Finances: Operating Expenditures & Revenue

School District Operating Expenditures by Category

School District Salaries for Teachers

School District Operating Revenue by Government Source

Trend in State and Local Per Pupil Revenue

See More: State Funding for Operating Revenue

See More: Local Property Taxes for Operating Revenue

Why it Matters (School District Operating Expenditures)

With high probability, increased school spending has a positive effect on student outcomes.  All of the results for school attainment (high school graduation, not dropping out, and continuing to college) are positive.  In terms of how the money is spent, increased school spending by districts used in ways they have done in the past will likely improve outcomes. 

 In terms of specific types of expenditures, higher teacher salaries to recruit and retain high quality teachers and expenditures that result in smaller class sizes (both instruction expenditures) are most often cited as uses of school district funds most impactful on student achievement.   Effective principal leadership is also important as school culture strongly impacts retention of quality teachers.

Why it Matters (School District Salaries for Teachers)

Quality teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.  The length of time teachers stay in teaching depends on salaries and opportunity costs, which are the salaries teachers forgo by staying in teaching instead of moving into a different field.  Higher teacher base salaries reduce the achievement gap between White and Black students and between White and Hispanic students by raising test scores more for those minority students.  It also helps with recruiting by attracting higher-achieving college students to the education field.

Why it Matters (School District Operating Revenue)

The system of funding the operations of public schools in South Carolina (and in many other states) has evolved into a combination of state, local, and federal funding to help address the widely different circumstances in which school districts operate. 

Among other things, school districts and schools with high levels of students in poverty, students with disabilities, and students who are multilingual learners need additional resources to help these students achieve.  

To raise needed local revenue for operational costs, the only funding tool that school districts have in South Carolina is a local property tax for school and district operations.  However, a district’s ability to raise revenue from a property tax varies greatly due to the value of the property they can tax.   Those with lower overall property value in their district must impose a higher property tax rate than others to collect the same amount of revenue.  (For more  information, go to “See More: Local Property Taxes for Operating Revenue” in the Finances section of “The Data.”) 

State and federal funds help school districts address the above disparities.  Thus, the portion of a district’s operational funding that comes from each of the three sources is different for each district.  In most districts in South Carolina, state government provides the largest per pupil amount of funding.