Education: 11: Expenditures Keep Increasing

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Vermont had 78,733 K-12 students in the 2017/2018 academic year, down from approximately 103,000 in 1997. Total publicly funded students (including approved independent, state placed etc…) numbered 89,025 in 2017, down 138 students from 2016 and 232 from 2015.

While student numbers have continued to decline, Vermont’s education expenditures have continued to increase.  In 2018, Vermont spent $18,778 per pupil, ranking it firmly among the top five states in the country.

Historic Education Expenditures

 Vermont’s K-12 education expenditures over the three-year period ended June 30, 2018 are summarized below.

                  Vermont K-12 Education Appropriations ($ millions)

Category 2016 2017 2018 Change Since 2016
Core K-12 1,290 1,308 1,344 54
Special Ed: Formula Grants 172 178 183 11
Education Services 130 135 134 4
Other Education Programs 89 88 94 5
Sub-Total 1,681 1,709 1,755 74
State Teachers Retirement System 96 108 118 22
Total 1,777 1,817 1,873 96

Source: Governor’s Executive Budget Recommendation Fiscal Years 2017, 2018 & 2019

By way of clarification, Core K-12 expenditures are basically the aggregate costs of Vermont’s schools and school districts.  Special Education Formula Grants refer to the state’s share of the cost. Education Services is the cost of a wide variety of education programs largely designed to improve the quality of education.

As indicated in the table, total expenditures were up $96 million in two years, or 5.4%.  The largest percentage increases were in State Teachers Retirement System (22.9%) and Special Education (6.4%).  Note that all five categories experienced cost increases.

Budgeted Education Expenditures

Budgeted education expenditures are increasing at an even faster rate, as follows:

              Vermont Budgeted K-12 Education Expenditures ($ millions)

Category Actual 2018 Final 2019 Budget Recommended 2020 Budget 2020 Budget Compared to 2018 Actual
Core K-12 1,344 1,371 1,422 78
Special Ed: Formula Grants 183 198 213 30
Education Services 134 146 139 5
Other Education Programs 94 101 103 9
Sub-Total 1,755 1,816 1,877 122
State Teachers Retirement System 118 139 158 40
Total 1,873 1,955 2,035 162

Source: Governor’s Executive Budget Recommendation Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020

Just to summarize, actual K-12 education expenditures increased by $96 million between fiscal year 2016 and 2018 and are budgeted to increase a further $162 million by fiscal year 2020.

Cost Containment Strategy

According to the Agency of Education, Vermont had 276 school districts and 332 “Public Education Governing and Administrative Entities” in the 2017/2018 school year.  Pursuant to Act 46 and related legislation, Vermont is in the process of consolidating and reducing the number of administrative entities in the public school system.  This is the core cost containment strategy adopted by Vermont.

In the next two articles, The Informed Vermonter will provide it’s annual update of Vermont’s comparative K-12 education costs and a status report on Act 46.

Related Articles and Additional Reading

1.Education: Vermont’s 2016 Total Education Expenditureshttps://theinformedvermonter.com/education-vermonts-2016-total-expenditures/

  1. Education: Fiscal Year 2017 Update: https://theinformedvermonter.com/499-2-edu-2017-update/
  2. Agency of Education: FY2019 Budget Recommendation and Annual Report: https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-data-finance-budget-book-fy2019.pdf

 

 

 

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