Erie Vital Signs

Educational Spending: Educational Spending

Recent Performance

This trend is negative or needs improvement.

Erie County has historically fallen below the statewide average for educational spending, and the most recent data show that trend continuing. In fact, expenditure per pupil fell in Erie County by about 3.3% from the 2011-12 school year to 2012-13. At $12,792, expenditure per pupil was 12.5% less in Erie County than the statewide average of $14,622.

Per student expenditure varies dramatically across local school districts, from a high of $21,595 in the Iroquois district (48% above the PA average) to a low of $11,217 in the Girard district (23% below the PA average).

NOTE: The chart immediately below compares education spending per student for the 13 public school districts in Erie County, reported by the PA Department of Education. The information is included in the School Performance Profile and intended to give taxpayers an accurate account of both school performance and school financing and funding.

The Iroquois School District acknowledges the accuracy of the information provided by the PA Department of Education. The district also notes that, during the 2012-2013 School Year, it refinanced $10 million of its 2006 General Obligation Bonds, saving a considerable amount in future debt payments. Since the Department of Education report uses the total expense figures from the district’s financial statements to account for education spending per student, which include this $10 million refunding, their expense per student is listed as $21,596. However, after removing the bond refinancing entry, their actual cost per student for the 2012-2013, school year is $13,380.

The Basics

This indicator measures total expenditure per student by school districts for the school year.

Why It's Important

Expenditures are one measure of education, but only one measure. And they are an input measure, telling the dollar amounts that taxpayers are putting into the education process in each school district. The usual assumption is that greater expenditure will result in more education, but there may be quite a bit of slippage between the inputs and the outputs in the education process. This is especially true since family support and social factors can play such an important role in a child’s education outcomes.

On their own, expenditure data are not as useful as when they’re combined with output measures of education—what those dollars help create, such as graduation rates and test scores. Comparing the two—output per dollar of input—would yield a type of productivity measure for a district.

The Details

Technically, the data are for total expenditures per “average daily membership” (ADM). ADM is the term used for all resident pupils of the school district for whom the school district is financially responsible. It is calculated by dividing the aggregate days membership for all children on active rolls by the number of days the school district is in session. “Total expenditures” includes expenditures with reference to the functional classifications of Instruction, Support Services, Operation of Noninstructional Services, Facilities Acquisition, and Other Financing Uses. The data are available for all school districts, which we have aggregated into totals for the county.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

Detailed information on school districts’ Annual Financial Report and ADR data
Glossary for expenditures terms


This indicator has no subcategories, although the PA Department of Education does provide data on the various components of Total Expenditures.

Peer Areas

This indicator is provided for the 13 individual school districts in Erie County, as well as the State of Pennsylvania.




The Pennsylvania Department of Education

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