NEW YORK (MainStreet) - Per-pupil public school spending rose to $10,499 in 2009, an increase of 2.3% over the previous year, according to numbers released Wednesday by the Census Bureau. The vast majority of spending was on teacher salaries and benefits.

Pupils in some states saw much larger year-over-year increases in the amount dedicated to their education. Leading the pack was the District of Columbia, where per-pupil spending in public elementary and secondary schools rose 12.4% between 2008 and 2009. Utah (10.3%) and Minnesota (9.4%) likewise significantly increased their commitment to public schooling that year.

D.C.’s big increase was enough to earn it second place in the listing of biggest-spending states, with a per-pupil commitment of $16,408. The top of the class, however, was New York, where per-pupil spending for 2009 was a whopping $18,126. Rounding out the top five states were New Jersey, Alaska and Vermont – all but one located in the Northeast.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the class was Utah, which despite a spending increase, still spent just $6,356 per student in 2009. Other laggards included Idaho ($7,092) and Arizona ($7,813).

According to the census, 46.7% of school budgets come from states – a fact well-known to lawmakers seeking to get their state budgets under control. In Wisconsin (where per-pupil spending was at $11,078 in 2009, just above average), some lawmakers have sought to get those numbers under control by going after teachers’ collective bargaining rights, though a law restricting those rights was struck down today by a judge.

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