The Baltimore school system ranked second among the nation's 100 largest school districts in how much it spent per pupil in fiscal year 2011, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The city's $15,483 per-pupil expenditure was second to New York City's $19,770. Rounding out the top five were Montgomery County, which spent $15,421; Milwaukee public schools at $14,244; and Prince George's County public schools, which spent $13,775.
The Census Bureau also noted the first decrease in per-pupil spending nationally since 1977, the year the figures were first tracked.
The per-pupil expenditures were calculated based on taking the districts' current spending on day-to-day operations and deducting payments to charter schools and capital funding. The remaining money was divided by the number of students enrolled in traditional schools. The amounts were not adjusted for inflation.
Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso said the city's total could have reflected large infusions of cash to the district, including millions in federal stimulus dollars and federal Race to the Top funds.
He also credited state lawmakers for maintaining funding.
"As many states pulled back on spending, with many districts losing funding, Maryland held the line on education, which is why you see three districts at or near the top," he said.
On Monday, the school board passed a $1.2 billion budget that includes per-pupil funding of $5,190. That amount is different from what the Census Bureau reported because the school system takes out other expenses, such as transportation costs and special-education services, before allocating money to individual schools. In addition, the school system provides extra funding for certain groups of students, such as those in special education and dropout-prevention programs.
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