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Census: In 2016, NY led U.S. in spending for public school students

The K through 12 average statewide was $22,366, a 5.5 percent increase from 2015 and the 5th largest increase in the country, officials say.

Students at Woodhull Elementary School in the Fire

Students at Woodhull Elementary School in the Fire Island school district in Ocean Beach in an undated photo. Fire Island led all Long Island districts in spending at $116,974 per student. Photo Credit: Fire Island School District

New York’s public schools spent more per student than any other state in fiscal year 2016 — and 80 percent of Long Island’s districts topped the state average, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Monday.

The K-12 average in New York was $22,366, a 5.5 percent increase from 2015 — the fifth largest percentage increase among the states, according to the Annual Survey of School System Finances. The national average was $11,762, a 3.2 percent increase, the census said.

While it was no surprise that New York retained its usual top spot, the beefier numbers across the nation stem from the biggest boost in revenues since 2007, officials said.

In 2016, education revenue from federal grants, child nutrition programs, local government and all other sources amounted to $670.9 billion, up 4.6 percent from the prior year, census officials said.

Long Island consistently surpasses the state average in spending per pupil — 100 out of 124 districts did so in the 2016-17 school year, according to the data.

Fire Island, with only 38 students, topped the local chart at $116,974 per, but that was a 9.5 percent drop from $129,306 the year before, when it had 36 pupils, the report said.

Franklin Square, which had 2,014 students in fiscal year 2016, was the lowest at $16,973, a 2.7 percent increase from $16,532 the previous year, when it had 2,047 enrolled, the report said.

The superintendents for the Fire Island and Franklin Square districts could not be immediately reached on Monday night.

Superintendents have cited the higher cost of living here and the push for quality education, one of the main factors in where parents choose to live. But critics have said the tax burden is too great, and more dollars do not equate to a better education.

Roughly half the per-pupil spending in the Island’s districts was instructional dollars, according to the Census Bureau. For example, tiny Fire Island’s instructional spending per student was $43,605, while Franklin Square allocated $16,973 per.

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