Education Week - April 19, 2017 - 11
Kohler School District
Sheboygan Falls School District
How many private dollars per student?
On Private Funds
Trying to measure the influence of
private contributions on schools is still
a hazy task given a lack of data, and in
turn, a lack of research.
Wisconsin was among the best at
reporting how many private dollars each
of its school districts received, according
to an Education Week Research Center
analysis of federal data adjusted for
inflation and regional variation. The data
show that donations jumped statewide
from $28 million to $67 million from
2006 to 2014, the most recent year
However, 10 states could not be included
in that analysis-either because they did
not report the information or the data
weren't complete. Those states include
three of the nation's most populous:
California, New York, and Texas. As
a result, 1 in 3 students could not be
accounted for in the federal data set used
for the Education Week Research Center
analysis of school finance.
Both the U.S. Census Bureau and
the U.S. Department of Education's
National Center for Education
Statistics collect and clean up the data,
reported as part of the bureau's Annual
Survey of School System Finances.
Stephen Cornman, an NCES project
director, explained that all states turn
in the survey as it can help to qualify
them for other types of federal aid, but
the form is not mandated by law nor
must states fill out every line item.
Before 2006, districts could report
private money in a miscellaneous
category on the survey, and some states
still do. Since the information is only
reported as a final dollar amount, it's
hard to untangle how much of it is
private donations, as that figure is
blended with other revenue. Cornman
said the agency is aware of the quality
issues and will work with states
"to seek possible improvement" on
reporting that item.
While this analysis focused on federal
survey data, researchers at both
Indiana University and the Center for
American Progress have looked instead
at the tax filings of school foundations
and parent-teacher organizations.
They found that school districts where
people are wealthier tend to get more
in private donations, reinforcing the
divide with their property-poor peers.
-FRANCISCO VARA-ORTA, ALEX HARWIN, & JACK WILLIAMS
Between 2006 and 2014, private contributions to Wisconsin public schools rose substantially from $32 to $77 per
pupil. By contrast, the national average held relatively steady during that period, increasing slightly from $26 to $35.
Note: All per-pupil spending figures have been adjusted for inflation and regional cost differences. Data from the following states could not be included in the
national longitudinal analysis due to consecutive years of missing or unreliable data: Alaska, Calif., Del., Hawaii, Ill., La., Md., Mo., N.D., N.Y., Texas, and W.Va.
SOURCE: Education Week Research Center analysis of NCES F-33, 2017
How do private contributions vary across states?
An analysis of federal data reveals state-by-state variation in private contributions to public schools. On a per-pupil basis,
the lowest level is found in New Jersey, where each student received less than a dollar of funding from private contributions
in 2014. By contrast, the highest level, more than $300 per pupil, is reported in the District of Columbia.
Less than $20 dollars per student
Note: Data have been adjusted for inflation and regional cost differences.
SOURCE: Education Week Research Center analysis of data from NCES F-33, 2017
Data Not Reliable
Data Not Available