Pencils, paper and textbooks are still essential tools of most public school classrooms.
Yet, data collected by the Ohio Department of Education show that only 3 cents out of every tax dollar spent by school districts goes toward those supplies and materials.
The state report reveals that, on average, 78 cents of each dollar a district spends on operating costs goes to salaries, health insurance and retirement benefits.
The remaining 19 cents goes to “purchased services” such as cafeteria food and items, and other non-categorized costs.
Ohio’s spending pattern mirrors other states, although most jurisdictions lump salary, benefits, materials and supplies into an overall “instructional costs” category for reporting purposes.
Nationwide, about two-thirds of every tax dollar is spent on instructional costs, according to the National Center for Education Statistics .
For statewide comparison, a 2012 spending report shows New Jersey public school districts spend only about 2 cents of every tax dollar on books and other classroom supplies, while 56 cents goes toward salaries.
Disparities in spending on basic classroom supplies have had a nationwide impact on teaching.
An annual study by the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) found that 99.5 percent of teachers surveyed spent their own money on classroom supplies in 2012.
Surveyed teachers spent about $1.6 billion out of their pockets for materials – about $485 per teacher, according to the report.
Take a look at how tax dollars are spent in Tri-State Ohio school districts by clicking on any area of the map below. Use the map filter to see school districts within a specific county.