Hawaii’s public school system ranks 11th in the nation in per-pupil spending, with $12,399 spent per student on average in fiscal year 2009, U.S. Census figures released Wednesday show.
That was a 12 percent increase from the previous fiscal year, when per-pupil spending in Hawaii stood at $11,800, the 12th highest in the nation. In fiscal year 2007, Hawaii spent $11,060 on average per student, Census figures show.
Though Hawaii is near the front of the pack when it comes to per-pupil spending, state Department of Education officials say the increase in the 2009 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2009, probably was driven by rising costs for expenses, such as utilities.
SPENDING PER PUPIL
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
They also say the per-pupil spending doesn’t reflect the big hits the department has taken more recently because of the economic downturn.
"Due to Hawaii’s slow economic growth, the department has recently sustained major budget cuts," said DOE spokeswoman Sandy Goya. "Our downward spending trend should be evident in the next Census report."
Hawaii’s per-pupil spending is $1,900 higher than the national average of $10,499.
New York topped the nation with an average of $18,126 spent per student. New Jersey ($16,271) and Alaska ($15,552) rounded out the top three.
States with the lowest per-pupil spending were Utah ($6,356), Idaho ($7,092) and Arizona ($7,813).
Utah’s spending, however, increased 10.3 percent in fiscal year 2009 from the year before, the largest percentage increase in per-pupil spending for any state. Minnesota spending saw the second-highest increase, at 9.4 percent, and North Carolina spending rose 7.4 percent. (
The figures come from the Census Bureau’s annual "Public Education Finances" report, which showed total spending by public school systems nationwide was $604.9 billion in 2009, a 2 percent increase from the year before.