Among neighboring states, South Dakota spends the lowest proportion of its education dollars on teacher pay.
Among neighboring states, South Dakota spends the lowest proportion of its education dollars on teacher pay.
South Dakota Dashboard chart
Jun 17, 2015

EDUCATION DATA: Teacher Salaries Biggest Budget Item for SD Schools

Taxpayer money sent to public K-12 education in South Dakota and across the United States goes largely to teacher salaries and benefits, shows a South Dakota Dashboard analysis of recently released federal data for the year 2013.Education.Series.logo3

Teacher salaries consumed 34.4 percent of the $1.3 billion public schools in South Dakota received from federal, state and local taxpayers. An additional 9.7 percent went towards employee benefits for teachers. All totaled, the $579.5 million spent on teacher pay and benefits equaled nearly 44.1 percent of K-12 education funds allocated statewide. 

South Dakota came close to the national average for the proportion of education dollars spent on teacher pay and benefits, although the dollar amount remains well behind average. Nationally, nearly 34.8 percent of public school funding was used to pay teachers' salaries plus another 13 percent for teachers' benefits. In total, teacher pay and benefits consumed 47.8 percent of the nation's K-12 public school funding in 2013.

Salaries and benefits for support staff in South Dakota, including administrators, accounted for 18.7 percent ($391 million), with $189 million (14.4 percent) in salaries and nearly $57 million (4.3 percent) in benefits. This also came close to the national figures, which were 15 percent for support staff salaries and 5.9 percent for support staff benefits.

An additional 4.9 percent of spending ($65 million) was used for “all other functions” in South Dakota. Expenditures for adult education, community services and other non-elementary-secondary programs are included in this category. South Dakota’s rate of spending for services outside of instructional and support staff is on par with the national average of 4.6 percent.

The federal report, Public Education Finances 2013, from the U.S. Census Bureau, slices school spending several different ways for all 50 states. Here's a look at how much is spent on “support” categories in South Dakota.

The report breaks down the $391 million spent on “support. .

  • Pupil support - $60.7 million (4.6 percent)

  • Instructional staff support - $44.5 million (3.4 percent)

  • General administration - $38.1 million (3 percent)

  • School administration - $53.6 million (4.1 percent)

  • Operation & maintenance - $115.4 million (8.8 percent)

  • Pupil transportation - $41.8 million (3.2 percent)

  • Non-specified support - $36.6 million (2.8 percent) 

Education Data Series

This look at K-12 spending is the second in a series of reports highlighting data specific to education prepared by the South Dakota Dashboard and the Black Hills Knowledge Network. The series will examine what the available data shows about education funding, practices and achievements both statewide and in individual school districts. To view other segments, see our Education Data Series Archive.

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