Wednesday, April 15, 2009

School expenditures per pupil

Several of you have been asking about the now famous line:

I am proud of our schools; however, spending less per pupil than 142 of the 166 school systems in the state indicates that there is not a lot of margin for error.

So to begin understanding these statistics, you can find some per pupil spending data here on the State's OPM website. (Then go to page 53 of 277.)

Based on my cursory review of the most recent data available (2006/07), I found about 30 to 40 schools spending less than Cheshire. I don't recall the exact number because I checked last night. Perhaps one of you can get the actual numbers?

Also worth considering is that we don't know the year on which the 142 was based. It could be 07/08 or 08/09. I have no idea. That's a problem with statistics and budgets... you can play with the numbers and always give an honest answer... but with widely different spins depending on your perspective.

It reminds me of a story my dad told me:

Two cars were in a race and there were newspaper headlines the following day.

The American paper headline read:

USA wins!

The Soviet paper headline read:

Soviets come in right behind the winner! Americans come in next to last.

Numbers and statistics should always be questioned. That's one of the reasons why I tried to offer a history of the numbers when I detailed some of the school budget talk from recent years, such as here, here, here and here.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

There are actually 29 towns lower than Cheshire for the 06/07 years.
I look at it as "fuzzy math". I am sure our CPA on the TC can explain it better. We do have one on the TC don't we?
When you look at the larger cities spending a lot more than Cheshire and then towns like Avon and Madison spend less,Glastonbury spends a little more, it tells me that these figures don't mean a lot except to the superintendent who wants to use it to get more money in his budget.
Looking at SAT scores, Avon, Madison, Cheshire and Glastonbury are all in the top 25 in terms of scores.(according to 2008 CT Dept of Education Records)
I think way to much emphasis is being put on numbers that we can't really figure out how they are compiled.
It reminds of those people who will pay more for an item just because they think the more it costs the better it is. That's not how it works in this case.
If the amount spent per pupil equated to test scores, New Haven and Hartford would have to be near the top, which isn't the case, they all rank in the bottom 5.

Anonymous said...

Let's add in all the additional money the town spends on schools that is not in the education budget.

Perhaps the superintendent should spend less time in finding and throwing around meaningless numbers and modernize the educational system.

Instead of wasting money on road repair consultants, the money should be spent on how we can improve the educational system so as to improve the quality of education and the effectiveness of our tax dollars. Maybe outsourcing is the only real answer.

It's time to treat the taxpayer as something other than an ATM machine.