Bailing Out Government Schools

In "Bailing Out Government Schools", Mary Theroux writes "...government spending on K–12 public education in America is at an all-time high. The national average current expenditure per student is around $10,418". This somewhat understates the US taxpayers' per-pupil K-12 budget. Updated figures only strengthen the author's argument. This table, from the NCES, gives a 2005-2006 total US K-12 "public" (i.e., government) school budget (revenues) of $520.644 billion, and a total enrollment of 49.113 million students. This table gives a 2007 fiscal year total US "public" school budget of $555.336 billion, and this table gives a 2007 fiscal year enrollment of 49.256 million students. Unless I pushed the wrong buttons on this calculator, these numbers imply a US per pupil budget over $11,000.

Okay, "total revenues" differs from "total expenditures" and "total expenditures" differs from "current expenditures", but still...why? Why would "revenues" differ from "expenditures" in an organization which can neither assume debt nor carry over funds? In Hawaii, the State (not the DOE) creates the debt which funds school construction.

Hawaii education reporters (e.g., Loren Moreno, Susan Essoyan) and Hawaii DOE officials (e.g., BOE Chair Garrett Toguchi, Superintendent Pat Hamamoto) regularly understate the Hawaii DOE budget.

Let a equal Hawaii's 2006-2007 school year budget: $2,950,803
Let b equal Hawaii's 2006-2007 enrollment: 180,728

a/b=$16,327 per pupil.

Consider this table. What does the wide variation between States in the ratio of "Facilities acquisition and construction" costs to "Replacement equipment" costs imply? Does this reflect differences in accounting definitions? What does the wide variation between States in the ratio of "Total expenditures" to "Interest on debt" imply?

Thanks to John Ray for the link to the Theroux essay.