Top 25 Illinois School Districts That Spent the Most and Least Per Student in 2015

With the latest school funding reform effort coming to a halt, we took a look at fiscal year 2015 data to get a sense of how much is spent on Illinois students and how those figures differ among school districts.

The average operating expense per pupil in Illinois during the 2014-15 school year was $12,824, according to the most recent data from the Illinois State Board of Education.

This figure takes into account district expenditures like transportation costs, instructional costs and student resources, among other things.

The amount spent per student can vary greatly depending on a school district's location because of differences in property taxes and cost of living, as well as the type of district. For example, the average cost per high school student in 2015 was $16,494, while elementary school districts spent $12,182 per student. Spending also tends to be higher in districts with more property tax wealth. As shown in the chart and map below, some of the districts with the highest operating expense per pupil are more than double the statewide average.

Using the board's 2015 figures and the Illinois Report Card, we've sorted out the Top 25 school districts that spent the most and least per student. In order to provide some context, the chart shows each district's total operating expenses, total number of full-time teachers and their average salaries, average administrator salaries, student-to-administrator ratio, percentage of low-income students, and academic performance indicators such as graduation rates and PARCC scores (click here to see PARCC participation rates for each district).

Statewide averages

  • Operating expense per pupil (OEPP): $12,824
  • Average teacher salary: $62,609
  • Average administrator salary: $100,720
  • Pupil-administrator ratio: 173:1
  • PARCC: 33 percent
  • Graduation rate: 86 percent
  • Low-income students: 54 percent

Here are the 25 school districts that had the highest and lowest operating expense per pupil in 2015.

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