Economic Tidbits

School Spending Growth Averages 2.89%

The topic of school spending regularly surfaces during legislative debates on state aid to schools or proposals to reduce property taxes. Senators typically wrangle over whether additional spending caps should be part of any legislation. School spending garners the most attention because schools levy the most property taxes.

Nebraska Farm Bureau used data from the Annual Financial Reports filed by K-12 schools to examine spending in school years 2015-16 through 2019-20. Total disbursements by schools were tracked and annual changes calculated. Figure 3 shows the average annual percentage increase in total disbursements across all 244 schools. Spending growth averaged 2.89 percent annually with a range of 2.32 to 3.57 percent. The highest average growth for an individual school district over the period was 17.8 percent, while the lowest was -2.86 percent.

Schools are now in the midst of setting budgets for the next school year. Spending data for each school district can be found here. Charts similar to Figure 3 for each district are shown. To find information on a specific school, simply enter the school name in the search box and the site will go directly to the chart for the school. Information on weighing in on schools’ budgets during the budget setting process, or other local government budgeting processes, can be found here.

Figure 3. Average Change in Total Disbursements Across All Schools

Source: Nebraska Farm Bureau calculations based on Nebraska Dept. of Education data

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