News Story

New State Data Shows Michigan Public Schools Spent Record Amount Per-Student

Michigan public schools received and spent more money per pupil in 2008-2009 than in any previous year for which figures are available, according to new data from the Michigan Department of Education.

Combined taxes from local, state and federal sources pumped $19.59 billion in the public school system last year. This gross receipts figure was actually down $200 million from the previous year, but since the number of students dropped by an unprecedented 31,000 from 2007-2008, the amount of money spent per student increased by $200, to just over $13,000.

Per-pupil spending for instructional salaries and benefits rose by 3.1 and 3.7 percent, respectively. Overall instructional costs increased by 3.9 percent. School administration costs also increased: On a per-pupil basis, salaries and benefits paid to principals were each up by 2 percent, and overall spending on superintendents and top administrators increased slightly.

The only areas where schools spent less per pupil was on transportation (down 1.6 percent) and "other support services," which includes things like human resources and business office personnel (down less than 1 percent).

The same pattern emerges when looking back a bit further. In the 2003-2004 school year, gross receipts were also higher - about $20.5 billion after adjusting for inflation. But enrollment was nearly 100,000 greater than it is now, so spending per-pupil was lower.

In the just-completed school year (for which final per-pupil figures are not yet available) state and local tax school receipts were down slightly, both in the aggregate and on a per-pupil basis. However, some $2.2 billion in federal money - a portion of which was temporary "stimulus" spending - made up for these small decreases.

The data are sortable by district and available online at:


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.