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Education, Money, and You

Taken+from+the+Public+Domain+via+Wikimedia+Commons
Taken from the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Taken from the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Taken from the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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School, the place that rules a human’s life until they are 18 years old. We invest so much time and effort into doing well and getting into a good college. However, not many people think about the finances and how much money goes into our education system.

School districts in America are funded by the Boards of Education of each state. While there is the U.S. Department of Education founded by Jimmy Carter in 1979, education is a state matter. The U.S. Department of Education only gives extra funds to state boards and they deal with student loans for college students. This is the reason why education levels and literacy rates vary from each state. The Department of Education is allotted around $1 trillion a year to spend on education.

Many factors go into how much money a school district will receive. Many of these factors include the cost of living in the area, the demographics of the area, and policies set by the various levels of government. Demographics are a large part of school spending. States with larger amounts of youth, like Utah or Idaho, are unable to spend as much per student since there are way more of them. Cost of living is also important as schools have to pay teachers and staff more if the cost of living is higher. Government policies are important because they dictate how much of the tax revenue goes into schooling.

According to the Colorado Departments of Education and the Treasury, the state spent over $10 billion on education in 2015 ($10,371,408,119 to be exact). This number is up from $9,855,408,240 in 2014. Education funding in Colorado makes up 33.4% of the state’s budget. This is compared to the 5.5% allocated to the Colorado Department of Transportation (no wonder the roads are bad) and the 2.9% spent on Corrections and Prisons. While it may seem like the amount of money spent on Colorado Education is large, it is dwarfed compared to the education spending of other states. New York allocates roughly 25% of their budget on education which comes out to around $81.8 billion: the most of any state in the country and the most dollars per student in the country. Colorado also spends around 8% of its budget on higher education which comes in the form of scholarships to college students. Colorado also spends around $8,000 to $10,000 per year on every student. By the end of their K-12 education career, the state of Colorado would have spent over $200,000 on a student in Colorado.


U.S. Census Data on how much each state spends on education per student. Taken from the Public Domain by the U.S. Census Bureau

While the state allocates $10 billion to education, how much of it goes to Academy School District 20 and Air Academy High School? According to Academy School District 20, their adopted budget for the 2016-2017 school year is $370,070,247. This is compared to the $361 that District 11 gets. District 20 allocates $205,231,153 to the general fund, or what it takes to keep the schools running. Given that District 20 students are in school for around 160 to 180 days, that means that it takes around $1,200,000 to run the district each day. Salaries are one of the biggest expenditures. According to District 20 Policy, high school principals in District 20 make a salary between $111,638 to $146,744. Assistant principals and athletic directors in D20 can expect to make around $87,157 to $117,741. Teachers in D20 can expect to make a maximum of $49,471 a year with a Ph.D. or an Ed.d. Teachers make less than what an athletic trainer can make ($56,319); a surprise since most athletic trainers in the district do not work the hours that teachers do.

Along with the money given by the state and the other areas of income, Academy School District 20 also received a boost in the budget through bond measure 3A, which was approved by voters on November 8, 2016, the same night as the presidential elections. The bond gives the district an extra $230 million to work on capital projects that the district has planned out. The bond allows for the creation of two new elementary schools, costing $21 million each, and a new middle school, with a price tag of $47.5 million. An Innovation and Learning Center will also be built and funded by the bond. According to the district, every school in D20 will be given a portion of the remaining bond money and can decide what to do with the funding. Air Academy has been given $9,242,703 from the bond (pretty small compared to TCA’s $21 million or Pine Creek’s $14 million granted from the bond). With the $9 million, students at Air Academy can expect to see many changes including a remodeled B Building and Library. The remodeling that will take place will cost $6 million. A building, the auditorium, and the gym are receiving new floors and the football field is getting turf, all of which will be pricey. A coffee bar is also being installed into C Building, an addition that some students and parents think is unnecessary and an inefficient use of funds.


A chart of what District 20 spends their funds on. Taken from the Public Domain via Academy School District 20.

Despite the bond funds, Air Academy still needs to operate with regular funding. The state will usually grant the school around $11 million based on the number of students attending Air Academy. The school also receives additional funding from the district and generates revenue from sales and events. The school spends roughly $1.62 million on teacher’s salaries every year.

In total, only 51 cents per dollar actually makes it into classrooms. The other 49 is spent on salaries, facilities, upkeep, and a multitude of other expenses. In school talk, the nation is failing to fund schools efficiently. Taxpayers and politicians alike are trying to find ways to boost funding to classrooms and put America’s education system back on top. It is estimated that if the school districts in Colorado Springs worked together when transporting students, transportation costs could be cut in half, thus sending more money into classrooms. Putting down the blinds in classrooms and turning off unnecessary lights could save up to $7 million for districts. A school district in Virginia has saved over $51 million in 20 years just from putting down the blinds and turning off the lights more. Hopefully in the future, people will find ways to pump more funding into classrooms and cut the expenses that are holding down this education system that we live with.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Education, Money, and You”

  1. Lilliana Hamilton on May 2nd, 2017 12:08 pm

    I have never thought about this before. Great article!

    [Reply]

  2. Jessica Cox on May 2nd, 2017 12:10 pm

    It’s cool to finally see where all the money is going!

    [Reply]

  3. Kate Danis on May 2nd, 2017 12:21 pm

    Very interesting article, I have never really thought a lot about the financials of our education. Great detail!

    [Reply]

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The student news site of Air Academy High School
Education, Money, and You