Bureau of Business Research


Date of this Version



Business in Nebraska vol. 56, no. 657


Copyright 2001 by Bureau of Business Research, University of Nebraska.


In a rural state like Nebraska, the implementation of any legislation aimed at improving efficiency in local public education, while providing more equitable educational benefits, likely would not be smooth or speedy. This is due in large part to the conglomerate pattern of the state's 587 local school districts. Some are physically very large, others very small; and some have huge enrollments while many have very few students. Some provide elementaryonly education, some are secondary-only, and sti ll others are K-12 (Figure 1). Elementary-only districts are either joined with secondary-only districts or affiliated with K-12 districts to form school systems. Some school districts have no students.

Nebraska's pattern of public school districts is the result of decades of change in local populations and economies, influenced by taxpayers' efforts to keep property taxes low. This complex mixture of school districts is, in part, the reason for the enormous variation in per student expenditure across the state. The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of per student expenditure by district size, with an emphasis on the expensive and inexpensive districts within each size group. Nebraska Department of Education data for the 1999-2000 school year were used.