In his article They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools
Adam B. Schaeffer states:
Although public schools are usually the biggest item in state and local budgets, spending figures provided by public school officials and reported in the media often leave out major costs of education and thus understate what is actually spent.
To document the phenomenon, this paper reviews district budgets and state records for the nation’s five largest metro areas and the District of Columbia. It reveals that, on average, per-pupil spending in these areas is 44 percent higher than officially reported.
His article is based on a recent Cato Institute study contrasting the published per pupil cost of public education versus the actual per pupil costs and finds that public education officials routinely lie about how much public education actually costs.
How much I wish they’d looked at Prince William County……..
We’ve all been listening to the complaints from PWCS about the budget and the need to raise taxes so that vital school services aren’t cut. Our rising (or falling according to PWCS) cost per pupil is an important item in assessing our schools financial needs.
Looking at the proposed and approved budgets for PWCS you see that the published cost per pupil was $10,429 for FY 2008; $10,776 for FY 2009; and $10,383 for FY 2010. But is this our actual per pupil cost?
If you divide by total Operating and Debt Service Budget by total enrollment you come up with different figures. If you take the total Operating and Debt Service Budgets and divide them by actual / projected enrollment you come up with a per pupil cost of $11,584 for FY 2008; $11,822 for FY 2009; and $11,556 for FY 2010 – a cost which is about $1,100 more than the published per pupil cost.
PWCS has a large debt burden. That’s largely because of new school and other construction necessary to keep up with increased enrollment. Our per student cost for Debt Service was $808 in FY 2008, $825 in FY 2009, and $837 in FY 2010. But that cost isn’t included in the per pupil cost published by PWCS.
Just a wild guess here, but defaulting on our debt would probably be a bad thing.
Bear in mind that this cost is based on budgeted, not actual expenditures. Based on actual expenditures, as per PWCS’ published audited financial statements, the per pupil cost was $12,078 for FY 2008 and $12,112 for FY 2009 (FY 2010 numbers are not available as the Fiscal Year isn’t complete).
Anyone else confused?
- PWCS 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Statement
- Superintendent’s Proposed FY 2011 Budget
- Superintendent’s Approved FY 2010 Budget
- Superintendent’s Approved FY 2009 Budget
- Superintendent’s Approved FY 2008 Budget
All of which can be found on links here.