The publication, Annual Report of the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education of New Jersey for the Year Ending June 30, 1914, provided an explanation to the public of why education costs rose. The report noted that for the 1913-1914 school year, the current expenses for operating the schools were $16,233,018.18.

One novel proposal in the report suggested that students themselves could help defray the cost of education, some of which was paid in the form of tuition by parents. “In taking stock of the possibilities of New Jersey schools gardening should not be overlooked. No better opportunity exists in America for training pupils in gardening. A New Jersey high school girl last year raised, under instruction, $70 worth of tomatoes on one-tenth of an acre of ground…There is no reason why schools, if properly organized and properly taught, cannot train pupils to raise enough garden products, both vegetable and flower, partly to pay for the cost of the schools… What is said about gardening is applicable to poultry raising.”

Below is the commissioner’s summary:

Why School Expenses Have Risen


N.J. Commissioner of Education

Dec. 5, 1914

In my last annual report I attempted to discuss some of the reasons why school expenses have increased of late years. I wish to present again a summary of the main reasons why these expenses have become larger.

  • It is necessary to pay teachers, janitors and other employees larger salaries than ten years ago. The New Jersey Bureau of Labor Statistics has made the statement that the cost of the one item of food supplies has increased more than 25 per cent in the past ten years. And yet there are still nearly 1,200 teachers in the State who receive less than $500 а year.
  • The school enrollment is constantly increasing. In 1904 the total was 352,203; in 1914 it was 537,311.
  • А school building with equipment costs much more now than ten years ago.
  • Cost of school supplies has increased, and there has been some increase in the cost of fuel.
  • Medical inspection required to safeguard the health and lives of children cost last year $198,000, or 39 cents a pupil. We have no figures for ten years ago, but the cost was very small.
  • Transportation of pupils is necessary. The cost of transportation in 1904 was reported as $8,726.55; in 1914 it was $326,881.95.
  • Manual, industrial and vocational training activities have increased of late years. Ten years ago the total amount expended was reported as $112,000; last year it was $595,946.73.
  • The number of pupils attending the high schools is twice as many as ten years ago.
  • Summer schools for children have been established in a number of cities. More than 30,000 pupils were enrolled in these summer schools in 1914. The number of summer schools in 1904 was very small; attendance figures are not available.
  • Schools for mentally defective children have been established within ten years.
  • The opening of schoolhouses as community centers, or the wider use of schoolhouses, costs something.
  • Sanitary and decent outhouses fit for use cost something.
  • Increased opportunities for the training of teachers cost something. Ten years ago there was but one State normal school; now there are three. Summer schools for the training of teachers also cost something.
  • More is spent for school supervision, which also relates to better teaching, than ten years ago.
  • As pointed out elsewhere, the number of children to the teacher has been reduced. The number of classrooms with more than fifty pupils to a teacher is much less now than ten years ago.