Outside-the-Classroom K-12 Spending Balloons Despite Fewer Students and Teachers

April 17, 2019

JACKSON, Miss. – State Auditor Shad White released a report today which shows outside-the-classroom spending on administration and non-instruction activities has increased in Mississippi over the last decade, despite the fact that the number of K-12 students and classroom teachers has decreased during the same period. If outside-the-classroom spending had remained the same per student for the last decade, Mississippi could have had more than $358 million to dedicate to spending in the classroom—enough for an $11,000 teacher pay raise.

“As the product of our public schools, the son of a retired public school teacher, and the grandson of two public school teachers, the issue of how we spend education dollars is incredibly important to me,” said Auditor White. “Education policymakers need to take a careful look at where our money is going, and they should explain why outside-the-classroom spending is growing so much.”

Through a months-long analysis of data from the Mississippi Department of Education, auditors found that overall K-12 spending increased in Mississippi over the last 10 years, but instructional costs increased more slowly than any other part of K-12 spending.

At the same time, Mississippi has seen a decline in K-12 student enrollment. If outside-the-classroom spending had decreased at the same rate as enrollment, Mississippi would spend $358 million less on outside-the-classroom costs than what the state spends today. This amount is equivalent to an $11,000 teacher pay raise. If outside-the-classroom spending had simply been kept the same over the last ten years, it would have yielded enough savings to fund for a $9,000 teacher pay raise.

“Common sense says that money spent on a high quality teacher is the best way to use education funds. When money is spent on administrative costs, outside the classroom, we lose the chance to spend that money on teachers,” said White. “In Mississippi, we can’t afford to waste a single dollar on administrative costs when that money could be going to teachers.”

While administrative costs have increased by 18% over the last ten years, the number of teachers has decreased by 8%.

Some of the outside-the-classroom spending accounts with the largest increases include administrative staff services (increased cost of 113% and includes operations, recruiting, training, and accounting) and information services (103% increase and includes costs for producing “educational and administrative information” for students, staff, managers, and the general public). The full report can be viewed online at the Auditor’s website by clicking “Reports.”