With the school year and the campaign season coinciding in September, the issue of school spending is often at the forefront. Politicians often advocate for more investment in education—or at least getting rid of potentially wasteful spending that could bog down services.
Regardless of personal views on funding public education, the fact is that Connecticut spends among the highest per pupil in the United States. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau released in June shows Connecticut ranks seventh in the nation with Washington D.C. included. Connecticut’s $14,906 spent per student in 2009-10 is the second highest in New England behind Vermont.
More recent numbers are available for the spending of all the school districts in Connecticut. In 2010-11, Darien spent $15,616.13 per student, New Canaan spent $16,991 and Wilton spent $15,664.
Stamford spent $16,302; Norwalk spent $15,509; Greenwich, $18,516; Westport, $17,435; Ridgefield, $14,111; and Fairfield, $14,379.
Per-student spending is an inexact comparison between individual towns, since some communities may spend money for particular student services in town budgets not counted in education budgets.
Some communities also spend a bit more or less on education for reasons not related to student learning. Darien, for instance, is one of the smallest municipalities in the state in terms of geography, as Darien Public Schools officials have pointed out. The the price of fueling its school buses can be expected to be less than New Canaan, Wilton, or especially Greenwich or Stamford, even on a per-student basis.
Full numbers for every district are attached to this article in a PDF, and the below charts reveal the biggest spenders in the state and country.
Biggest Spenders Per Pupil by StateState Spending Per Pupil (2009-10) Washington D.C. $18,667 New York $18,618 New Jersey $16,841 Alaska $15,783 Vermont $15,274
Biggest Spenders Per Pupil in ConnecticutSchool District Spending Per Pupil (2011) Total Budget (2011) Canaan $22,105.83 $3,094,595 Cornwall $22,051.40 $3,735,508
Region No. 1 (Canaan, Cornwall and nearby towns)$20,734.70 $10,429,556
Region No. 12 (Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington)$20,468.56 $19,115,792
Biggest Budgets By District ($100 Million-Plus)School District Total Budget (2011) Spending Per Pupil (2011) Hartford $379,784,614 $18,100.25 New Haven $326,302,162 $18,500.16 Bridgeport $281,947,431 $13,458.71 Waterbury $256,520,588 $14,579.56 Stamford $246,545,506 $16,302.39 Norwalk $173,065,848 $15,509.44 Greenwich $161,471,040 $18,516.30 Fairfield $146,844,750 $14,379.95 New Britain
$137,063,891$12,626.37 West Hartford