Calculating dollars for instruction

Calculating dollars for instruction

A school superintendent recently asked the source of information used to calculate this pie chart from the August 12 Tallman Education Report entitled Kansas School Districts and Funding for Instruction:

The district was interested in doing a similar study of its own expenditures. Here is where to find the data and how to compute it.

First, the Kansas State Department of Education website provides a report for the state as a whole and each school district with the amount of total “current” expenditures, and expenditures for each major budget function: instruction, student support, instructional support, etc. This link takes you to the current operating expenditures page, where you can find a report for the state and for each district, as well as differences and definitions.

These reports also show the percent of current expenditures in each area. Statewide, the area of instruction received 61.44 percent of current expenditures in 2013-14, 3.5 percent below the “state policy goal” of 65 percent.

However, “current” expenditures does not include long-term “capital” costs, such as equipment, capital outlay and construction costs funded by bond and interest payments. To determine this amount, KASB used another KSDE report on total expenditures for the entire state and for individual districts, available at this link.

KASB subtracted the statewide current spending total of $4.938 billion from the overall total of $5.975 billion, which leaves capital expenditures and debt service of $1.083 billion. KASB then divided that amount, along with all other totals from the first report on current spending, by the overall total. Using this calculation, instructional spending drops to 50.8 percent.

Per Pupil
Per 20 Pupils
Percent of Total
Total Spending
– Current Spending
= Capital, Debt
Current Spending =
+ Student Support
+ Teacher Support
+ General Administration
+ School Administration
+ Operations & Maintenance
+ Transportation
+ Other Support
+ Food Services
+ Adult & Community Service

If you haven’t read it, the previous blog argues the 65 percent policy goal is unclear, unrelated to either student success or levels of spending, and unresponsive to important differences among districts.

The table above also divides the statewide totals by statewide enrollment to provide a per pupil amount, and multiplies that amount by 20 to provide an average for a classroom of 20 students.

What does this mean? KSDE already reports the amount and percentage of expenditures on instruction and other budget areas for current expenditures. KASB’s procedure can be used to calculate the amount and percentages for total expenditures for any district.

It is important understand why there may be significant differences in these percentages among districts. Districts with bond issues or major equipment purchases will be higher in capital costs. Districts that bus more students will be higher in transportation. Districts will more school buildings will have higher school administration costs, and perhaps higher operations and maintenance expenses.

Note that for purposes of the chart, KASB combined general administration, other support services and adult and community services into one area. Here is a quick link to the definitions of each budget area. Here is a link to the Kansas School District Accounting Handbook.

KASB has also prepared an online, interactive tool that shows total employees statewide and for each district, arranged by the same budget areas, going back to 1998. This report shows the number of staff positions in each budget area, as opposed to the total dollars spent in each budget area. For questions, contact KASB Research Specialist Ted Carter at