Monday, February 11, 2008

CCSD - FY '07 Per Pupil Expenditures

Taking a brief respite from presidential politics, I recently checked the Department of Education’s web site and found that the expenditure figures for fiscal year 2007 are now available.

Let’s cut right to the chase. Per pupil expenditures for the Clarke County School District last year amounted to a staggering $10,746.94, which is 27.51% above the state average of $8428.05. The breakdown per the DOE's seven administrative categories is:

Instruction $6888.66 (19.84% above the state average of $5748.09)

Pupil Services $335.76 (27.82% above the state average of $262.68)

Staff Services $743.69 (67.99% above the state average of $442.70)

General Administration $478.47 (24.52% above the state average of $384.25)

School Administration $584.99 (12.73% above the state average of $518.92)

Transportation $733.08 (74.39% above the state average of $420.38)

Maintenance & Operations $982.30 (50.88% above the state average of $651.03)

The above percentage calculations are mine. Similarly, by my reckoning this level of per pupil expenditure puts the Clarke County School District in the 95th percentile (170 out of 178) of those school systems covered by the Department of Education’s statistics (there are 180 school systems in the state; for whatever reason Hancock County and Gainesville City school systems are not included).

Of the eight school systems that spent more per pupil than did the Clarke County School District, seven have much smaller student populations. That means that they have to spread fixed capital and administrative cost over fewer students, thereby forcing their per pupil expenditures up. They are:

Quitman County $15,269.76 (258 pupils)

Clay County $13,875.98 (327 pupils)

Talbot County $13,837.70 (655 pupils)

Decatur City $13,744.31 (2400 pupils)

Taliaferro County $12,807.91 (244 pupils)

Atlanta City $12,761.65 (50,031 pupils)

Baker County $11,444.84 (426 pupils)

Wheeler County $11,155.05 (1014 pupils)

Clarke County $10,746.94 (11,415 pupils)

So just what do we get for this high level of per pupil expenditures?

In 2007, only 11 of 19 public schools, or 57.9% met
AYP standards (11 of 13 elementary schools, 0 of 4 middle schools, and 0 of 2 high schools; the Classic City Learning Center is not included in the statistics as it has too few students). The state average is 82.2%

Graduation rates for the 2006-2007 school year were
58.1% at Cedar Shoals High School and 63.6% at Clarke Central High School, compared to a state average of 72.3%.

Thus, I think that the current argument over QBE funding completely misses the point. Here in Clarke County, we have a case study showing how increased funding does not, in and of itself, lead to increased academic performance. Many advocates of increased school funding take it as a tautology that more money will equate to increased academic performance; empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

The QBE debate merely concerns the source of funds, not their effect – I and do not think for a minute that the Clarke County Board of Education would reduce its millage rate, currently at the constitutionally imposed limit of 20 mills, if the state threw more money its way.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The usual solutions offered by the educational bureaucracy are 1) to hire more teachers (decrease class size) and 2) to pay the teachers more.

The marginal benefit of these approaches is vanishingly small.
Smaller class sizes help a little, but not much, because one disruptive student can disrupt a class of 15 just as badly as s/he disrupts a class of 20 or 25. And systems like ACC have a much greater ratio than 1:15 of disruptive students. It's more like 1:1.

Likewise, better qualified teachers will stick around longer if they are paid more, but they will still be teaching the required cookbook curriculum in a classroom that is disrupted by juvenile delinquents.

Until and unless we get real school choice I won't be voting a single penny more for k-12 education. I'm already paying school taxes and private school tuition and that's more than I should be doing.