As noted above, operating expenditures (or current expenditures) are those made by a district to carry on most of its daily activity. They include spending on personnel, materials, equipment, transportation and energy. It should be noted that spending on personnel involves all employee compensation, including wages, employee insurance benefits and employer contributions to employee pension plans.
In 2010, the city locale group had an average operating expenditure of $13,115 per pupil, up nearly $2,000 per pupil from 2004 (see Graphic 8). Suburban districts generated the next-highest per-pupil operating expenditures on average: $10,662 in 2010, up about $1,300 from 2004. Town districts produced the lowest average per-pupil operating expenditures in 2010 — $9,569, up a little more than $1,000 from 2004. Thus, in 2010, Michigan city school districts’ average per-pupil operating expenditures significantly exceeded those of any other locale group — 23 percent more than suburban districts’, 35 percent more than rural districts’ and 37 percent more than town districts’.
DPS led all 12 locale subgroups, logging operating expenditures of about $15,570 per pupil in 2010. The fringe and distant town subgroups had the lowest operating expenditures, averaging about $9,500 per pupil in 2010.[*] Even excluding DPS from the city locale group, city districts on average still spent at least $1,600 more per pupil than the other three major locale groups in 2010.[†]
Per-pupil operating expenditures in the city locale group also grew more than any other of the four major locale groups, climbing by 18 percent from 2004 to 2010. DPS’ per-pupil operating expenditures increased faster than any of the other subgroups, yielding 30 percent growth. The midsize city, small suburban and remote rural subgroups were next, with between 18 percent and 20 percent growth.[‡] Operating expenditures increased by at least 11 percent in each of the 12 subgroups from 2004 to 2010.
Graphic 8: School District Operating Expenditures per Pupil
Locale Group, Michigan, Fiscal Years 2004-2010
Source: Local Education Agency Universe Survey; Michigan Department of Education, Data for National Public Education Financial Survey
 Ave, Honegger, and Johnson, “Documentation for the NCES Common Core of Data National Public Education Financial Survey (NPEFS), School Year 2007-08 (Fiscal Year 2008)” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010), B-2, B-3, http://nces .ed.gov/ccd/pdf/stfis081agen.pdf (accessed March 4, 2011).