Remember that the ETF funds K-12 public education and higher education and other agencies in Alabama.
What Does This Mean?
Trying to be plain-spoken here. It means that Alabama’s FY13 (that was the 2012-2013 school year, basically) public school expenditures are at about the same level as they were 10 years earlier.
It means that the State Foundation Program is paying for less of a foundation per pupil than it has since before FY01.
It also means that Alabama’s ETF, the source of state funding for Alabama’s public schools, is taking in and spending at about the same level as it was in the mid-90’s.
Because the value of money changes from year to year, in order to compare apples to apples, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) provides various ways to deflate (or inflate), dollars taken in and spent.
I used the “Implicit Price Deflator” (IPD) applicable for state and local governments for the years of comparison, FY90 to FY13. The BEA uses 2009 as the base or index year.
The actual dollar amount reflected in the reports is called the “nominal” amount.
After applying the IPD to the nominal value (here’s a tutorial from Khan Academy), the resulting amount is called the “real” amount.
Then you are looking at apples and apples.