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Greenville County Schools (GCS), along with all South Carolina school districts, experience significant fluctuations in education spending associated with economic cycles. After plummeting 15% per student following the Great Recession, inflation-adjusted, per student spending for GCS has increased an average of 2.5% per year.   For GCS, the inflation-adjusted spending level in 2008 was not matched again until 2018.  At the state level, it wasn’t matched again until 2020.

Operational Expenditures

Operational expenditures include those funded by state and federal government as well as the local school district. They do not include construction and associated debt service expenditures.


When adjusting for inflation, GCS spent $870 more per student in 2021 than in 2008.  At the state level, it was $320.

Impact of Federal Pandemic Relief Funding

The jump in per student spending in 2021 was largely due to the increase in federal funding in response to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic—funding that was time limited.  For GCS, federal funding more than doubled and accounted for two-thirds of the total funding increase that year.

State Average vs. Greenville

South Carolina school districts, on average, spent $760 more per student than GCS in 2021.

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Greenville County Schools Operational Per-Pupil K-12 Expenditures

School Years 2007-2021


In the 2020-21 school year, 73% of Greenville County Schools (GCS) operational expenditures went toward the combination of instruction and instructional support and 1% on district administration.  The percentages for South Carolina school districts were 70% and 2%.   Compared to the state average, GCS spent a higher percentage of its operational expenditures on instruction and instructional support and a lower percentage on operations, school management and district administration.

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Greenville County Schools Operational Expenditures by Category

School Year 2020-21

Sources: In$ite Financial Data, South Carolina Department of Education, various years. (online: https://ed.sc.gov/finance/financial-data/in-ite/)


The policy of Greenville County Schools is to keep a minimum of one-month (8.3%) of annual operating expenses in reserve. In comparison, the City of Greenville’s policy is 20% of annual expenses while Greenville County’s policy is 25% to 35%.

Why Maintain a Reserve?


The inflow of operating revenue doesn’t always match the payment of expenses, so reserves allow the district to pay bills without borrowing funds and paying interest on those funds. Due to this mismatch, the reserve amount can vary greatly from month to month.


The district may also maintain money in reserve to protect against mid-year cuts in state funding. This reserve prevents major disruptions during the school year.


The school district’s operating reserve policy allows the district to keep a high bond rating and pay less in interest on construction debt service bonds.

Reserve Requirements, Greenville County Schools

Versus Greenville County and City of Greenville
Greenville County (25% - 35%)
City of Greenville (20%)
Greenville County Schools (8.3%)


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